There were no upsets in round two of the women’s 6 Nations with victories going to France, Wales and England.
First to Pau where the French Rugby Union had made a huge effort to deliver a real party atmosphere to a 9,000 strong crowd who turned up to see their country take on Ireland. Incidentally that crowd is one of the largest to ever watch a women’s rugby game in the 6 Nations so praise should go to the home nations for showing the rest how it’s done.
Preparations for the match were disrupted for both sides with the kick off brought forward from the evening to early afternoon to ensure the game could go ahead with the weather deteriorating and what ensued was a tight tense battle in which France prevailed 8-7. Games between these two have been very close in recent years – there was just two points in it last season – and Ireland have done an admirable job in closing the gap between the two country’s despite their inferior resources.
The French took the lead in the 20th minute to a try from winger Caroline Ladagnous and a penalty before the break made it 8-0 in favour of the home side. France threw everything at the Irish after their break and it took some superb defending by the visitors to keep them at bay. Ireland then ensured a nervy last few minutes by scoring a late try from flanker Claire Molloy which Niamh Briggs converted but try as they might they couldn’t break through in the closing minutes as France desperately held on for a one point win.
Ireland have Italy next up and they will go into the game high in confidence despite the loss in France – a side there is no disgrace in losing to. France will travel to Stirling to play Scotland where they will be expected to make it three from three.
The second game of the weekend saw Wales score four unanswered tries to Scotland on Sunday. The home side took their four changes extremely well with a brace going to Amy Day alongside scores for Jamie Kift and Captain Rachel Taylor. Scotland later rued a lapses of concentration in a game in which they were highly competitive but they are without a score from their first two matches and will need to show more in attack if they are to win a game this season. In saying that, their performances are improving week by week and they will be positive going into their clash with France next weekend remembering that they beat France at home two years ago by a two point margin.
Wales march on now to Twickenham, a venue they have never played at, knowing that they’ll face a firing home side who love to run out on their national turf. However with players like Kift and Naomi Thomas on form they will provide a much bigger threat to England than they have faced so far.
Finally it was over to Italy where the hosts faced England and ran out on the end of a 43-3 loss.
The preparation of both sides was significantly disrupted by a change of venue due to the weather with the game eventually moved from Milan to Recco near Genoa and played on an artificial pitch. But England had no problem getting the win, running in seven tries with Rochelle Clark, Emily Scarratt, Ceri Large, Michaela Staniford, Rachael Burford and Georgina Roberts all crossing while Scarratt grabbed three conversions to add to a penalty try.
It’s a sign of England’s dominance that they have been so comfortable in both wins so far and Gary Street has been able to rotate and introduce new players already in the tournament. Wales will be a bigger test for them in two weeks’ time but expect their juggernaut to roll on.
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
Photo by Rugby Matters