Planet Rugby

Women's Six Nations: Round One

05th February 2013 10:58

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womens six nations

Mud bath: Italy record first Six Nations win over France

The Women's Six Nations tournament is now in full flight as England, Ireland and Italy banked wins in the opening round over the weekend.

What a way to kick off this year's Championship! With a come-from-behind victory in Wales, a dominant display of tries in England and a hard fought battle in the Rovato mud.

England were simply too strong for Scotland in a 76-0 whitewash in Esher. Scotland defended well early in the first quarter, but after England skipper Sarah Hunter scored, the floodgates opened.

England crossed the line twelve times and didn't miss a beat despite having a relatively new squad.

"We had a lot of young, inexperienced players out there today but actually they were all leaders and they stood up and that's something I'm really pleased with," said England head coach Gary Street.

"We did make mistakes but the important thing was that we didn't panic, we got it together and in the end, the result clearly went our way."

Scotland will need to lick their wounds and take a long hard look at themselves before they face Italy this weekend. And the Italians will be full of confidence thanks to an emphatic 13-12 victory over France.

In terrible conditions, heavy underfoot does not describe the conditions these ladies played in Rovato. From playing in a field of mud where not a blade of grass could be seen, to players being covered head to toe in mud - so much so that you had to double check if you were passing to a team-mate or the opposition... plus add a slippery ball!

How these ladies continued on playing and sending the ball out wide is a true testament to their class, professionalism and love of rugby.

This is the first time Italy have defeated France in the Six Nations and over 2,000 spectators helped celebrate an important and historic victory for their national side.

"We are becoming a mature team that knows how to handle difficult moments," said Italy's head coach Andrea Di Giandomenico.

"Today the girls played a great game. Accurate when it had to be combative when under pressure. France was strong with scrum and within rucks and mauls have pushed us back. But we did not give up."

France will regroup and will use this as motivation when they take on Wales, who also lost a tightly contested match against Ireland 10-12.

Despite Wales crossing the line twice early in the second half, both tries were deemed to have been knocked on by the referee and proved to be costly in the end.

Ireland hooker Gillian Bourke crashed over in the corner in the 75th minute to steal victory for her country much to the heartache and pain of the Welsh crowd.

"That was the best performance the girls have put in over the past two years," said Wale coach Rhys Edwards.

"The scrum was dominant and our defence was always in control. It a real kick in the teeth to lose a game that was there for the taking but we go to France next week knowing that if we repeat today's performance, we've got a great chance of coming away with a positive result."

The results of the Six Nations in the coming weeks will determine which two top teams - other than England and France - will automatically qualify for the 2014 Rugby World Cup.

Already this Six Nations is setting up to be one to remember given the results after the first round.

By Amanda Love

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