Women's Six Nations Preview: England continue title quest

Women's Six Nations Launch (Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra)

Three close thrillers kicked off the Women’s Six Nations last weekend as England left hosts France feeling bleue and Ireland sprinted to glory.

Now the Red Roses are set to face a resilient Scottish side while Wales will be chasing winds of change in Dublin.

Rachel Steinberg tells you everything you need to know ahead of round two:

Scotland v England

Le Curse is finally broken.

England moved one step closer to a consecutive Grand Slam with a 19-13 victory over France—the first time in eight years the Red Roses picked up a Six Nations win across the English Channel.

Emily Scarratt, who bagged nine points in the opener, should continue to prove why she was crowned World Rugby’s 2019 women’s player of the year when England visit Glasgow on Sunday.

Though many say the Red Roses have now passed their toughest test, don’t count out the resilient Scots who nearly clawed back a win after falling 13-0 behind Ireland.

Scotland, who finished at the bottom of the table last year, gave head coach Philip Doyle plenty to be hopeful about.

His squad dominated possession at 62% and currently lead the competition in passes and running metres. The Scots covered 951 metres — 85m more than England.

If Scotland — who at times looked liberated by low expectations — can find a way to convert their field gains to points this clash could be a much closer call than anyone anticipated.

Ireland v Wales

Ireland’s Beibhinn Parsons intercepted a pass just shy of the try line and sprinted the length of the field to secure the deciding points in her team’s first-round win.

It was a bit of luck for Ireland who still have plenty to work on ahead of Sunday’s home clash with a Welsh side who are looking to bounce back from losing 15-19 to Italy.

Adam Griggs’ Irish enter the second round having conceded a table-topping 16 penalties—double Wales’ total.      

Ireland also need to improve their kicking game – missing all three of their conversion chances against Scotland.

Meanwhile Wales, who struggled with possession in the strong winds at Cardiff Arms Park, need to be more aggressive and find a way out of their own 22 — and hang onto the ball.

France v Italy

Jessy Tremouliere could have France at her feet.

The 2018 World Rugby women’s player of the year kicked her way to eight points with two penalties and a conversion in the loss to England.

Les Bleues looked strong on the set piece, winning all 13 of their lineouts, and will aim for similar success when Italy visit Limoges for Saturday’s continental clash.

Italian head coach Andrea Di Giandomenico has kept most of last Sunday’s line-up intact, only swapping out Erika Skofca for Valentina Ruzza, who has 31 caps.

French fans might recognise second-row Ruzza who plays for Parisian club Stade Francais.

Last year’s runners-up Italy defeated Wales in round one using a whole team attacking effort and will need to capitalise on scoring chances after squandering numerous opportunities in Cardiff.

Italy, who found themselves on the losing side of two TMO try rulings, are no doubt hoping the cameras will catch them at a more favourable angle this time.