England won the Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam for the fourth time in a row after defeating France 24-12
A fourth Six Nations title in a row. A record-tying 23rd consecutive Test victory. France has been defeated ten times in a row. In the championship, they scored twice as many tries as their closest competitors. This England team’s supremacy is mind-boggling. Even though this was their toughest test of the championship – and their least convincing performance – you got the impression in Bayonne that they had the Grand Slam wrapped up by halftime.
They defeated France 24-12 thanks to their accuracy and clinical edge, notably in terms of their maul, for which there appears to be no solution. This Red Roses team possesses a ruthlessness that has yet to be matched.
France had chances as well, but their own mistakes cost them, as they were unable to match the accomplishments of the 2002 Grand Slam-winning squad, which created a guard of honor for them as they ran out for the title match. Dropped balls, clumsy lineouts, and poor decisions were all too common, allowing England to reclaim control of the game. The visitors survived the ten-minute periods each side of half-time when Les Bleues put on the pressure, and while they lost the second period 5-3, they did enough to win again.
This Grand Slam final was hardly a classic — winner-takes-all matches are rarely played with so much on the line – but the Red Roses got the job done, as they have so many times before. The question now is if they can be stopped at the Rugby World Cup later this year in New Zealand. It’s difficult to predict at this point. At Stade Jean Dauger, France struck first, with Romane Manager bursting through the line to collect a Laure Sansus pass and score beneath the posts. It was the first time England had trailed in the competition so far.
The Red Roses then went on a mauling spree, crossing the line three times in 15 minutes. Les Bleues were unable to halt the visitors’ driving lineout, and Sarah Bern scored either side of an Abbie Ward try.
Then, for the first time since the opening exchanges, France was able to move back inside England’s 22 thanks to a couple of penalties. They piled pressure on the opposition line in the closing ten minutes of the half, with the Red Roses conceding penalties as France attempted to get their maul going. Unlike England, they were unable to cross the line and close the gap, however, the visitors were fortunate not to have a player sin-binned – in addition to the maul offenses, Poppy Cleall looked to swipe at Audrey Forlani.
France, though, was unable to capitalize on the resulting penalty once more. A clumsy lineout gave them a five-meter scrum, but England’s force shone through when they won a penalty and cleared the set piece. Even with a numerical advantage, they couldn’t make their domination count in terms of points due to their own mistakes.
Emily Scarratt stroked the penalty through the posts after England received a penalty opportunity in the French 22 after Maelle Filopon was sin-binned for another reckless knock-on. When Emilie Boulard scythed through the England defense, Scarratt made another crucial interruption, this time covering back to make the crucial tackle.
In contrast, when England had an opportunity in the French 22 with a penalty after Maelle Filopon was sin-binned for another deliberate knock-on, Emily Scarratt slotted it through the posts. It was Scarratt again who made an important interjection when Emilie Boulard scythed through the England defense, the captain covering back to make the all-important tackle. France’s lineout eventually worked in the 67th minute. They started the maul, and Sansus sent the touchdown pass to Annaelle Deshaye, who smashed it in from close range. The missed conversion made the score 24-12, and France was unable to recover.