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6 Nations: 5 Talking Points

We pick out five key talking points from Round 1 of the women's 6 Nations. 

The title race is already over

It wasn't quite true to say that whoever won between France and England would go on and win the title because France are often so maddeningly inconsistent - as their loss to Italy last year reminded. However, an England win does make it accurate as there is nobody who can threaten them a la France in the coming games.

It makes the calls for a total rethink of the tournament structure even more potent. In a Championship likey to be dominated by France and England for years to come - notwithstanding Italy's form last year - the mirroring of the men's competition, with no scope for an alternative schedule, isn't right for the women's event. The question must always be - what's right for the women's game, and no longer, how can we piggyback off the men's game. 

World Cup qualifying wide open

While England’s win in Pau may have decided the winner of the 2020 Six Nations, the battle for the minor places promises to be very close indeed after an opening weekend where every losing team achieved a losing bonus point, and no winning team managed to score four tries.

Scotland and Ireland’s match in Dublin could have gone either way, while Italy struggled to break down the Welsh defence in Cardiff, winning by just four points despite having nearly two-thirds of the possession.

With Italy, Scotland and Ireland competing with Spain for a place in the World Cup (plus a place in the repecharge) these opening results suggest that there is nothing to choose between them.

England are brilliant, but their scrum needs work

This England team showed huge grit and determination under pressure from France for most of the second half to hold on and win a match that could have gone the other way. They were more than up to the defensive challenge, but so much of the pressure they were under was a direct result of their struggles at the scrum. 

Simon Middleton reacted by making changes in the second half to his front row, but France continued to dominate - at times walking England back completely off their own ball. They may be the best team in this tournament, but if they are going to go to New Zealand and win the World Cup next year, it's a rare area of weakness that needs fixing. 

Fresh faces can light up the tournament 

Foregone conclusion as it might be, the tournament is bringing to light some new talent who are likely to become stalwarts in the Championship in the years ahead.Though they are not brand new, players like Ireland's Edel McMahon - who more than ably stepped in for Claire Molloy and Beibhinn Parsons - who is back school today after her match winning triy - showed that there are fresh (ish) faces emerging. 

In Pau, Zoe Aldcroft stepped up the mark to show that she should be a regular starter, while Laure Sansus was excellent at scrum-half, for France, even though Pauline Bourdon is considered one of the world's finest while in the same position, Mairi McDonald showed that she is the future in the Scotland number 9 shirt. 

In Cardiff it was generally the old hands who shone, although Italian replacement lock Sara Tounesi injected some extra pace when she came on in the second half that contributed to Italy coming from behind to beat Wales, and Welsh hooker Kelsey Jones had an excellent Six Nations debut. She was always at the heart of an impressive Welsh defensive performance and added the second Welsh try that almost allowed the home team to steal the game.

Scarratt is still the world's best

There were some very strong individual performances at the weekend. England's Katy Daley-Mclean; Ireland's Cliodhna Maloney; Scotland's Mairi McDonald; Italy's Giado Franco; Wales' Beth Lewis and France's Romane Menager to name just a few.

France marshalled Emily Scarratt well enough in the game - no doubt by now so well aware of the threat she poses, but with some excellent open-play kicking and deft touches she reminded of her all-court talent. 

It was her try that shone. Sure Amber Reed and Mclean had a huge role to play, but with England under the cosh in defence, the big game player that she is, hit the absolute perfect line - the only chance England really had in that second half - to secure the game. A quality score for the game's highest quality player.