History was made this year ahead of the Women’s Six Nations matches as for the first time, the tournament had a title sponsor.
For the next four years at least, the competition will now be referred to as the TikTok Six Nations.
This was not the only historically significant event of this year’s Six Nations. The women’s tournament is now being shown outwith the men’s competition and has its own space in the sporting calendar.
With such history (or I suppose as we’re talking about women’s rugby we could say ‘herstory’) being made off the pitch, the six nations competing were all hoping to make history on the pitch too.
Scotland came into the competition off the back of qualifying for their first World Cup since 2010 and had been hoping to take that positive momentum into the start off their Six Nations campaign.
Wales began the tournament having not won a Six Nations encounter in their last seven attempts, while France hoped to emulate the success of their male counterparts. England are currently number one in the world and looked to continue that dominance, while Italy were eager to produce another solid show to match 2021’s fourth place finish.
So what has the first round of matches in this historically poignant tournament shown us?
England are Number One for a reason
Scotland were full of hope coming into this competition. England were never going to be an easy first match, but Rachel Malcom was leading her side into the match just a month after their success against Colombia in Dubai, and were sure that this new found confidence would secure them an intense and fiercely competitive match against their closest rivals.
This was, however, not to be the case, as England showed Scotland and the rest of the Six Nations teams just why they were number one.
Within nine minutes, England used virtually their first attack to secure their first of many tries.
While Scotland were showing strong passages of play, especially in the second half, sloppy passing and weak defences allowed England to pounce on every mistake Scotland made.
At half time, the score was 5-38.
However, there was still another half to go, and the belief of the Scottish fans did not wane. Scotland’s joy at securing a second try was short-lived, after being overturned after the referee appeared to see a knock-on. Replays however indicated that the ball was in fact tapped back by England.
The final score of 5-57, while not fully reflective of the overall match, certainly proved that it was going to take a lot more than confidence to overcome the number one ranked team in the world.
Wales are back
Wales had suffered seven straight Six Nations defeats. At the halfway point of their fixture against Ireland, it was looking like they were heading for an eighth.
The last time Wales faced Ireland, they were hammered 45-0. Since this point, the Welsh Rugby Union has handed full-time professional contracts to 12 players and another 12 have since taken up part-time contracts with their country.
14-5 down at half time, the future looked decidedly bleak for Wales, but a dramatic second half saw replacement prop Donna Rose score two tries to seal a 19-27 win.
Jasmine Joyce scored the first redeeming try in the second half, before Rose came charging in and gave Wales some much needed momentum.
Ireland collapsed under the pressure, and Wales powered to their first win since signing full-time professional contracts.
France will look to steal England’s top spot
France are the closest to England in the world rankings. Sitting in third place, behind New Zealand, France will hope to edge closer to knocking England off that first place ranking and what better way to do that than beating Italy 39-6 in the opening round of the Six Nations.
While Italy held most of the possession throughout the match, France were able to show off their clinical and technical prowess by capitalising on any error Italy made.
Italy were looking to make the most of set pieces, but were ultimately no match for the strength of the French forwards.
Within 17 minutes, France had secured a penalty and try plus conversion. At no point in the match did it look like France would be defeated, with their prowess clear to see.
Five tries from five different players were all scored at almost symmetrical intervals.
With the Women’s Rugby World Cup a few months away, France will hope to use this Six Nations to set the tone with some dominant performances ahead of October.
If France can keep hold of their precision and composure, the upcoming fixture against England could be a thriller.
Round 2 Matches:
- Saturday 2 April, France v Ireland, 2.15pm GMT
- Saturday 2 April, Wales v Scotland, 4.45pm GMT
- Sunday 3 April Italy v England, 3pm GMT