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Leagues return after Xmas break

The short window between Christmas and the Six Nations opened last weekend on both sides of the channel.

Montpellier go top in France.

With senior players returning from international training camps, recent squad announcements on their minds, and anticipation of the forthcoming Six Nations, the odd couple of weeks between Christmas and the Six Nations break often seems to lead to upsets, and so it proved in France last weekend.

Lille – unbeaten all season – fell to a 78th minute try away in Paris against Bobigny, who had been in seventh place with just one win before the start. Lille had looked in control throughout most of the match, lead 15-10 and half time, but never quite closed the door on their opponents, and Bobigny ceased their chance at the end, a converted try giving them a 20-18 win.

With Montpellier comfortable 31-10 winners away to Romagnat (who replace Bobigny in 7th), despite also suffering a reverse right at the end. Tries from some Bleus Cyrelle Banet (who scored twice), Caroline Boujard and Safi N'Diaye should have been enough the champions a seventh bonus point in nine games. despite conceding a try just before the break, but a try by wing Camille Deltiel from the final play o fthe game meant that Montpellier missed a bonus point for the first time since the start of November.

The only team to pick up an attacking bonus this weekend was Toulouse, whose 35-0 win at home to Bayonne put them seven points clear in third, while Bayonne languish at the foot of the table.

Finally, Rennes narrowed the gap on Blagnac with a 26-22 win at home. Blagnac had seemed safe for the playoffs at the halfway stage in the league, but now Rennes threaten to turn the race for fourth into a much closer race.

 

P

W

D

L

PD

TB

LB

Pts

Montpellier

9

8

0

1

188

5

1

38

Lille

9

8

0

1

109

3

1

36

Toulouse

9

6

1

2

82

3

2

31

Blagnac

9

5

0

4

18

2

2

24

Rennes

9

4

0

5

22

2

3

21

Bobigny

9

2

0

7

-84

1

2

11

Romagnat

9

1

1

7

-163

1

1

8

Bayonne

9

1

0

8

-172

0

2

6

In England, the Tyrrells Premier 15s also returned at the weekend following a Christmas break. We’ve not covered the league too much this year mainly because it has a superb website of its own – by a large margin the best website associated with any women’s club league anywhere in the world.

The league in England is two clubs larger than that in France, so despite having reached the 12th round (compared to the 9th in France) it is also two thirds of the way through.

As in Top 8, the Tyrrells Premier is developing into a two-horse race. Saracens recorded their 12th win in 12 starts with a 105-0 thumping of basement team Worcester. Saracens also have their own set of twins, Bryony and Poppy Cleall, to match Lille’s Menager sisters, who scored five tries between them as Saracens score 17 tries against the young Worcester team.

Harlequins – whose only defeat this year was against Saracens – had a far tougher time against new start-up team Loughborough, a brace of tries from Davinia Catlin being crucial in the win. Quins had looked home and dry at 17-0 early in the second half, before a comeback from Loughborough earned the visitors a losing bonus point, Lizzie Adam and Sarah Bonar setting up a nervous end to the game.

If Saracens or Quins should slip up, Wasps and Bristol could yet win some glory. Both were comfortable winners, Bristol 59-7 against Firwood Waterloo (Lagi Tuima and Sydney Gregson both recording hat-tricks), while Wasps remain third after a great second half performance against Darlington. Only 14-10 up at half-time, thanks to tries from Louise Dodd and Rocky Clarke, ended at 31-10 thanks to scores from Alice Sheffield got the ball rolling, Danielle Waterman and Abby Dow.

In the final game of the weekend Gloucester recorded the weekend’s only away win, beating Richmond 37-15.

 

P

W

D

L

PD

TB

LB

Pts

Saracens

12

12

0

0

404

11

0

59

Harlequins

12

11

0

1

303

10

0

54

Wasps

12

8

0

4

156

9

2

43

Bristol

12

7

0

5

178

7

2

37

Gloucester-Hartpury

12

6

0

6

29

8

0

32

Loughborough

12

6

0

6

-15

6

2

32

Darlington MP

11

3

1

7

-91

3

1

18

Richmond

11

4

0

7

-138

3

0

14

Waterloo

12

0

2

10

-213

0

3

7

Worcester

12

0

1

11

-613

0

0

2