Daily Digest: Six Nations launches ahead of anticipated weekend kick off

England Women

In today's news: Six Nations launches ahead of weekend kick-off, referee Rebecca Welch to make history as first female to officiate in EFL and snowboarding mourns the death of Bibian Mentel-Spee after she loses her battle with cancer.

Six Nations launches ahead of weekend start

The Six Nations officially launched today ahead of a mammoth kick-off this weekend. The competition has been highly anticipated after Covid restrictions put a temporary end to women's rugby. England will be hunting down another title as they look to retain their crown.

The tournament is set to take place during its own standalone window and will feature its first ever Super Saturday when crowning this year's winners. 

"It is a privilege for us to be in a position to stage these matches despite the ongoing challenges presented by Covid-19," CEO of Six Nations Rugby Ben Morel said.

Rebecca Welch to make history in EFL

The County Durham referee is set to become the first ever female official to take charge of an English Football League match. Welch has already established herself as a prominent figure within officiating, having featured internationally and also within the Women's Super League. 

The Washington-based referee has previously worked within the National League, but this opportunity is a huge milestone within her career.

"I’m really excited and this [is] what I’ve been working towards and to be given this opportunity to work in the EFL is amazing for me," Welch said. "This is the biggest achievement of my career."

Bibian Mentel-Spee loses her battle with cancer

The three-time Paralympic champion has died aged 48 after battling with cancer. The Para-snowboarder was diagnosed more than 20 years ago when she discovered a tumour in her tibia, which was later removed with the amputation of her right leg in 2002.

Mentel-Spee was treated for cancer a further 15 times before tests last month diagnosed her with a terminal brain tumour.

The 48-year-old found success at the Sochi Games in 2014, before going on to win two titles in PyeongChang in 2018. She managed this despite undergoing radiotherapy during the lead up to the tournament in South Korea. She also launched her charity, the Mentelity Foundation, which helps young people with mental and physical health conditions.

England announce squad ahead of international friendlies 

Hege Riise has released her squad ahead of the upcoming international friendlies against France and Canada.

Due to an injury picked up with Manchester City, captain Steph Houghton will miss the two fixtures as she suffers damage to her achilles. Teammate and goalkeeper Karen Bardsley has returned to the team after missing out on the last camp.

Beth Mead has also been recalled, with Niamh Charles, Lotte Wubben-Moy and Ella Toone also receiving call-ups following their impressive run of form recently. However, fellow youngster Lauren James has missed out on a spot in the ranks this time round.

The Lionesses will face France on April 9th, followed by their meeting with Canada on the 13th. Read what Riise said ahead of the latest international camp here.

Lyon vs PSG clash postponed due to Covid

The blockbuster Champions League clash between title holders Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain has been postponed due to Covid. The quarter-final second leg tie was due to take place on Wednesday, but the seven-time winners of the competition have been forced to request a rescheduled date.

A number of Lyon's first team squad have tested positive for coronavirus and have described the situation as "very critical". 

The two French giants are already locked in a heated battle over in Division 1, as PSG encroach on Lyon's usual unstoppable league. The teams have until April 20th to play out the postponed Champions League match. 

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