6 Nations: How the teams stand

England and France are heading towards their decider, but the battle for third is hotting up in the 6 Nations. We take a look at how all the teams have performed so far, and pick out the star players so far.

Published by Ali Donnelly, April 15, 2024

13 minutes read

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6 Nations: How the teams stand


The England players will rightly tell you that their scorelines don’t always reflect how tough the games feel, but in reality they have barely had to get out of third gear in this Championship, such has been their dominance.

England talked up an evolution in style before the competition, and though it’s taking them a while to really get that going, you can clearly see the width and pace at which they want to play, through some of their many superb attacking lines,  and there is no longer an over reliance on the rolling maul to bring scores.

Add to this the deeply impressive ball playing skills of their front row players, with Hannah Botterman and Maud Muir brilliant around the field at the weekend, and England make it extremely difficult for teams to defend against them.

So while there really are few flaws to this team, you could nitpick at two.

Plenty of people have talked about discipline being an issue for England, with two red cards already this year, and certainly against tougher teams like France and New Zealand, who they will play at home in September, England probably can’t afford to lose players, but against Scotland it mattered little.

The other issue has been a very poor goal kicking return - but the reality is that they can afford to make these errors, because no one has been capable of punishing them, with England always having enough in the tank to see sides off with some ease.

The one way traffic of their games is certainly not turning fans off – with growth both in the stands and via viewers on TV. Their game against Italy was up a whopping 75% on two years ago and their clash with Wales peaked at 1.2million viewers.

So even though at times against Scotland especially, England looked like they were on a training run, their fans love to watch their team dominate, and they’re expecting a big crowd this weekend at Twickenham, with almost 45,000 tickets sold already.

The England juggernaut rolls on and only France can realistically stop it.

Stars so far: Hannah Botterman, Ellie Kildunne, Meg Jones. Rosie Galligan


France have dazzled as well as frustrated at times in this campaign but it’s clear the players are buying into what newish coaches Gaelle Mignot and David Ortiz are trying to do.

Several players have talked up the new coaching philosophy, with powerhouse prop Assia Khalfaoui saying at the weekend that they are bringing to life a French flair which she felt had “disappeared” for a time.

France have not been perfect, but when they get it right, they can at times look unstoppable and they do score some eye catching tries.

Most pleasing may well be the performances of some of their lesser heralded players – Khalfaoui and Charlotte Escudero have been excellent, while Lina Queyroi’ has settled into the number 10 shirt well.

In their desire to re-find their 'flair', France have been guilty of overplaying a tad, losing possession regularly with their approach. Much like England’s disciplinary issues though, this hasn’t yet mattered enough to cast any real doubt on their results, but they will surely have to tighten things up in Bordeaux in the final round against an England team who will relish loose ball coming their way.

Their set piece battle with England will also be one to relish, with the pack in strong form and the performances of the ‘Triple A’s, aka clubmates Khalfaoui, Agathe Sochat and Annaëlle Deshaye has been the cornerstone of this, with all three combining so far formidably.

See off Wales this weekend, and we're in for a Grand Slam finish in the south of France.

Stars so far: Gabrielle Vernier, Madassou Fall, Assia Khalfaoui, Charlotte Escudero


At the start of the competition, I was asked if three wins was too much of an ask for Ireland this year on the Left Wing Podcast which I take part in throughout the Championship with Anna Caplice and Sinead Kissane. I agreed that that was likely a step too far, and that two wins, after last year’s performances, would represent real progress.

Ireland will not win at Twickenham this weekend but have a great opportunity to win their final game at home against Scotland and complete a rather large turnaround from just a year ago.

In their frustrating loss to Italy, a game they really ought to have won, there were two main issues – ball handling and decision making; both areas that Ireland clearly worked very hard on in the two weeks between games, and it really showed in Cork against Wales.

Ireland’s performance for the first hour of the game was outstanding, with an excellent scrum, a relatively well functioning lineout, and ferocious intensity at the breakdown, meaning Wales had no chance to compete until Ireland were reduced to 14 late on, having used all their substitutes.

Ireland also have the find of the season in Aoife Wafer, who offered another outstanding display. Her try was taken with the confidence of a 50-cap player, with the 21-year-old powering over and past a raft of Welsh defenders; while her link play out wide and ability to break tackles put Ireland constantly on the front foot.

As Caplice points out on our podcast this week, seeing young players like Wafer, Dannah O’Brien and Katie Corrigan growing in confidence is very encouraging for the future of this Irish team.

This week, defence must be a key focus for the Irish as they will likely spend most of next weekend’s game without the ball. Their kicking game has also been a real asset this year, but kick loosely against England’s explosive back three and they’ll be in trouble.

So far though, under a new coaching team, this has been a decent Championship. Emerge with some positives next weekend, and the Scotland game will be there to be attacked.

Stars so far: Aoife Wafer, Dannagh O’Brien, Eve Higgins, Sam Monaghan


How Wales must wish that they had converted their last kick against Scotland in round one, a score late on in the game that would have seen the match end in a draw, and still be able to feel they have got something substantial from the Championship so far.

Instead, Wales have played three and lost three, and with France to come next weekend, could well be playing to avoid the Wooden Spoon in the final round against Italy.

Wales have lacked cohesiveness throughout their three games, with progress coming in fits and starts.

The game in Cork must count as one of their worst displays in several seasons, with the Irish blowing them away at the breakdown, and relegating the visitors to looking distant strangers to the side that finished third last year.

Lleucu George has had a lot of pressure put on her shoulders in the ten shirt, but she has had little to work with outside her, with few of the Welsh outside backs being able to make a mark on the Championship so far.

We are early enough in the era of professionalism in women’s rugby that there are not yet serious calls for the heads of any of the Welsh coaches, but harder introspection will start to come on the Welsh set up, which, despite introducing long overdue contracts for leading players, is still some way behind in terms of pathways and structures of some of their nearest rivals.

It can surely not be right that almost every single Welsh international player has to leave the country to play a decent standard of rugby, and sorting out an alternative either via a professional team competing in some of the mooted international club competitions in the near future, or rebuilding the Welsh Premiership must surely start to become a priority.

Wales currently look down at heel and desperately need to find a good performance this weekend.

Star players so far:  Keira Bevan, Alex Callendar, Georgia Evans


Scotland had a very definite off day against England, a game they were never likely to win, but a game that they had the ability to show up much better than they managed in front of a record home crowd.

After the high of the win over Wales, and a more than decent fight against France, they might have simply have to write the England game off as a very bad day at the office and move on.

Poor decisions handed England easy territory gains, and they looked startled at times by the pace at which the visitors were attempting to play.

In the race for third place, Scotland and Italy have an advantage over Ireland and Wales in that they have both played England and France already, and if Scotland can recapture some of their brilliant rugby in the opening rounds, they should be confident they can do it.

The reward would be a place in WXV1 and a guaranteed place at the World Cup.

At their best, Scotland play an exciting brand of attacking rugby, with backs like Emma Orr, Rhona Lloyd and Chloe Rollie capable of brilliance, while up front there have been fine performances from the captain Rachel Malcom and Evie Gallagher.

Put the England game behind them and end with three wins, and this will have been an excellent Championship for the Scots.

Stars so far: Emma Orr, Evie Gallagher, Rhona Lloyd, Rachel Malcolm


On the one hand, it’s arguable that Italy have gone through a strong turnaround in a year.

From having to playoff against Spain last year for a spot in WXV2, they and Scotland are now competing for third place and a place in WXV1.

Both have played France in successive weeks, and while Scotland came off best, some of this may be due to France simply playing better in front of a home crowd.

On the other hand, Italy were very poor at times against France, looking at times almost disinterested, before summoning up some spirit late in the game - a disappointment given their brilliance in finishing the game off against Ireland the week before, and their relatively decent showing against England.

If Italy had taken more advantage of French errors the outcome might have been closer.

In any case, next weekend in Parma against Scotland will be a huge game, and being at home, one that the Italians will start just about as favourites.

Veronica Madia has been in good form, as has the winger Alyssa D’Inca (who must surely be in the mix for player of the Championship) and with Scotland and Wales to come, Italy will feel that with their two hardest games out of the way, and a win versus Ireland under their belt, that there is plenty to come from them yet.

Stars so far: Alyssa D’Inca, Veronica Madia, Vittoria Vecchini, Sofia Stefan