The opening round of the Women’s Six Nations 2021 saw big wins for the two fancied teams, England and France, against Scotland and Wales, respectively.
Back-to-back Grand Slam winners England turned in a good first-half performance at Castle Park in Doncaster to lead 33-3 but ill-discipline halted their momentum thereafter and they had to settle for a 52-10 win.
France, meanwhile, were in an irresistible mood as they ran in eight tries, including a first-half hat-trick from Caroline Boujard, to put 53-0 unanswered points on Wales in Vannes.
Having had no rugby for six months or more, Scotland and Wales will no doubt be all the better for the run out when the Women’s Six Nations resumes this weekend.
Among the melee of tries, which players stood out?
CLEALL HAILED AS ONE OF THE BEST
Poppy Cleall was the top-scoring forward in last year’s Women’s Six Nations and carried on from where she left off in round one.
Not even a late yellow card could detract from another all-action performance from the Saracens player who not only scored a try but put in her sister, Bryony, for another, as well as making more than 100 metres from her 19 carries. “Her all-round game is pretty sensational,” was Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton’s glowing post-match assessment.
Winger Jess Breach also scored a try, came up with an assist and looked lively throughout in making the most metres in the match (156). Breach now has an incredible 25 tries in 16 tests.
Hannah Smith did well in a losing cause for Scotland, who were reduced to 14 players when replacement hooker Molly Wright was red-carded in the 63rd minute. Outside centre Smith made a punishing 12 tackles and six carries in addition to scoring Scotland’s first try against England since 2018.
England travel to Parma next weekend to play Italy, while Scotland sit out round two.
CB ON THE RIGHT WAVELENGTH
Winger Boujard’s quickfire hat-trick – her first in 38 tests – came inside the first 15 minutes and was the highlight of Les Bleues’ emphatic win against the Welsh.
Boujard and full-back Emilie Boulard, who broke a match-best eight tackles on debut, ran amok clocking up well over 100 metres, while captain and openside Gaëlle Hermet turned in another superb 80-minute performance in attack and defence.
No player in red or blue made more tackles than Wales outside centre Hannah Jones, who dug in defensively, as Wales came under enormous pressure in their own half, to put down 15 opponents.
Les Bleues’ hooker, Agathe Sochat was the only player behind her in that respect, in a good all-round display that saw her hit her lineout jumpers with regularity in addition to scoring a first-half try.
Wales provide Ireland with their first opponents of the new-look Women's Six Nations at Cardiff Arms Park in round two on Saturday, while France will head into their rest week on a high.
Neither of the results had any impact on the World Rugby Women’s Rankings.