England’s Red Roses have won their second consecutive Six Nation’s title as France drew with Scotland last week.
Les Bleus’ hopes of reclaiming their 2018 title were slashed as a late try from Scottish debutant Rachel Shankland with added extras from fly half Helen Nelson closed the gap between the two nations, meaning France walked away with just two points to add to the table.
The Red Roses started their campaign on a high in the heat of Pau on 2 February in a tight win (19-13) over France in front of a rowdy crowd of 15 000 to then go on to beat Scotland in a blizzard at Murrayfield 53-0.
A 27-0 win over Ireland followed by a 66-7 thrashing of Wales secured the Triple Crown for the reigning champions, who boast some of the world’s top players, including World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Year 2019 Emily Scarratt, last year’s Championship’s leading try scorer Jess Breach as well as veterans of the game skipper Sarah Hunter and fly half Katy Daley-McLean.
Head coach Simon Middleton commented: “We are delighted to have retained the title after four big performances from the team to date.
“It’s a fitting reward for all the hard work put in earlier this year.”
With one match to go against last year’s runners up – Italy – England look for another Grand Slam in Parma. Although they’ve lost the last 13 meetings between the two sides, the Azzure haven’t been defeated in their last four home matches and will have the upper hand in terms of match fitness, having returned to play last weekend, so shouldn’t be underestimated.
In spite of the English missing two of their stars – usual skipper Hunter is out with a hamstring injury and scrum-half Natasha Hunt has returned a positive Covid test – the side can look forward to fielding sevens superstars Ellie Kildunne, Alex Matthews and Helena Rowland along with Marlie Packer and Abbie Ward returning to full-time play after injuries as well as young Loughborough Lighting prodigy Morwenna Talling set to debut.
With a 54-0 win over Italy in Parma on Sunday, the Red Roses secured their second consecutive Grand Slam title.