England's first win on French soil for seven years has seen the Red Roses close the gap to New Zealand at the top of the World Rugby Women's Rankings.

The Red Roses defeated France 20-10 at the Stade Marcel Michelin in Clermont on Saturday and they are now less than a point behind the Black Ferns after boosting their rating to 92.94 points. France remain in third but drop to 86.53 points.


Captain Sarah Hunter led from the front, the long-serving number eight crossing for both her side's tries just before the break after England had soaked up a lot of pressure from the home side with a resolute defensive display.

Trailing 17-3 at the break, Les Bleues eventually found a way through when Camille Boudard scored in the 64th minute but a second penalty from newly-crowned World Rugby Women's 15s Player of the Year 2019 Emily Scarratt gave England the breathing space they needed to get the win.

The sides will meet again this weekend at Sandy Park in Exeter, the same venue where the Red Roses drew a record crowd for a home Women's Six Nations fixture in March.

Wales leave it late

Wales bounced back from their heavy defeat to Spain a week ago with a dramatic 15-13 victory against Six Nations rivals Ireland on a heavy pitch at the UCD Bowl in Dublin.

Ireland led 10-0 in the second half after tries from Linda Djougang and Enya Breen, but a Sioned Harries try and five points from the boot of Robyn Wilkins brought the visitors level with 11 minutes left to play.

Ellen Murphy, who failed with both her conversion attempts, finally bisected the poles to edge Ireland in front again but Wales snatched victory at the death when Keira Bevan scored with the final play of the game.

Wales were unable to reclaim eighth place back from Spain, though, as their improved rating of 75.23 points still leaves them a third of a point behind Las Leonas' total. Ireland stay in 10th.

Finally, in the Rugby Europe Women's Trophy, Czechia won their first-ever meeting with Switzerland 15-5, and as a result, they climb from 56th place to 54th with the Philippines now propping up the rankings. 

Photo: I Picarel/FFR