Portugal have big ambitions for women’s rugby
The rebirth of the national women’s team is another success story coming out of Portuguese rugby.
Spain wrapped up a 10th Rugby Europe Women’s Championship title with a convincing 90-5 defeat of Sweden in Villajoyoso on Saturday.
The hosts needed to avoid defeat at Campo de El Pantano to be sure of finishing top of the standings again, having beaten the Netherlands 70-0 six days previously in Barcelona.
It took Las Leonas less than four minutes to open the scoring as fly-half Zahia Perez scored the first of her two tries. Maider Aresti Felix (twice), Vico Gorrochategui Juste, Alba Vinuesa (twice) and Claudia Perez (twice) all crossed the whitewash before half-time.
Vanuesa struck twice more in nine minutes early in the second half, before Lucia Gayoso, Cecilia Huarte Sebastián, Alba Alpin Bardaji and Zahia Perez rounded off the scoring for the home side.
Sweden scrum-half Olivia Palmgren gave the women in yellow something to show for their endeavours as she became the first and only player to breach the Spanish defence in this year’s tournament, touching down in the 62nd minute.
Following their series defeat in South Africa in August, victories against Sweden and the Netherlands this month will give the young Spain squad confidence as they near the end of their first season under coach Juan González.
Eight of the 15 players who started for Spain on Saturday have made their test debut since the beginning of 2022, and captain Cristina Blanco is certain their results in the Women’s Championship are evidence they are moving in the right direction.
“We put in a great performance [against Sweden], and we are very proud about how we are improving and getting better,” Blanco said.
“I think we have a long way still [to go] but we are ready for more challenges.”
González added: “We are really proud to be European champions, I’m really happy for the girls.
“They played a really good game, both games against the Netherlands and Sweden, and we really look forward to playing the next games.”
Despite the size of their victory, Spain remain 11th in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini. Sweden, meanwhile, stay 20th.
(Photo credit: WalterD Fotografía/FER)