Women’s Sport: England to start Six-Nations Grand-Slam defence against France in Pau this Sunday


Coming off the back of an impressive Autumn series and a Grand-Slam in 2019, England are evidently in a good place leading into this weekend’s opening Six-Nations fixtures.

In November, England beat France away from home 17-15, demonstrating the balance of technical skill and physicality that we have come to expect from New Zealand, who lead England at the top of the World Rankings by less than a point now. 

This Sunday in Pau, therefore, represents the sort of match that could determine who wins this year’s championship even if it is only the first round. France themselves boasted a Grand-Slam of their own in 2018, and have traded Championships with England for the past four years dating back to 2016.

However, England’s triumph last year was not only emphatic but saw a record number of tries scored, 45 in total. They also have the world’s best player in Emily Scarratt in addition to a number of youngsters flying through the ranks, such as last year’s top scorer Jessica Breach.

Despite being obvious favourites leading into this year’s tournament, coach Simon Middleton is adamant that his side will not underestimate the competition. “Complacency is something that never enters our camp, our mindset,” he said. 

“As coaches, we wouldn’t allow it, senior players from within the group wouldn’t allow it to happen anyway.”

Aside from France, England’s other main competitors are likely to be Italy, who finished second last year. The Italians comprehensively saw off France by 31-12 in Padua and will be confident of repeating the feat again, despite being away from home this time around.

The other three nations are all seemingly in a period of rebuilding, but it is Scotland who has the most to prove. The Scots were winless last year, finishing with the wooden spoon and have won just one game in the Six Nations since 2018.

Elsewhere, Ireland is looking to add some attacking flair to an established core, whilst Wales will be hoping to build on their partnership with the men’s side, which will see them share resources in an attempt to close the gap on their English rivals.

The Six-Nation begins this Sunday, where Ireland will host Scotland, Wales will face Italy and England will seek to beat France for this fifth time in less than a year.

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