After three tight first round encounters, the Women’s Six Nations continues this weekend with France facing Italy on Saturday.
Reigning champions England will be hoping to build on their first-round success as they face the challenge of Scotland, while the Irish ladies welcome the Welsh to Donnybrook on Sunday.
In sharp contrast to the men’s tournament, England, Italy and Ireland remain in the race for the Grand Slam, but this weekend’s fixtures may throw a spanner in the works.
France v Italy
When: Saturday, February 8. KO 8pm.
Where: Stade Beaublanc, Limoges.
An inspired second-half performance from the Italians got them the win away to Wales last weekend and is sure to have done wonders for the traveling Azzure. Facing a five-point deficit at half time, the Italian women clawed back to claim their 19-15 victory in Cardiff.
Conversely, the French women’s opener was not as joyous an occasion, as they failed to stop England’s charge.
Andrea Di Giandomenico is operating with an ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ mentality, making just one change to his first round starting 15. That change comes in the form of Valentina Ruzza, in for Erika Skofca.
Italy will fancy their chances to continue their winning run over France, having defeated Les Blues last year, finishing above them in the standings for the first time. Based on current form, they seem capable of claiming back-to-back wins.
Scotland v England
When: Sunday, February 9. KO 12.10pm.
Where: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow.
Watch: BBC Alba, Sky Sports.
The Red Roses are on the road again this weekend, heading north to Glasgow with confidence after their win over France in Pau last Sunday. A stand-out performer on the day was Emily Scarratt, who has said the English chase for back-to-back titles is well and truly on, having won the Grand Slam last year.
Scotland will be haunted by their last Six Nations meeting with England, when they were subjected to an almighty battering of 80-0 in Twickenham. This game represents the opportunity to redeem themselves against their old rivals on home soil.
Ireland v Wales
When: Sunday, February 9. KO 1pm.
Where: Energia Park, Donnybrook, Dublin.
Watch: RTÉ 2, S4C.
A ‘ugly’ victory for Ireland in the opening round against Scotland allowed head coach, Adam Griggs a sigh of relief. Tries from Cliodhna Moloney, Sene Naoupu and Beibhinn Parsons kept Ireland just beyond Scotland’s grasp, but Wales will be much more relentless in their pursuit.
Ireland are strong starters and will likely want to set down their mark early in front of the home crowd, but they’ll have to be wary of the sting in the Welsh tail, as they desperately chase a win following their 19-15 defeat to Italy. The defeat has inspired a reshuffle to the starting 15, with flankers Manon Johnes and Alisha Butchers edging themselves off the bench.
Wales’ track record in Donnybrook is stacked against them, having lost there on the last two occasions, but there’s no doubt Ireland will be thinking of their defeat to Wales in Belfast during the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2017.