TikTok Women’s Six Nations Round 1: A fairytale ending for Sarah Hunter as results show disparity in funding

A perfect ending as Sarah Hunter bids farewell to the Red Roses

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Rugby fans might have been mourning the fact that the Guinness Six Nations is now over for another year, but the women’s TikTok Six Nations opening weekend did not disappoint as the drama continued on the rugby pitch.

The most poignant moment was Sarah Hunter’s departure from the pitch as she called time on her career. After 141 appearances, she is England’s most capped player of all time - male or female.

Speaking to the BBC after England’s demolition over Scotland, Hunter said: “I am overwhelmed by it. It has been such an incredible week. To be here today and have the performance that we did is so, so special. I genuinely couldn’t think of a better way to end my career tonight.

“It was tough at times but there is an appreciation of what (women’s rugby) is now. We have just lived in this moment and tried to increase the standard and keep pushing where women’s rugby should be.

“The girls left today will take that mantle on and they will be trailblazers that these young girls here will look to and say I want to be a red rose, I want to be a professional rugby player.”

As England said goodbye to Sarah Hunter, let’s take a look at the biggest talking points from the first round of the TikTok Six Nations…

Wales vs Ireland: 31-5

Welsh rugby fans did not have too much to enjoy when the Guinness Six Nations was on as their players managed just one win in their five matches and a fear of a strike looming around.

However, Wales women have started their Six Nations campaign in a domineering fashion and have shown what can be achieved with the right funding.

Of course, we are still miles away from any women’s team’s funding matching their male counterparts. However, Wales have now been training together as a unit on a more consistent basis for a year and they are enjoying the fruits of their work.

It took just three minutes for Wales to open up the scoring and by the end of the first half, they had already secured a bonus point.

The Irish performance was a long way off what their male counterparts have accomplished this year but if this Six Nations is going to show us anything, it is set to massively highlight the disparity in professional contracts and overall funding.

Scotland try-scorer Chloe Rollie reacts after another England try is scoredScotland try-scorer Chloe Rollie reacts after another England try is scored
Scotland try-scorer Chloe Rollie reacts after another England try is scored

England vs Scotland: 58-7

It was a fairytale end for one and a nightmare start for the other. While Sarah Hunter’s England career could not have ended in a more fitting way, this was not the way Scotland would have wanted their professional era of Rugby to begin.

Hunter led her side to a 10-try win over Scotland, not exactly a bad way to finish a career as England’s most capped ever player, and England barely put a single foot wrong.

The Red Roses’ new captain, Marlie Packer, secured a hat-trick, scoring all three tries within ten minutes and a battered Scotland were thrilled to hear the whistle finally end their 80 minute misery.

This is not the start Scotland wanted as they begin to build a new foundation for women’s rugby, but the only way is up and hopefully soon the Thistles will be able to enjoy the type of performances Wales are now able to put in.

Italy vs France: 12-22

This was probably the most exciting of the three fixtures in terms of competitiveness. France had not won in Italy since 2017 and the host team were coming into the tournament off the back of a quarter-final run.

However, France showed their experience and determination as the game progressed and were finally able to break away from an incredible Italian start. Italy pushed their visitors right up until the last minute with victory for Les Bleus only certain five minutes from the final whistle.

Both sides are likely to be frustrated with this result, with Italy hoping to have kept a closer grip in the final stages and France disappointed to not have secured a bonus point, but this was definitely a game that kept fans on the edge of their seats in a way the previous fixtures had not been able to do.