As expected the reigning champions England had no problem in coming through their first game with ease, beating Scotland 47-0 away from home. England scored 9 tries in all and were comfortable winners, and having put out a youthful team minus some of the big names like Maggie Alphonsi, head coach Gary Street will be pleased that he has been able to continuously rotate his squad over the past year without any effect on the results.
Michaela Staniford, the Wasps winger, was named the Woman of the Match after a barnstorming display out wide which saw her score two tries. The winger, who is also a leading European 7s player, is in fine form this season for her Club as well and will be a real threat for the remainder of the tournament.
With Italy up next weekend, England may well once again give a shot to some of their younger inexperienced players, as even though the game is away, they will be far too strong for their opponents. Their real tests lie ahead in France and at home to Wales and Ireland.
For Scotland there will be positives in the fact that despite conceding 47 points it was in fact 42 points less than they conceded last year (when England beat them 89-0) and at times they showed good spirit and determination, particularly through the efforts of Lindsay Wheeler in the pack. They were never likely to beat England so their attentions will now turn to Wales, a side they will hope to have a much better crack off. They should also welcome back their skipper Susie Brown for the remaining games whose return is a huge boost to their efforts.
Meanwhile on a freezing Friday night in Ashbourne, the game between Ireland and Wales ended in high drama when it was abandoned half way through due to the hardening pitch.
Ireland were leading 10-3 when the game was called off and the IRFU later confirmed that the match result will not stand and that a decision will be made this week as to when they will re-play the match.
It’s a dire situation for both sides. Ireland will be aggrieved that their efforts in hosting the game will have gone a little to waste and of course they were in the ascendency in the game leading through an excellent Alison Millar try. Ireland could have been further ahead given they were camped in the Welsh half for most of the opening quarter but there was a full 40 minutes to go so it’s impossible to predict how the second half might have panned out.
Wales too will be frustrated as they will have to travel again – presumably in the break weekend or after the end of the tournament, a difficult ask when their players fit their schedule in around their own working lives. This weekend Ireland face a daunting trip to France, where they have never won, but they have beaten the French in recent years at home and they’ll be hugely motivated following the frustration of last weekend. Wales and Scotland could be a tight affair though the Welsh will be favourites.
Finally to Riom where France overcame Italy 32-0. A brilliant first half for the home team saw them go into the break 27-0 but the Italians battled much harder in the second half, letting in just one try, and coming close to scoring themselves. Italy will struggle against England this weekend but the French will be confident of a second win at home.
by Ali Donnelly
Ali Donnelly is Editor for the women’s rugby website Scrum Queens. For more information on the women’s game, visit www.scrumqueens.com