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6 Nations perfect build-up for referees

As the Women's RBS Six Nations entered its final furlong, the clash of the tournament was undoubtedly the France versus England clash in Rennes last week.

Having been fortunate enough to referee both sides in the last 12 months, it promised to be one hell of a clash as France on their own turf are a match for anyone - and so it proved, with England just managing to hold on to record victory by a solitary point.

One thing the English can be assured of whenever they go to France though, is a fantastic occasion as the French certainly know how to make a big deal of their rugby.

In Blois, when France hosted Ireland, I was taken aback by the lengths the local rugby club had gone to promote the game.

The club in Blois got the support of the whole town and in the build up to the match on the Friday evening, held various events in the town and schools to drum up interest abd support. And it paid off, as to have 3,000 turn up in sub-zero conditions on a Friday night and have live television coverage goes to show what can be achieved.

It was just a shame that given the post-match function, which surpassed any others I have been to, was just getting going at midnight, that I couldnt stay awake beyond 1.20am as my flight from Paris dictated that I needed to be up at 5am. Bad planning on my part I think, and lessons have be learnt!

Last season I had the honour of refereeing Wales v Ireland and the support that day in Taffs Well was also amazing. The atmosphere was electric and the game intense as despite going two tries down early on, the Irish hit back and made Wales fight all the way for a close victory.

Having spoken to other referees who have officiated in this years 6 Nations, it appears that yet again the bar has been rise both on and off the pitch.

And its not surprising seeings that its World Cup year.

With David Keane (IRFU), Sarah Corrigan (ARU), Dana Teagarden (USA) and myself also building for the World Cup, the 6 Nations has given us some valuable preparation ahead of kick-off on August 20.

Like players, though, its part of a bigger picture as we count down to London in five months. Most of the women officials named on the World Cup officiating panel have been given further appointments by the IRB as we build towards the big one.

Alongside the weight-loss regime (oh how I love that bit), the fitness training and match preparation, a few of us are again on our travels in the coming months.

Way down south, New Zealander Nicky Inwood is heading up north to Canada for their two-Test series against the USA in June, while Canadians Sherry Trumbull and Joyce Henry are heading in this direction for the FIRA-AER Championships in France.

As for me, I have a trip to Scotland in June when they host South Africa, who for me were the team to watch at last years Nations Cup in Toronto, Canada. The progress they have made since the last World Cup in 2006 was phenomonal and I am looking forward to seeing them again in June.

Its certainly going to be a busy five months lets hope the pass as quickly as possible and everyone stays injury free.