6 Nations: What we learned

  The first round of the women’s 6 Nations brought wins for England, France and Scotland, so what we can take from the opening games?

Published by Ali Donnelly, March 25th, 2024

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6 Nations: What we learned

The benefits of momentum

Which is better – playing against teams who are better than you but losing, like Wales did in WXV1 last year, or playing against teams around the same level as you and winning, like Scotland did last year in WXV2.

Scotland went to Cardiff with six wins in a row under their belts, with winning momentum and with a style of rugby they knew could win them games.

Wales had a much tougher time last year, losing to Canada, New Zealand and Australia, but there was a sense that those challenges could stand them in good stead. In the end though, it was Scotland, who, despite burnishing several scoring opportunities, looked the more confident and threatening team.

Perhaps in the long run, Wales will more battle hardy for their experiences last year, and after all they only were a kick away from drawing the match,  but momentum has helped Scotland take a huge bounce into their home game against France, while Wales face a daunting task against England. A

s Scotland found out to their frustration in recent seasons, losing is a habit, but winning is too.

England can play below themselves, and still be miles better than everyone

England may not enjoy rewatching the first half against Italy, where they were frustrated by an excellent defensive effort, and where they made what they referred to as a plethora of ‘soft errors’.

England were certainly not the well-oiled machine we’re used to seeing, conceding a surprising 22 turnovers - more than any other side over the weekend.

That said, there was some mitigation for this, asides from Italy’s early efforts. This is an England team with new coaches, attempting a new style of play, and without entirely settled combinations. Even with 14 players, and for a time 13, they were able to stay patient and score with ease at the end.

They’re still well on track.

France are vulnerable

In the rush to praise a much improved Ireland side, it was almost overlooked that despite scoring some good tries, France were certainly not at their fluent best.

Attempting to play at great tempo (they threw 22 offloads to Ireland’s four for example), handling errors were bound to come, while Ireland put them under great pressure defensively, managing to rob a try from a mix-up which came after pressure, and forcing mistakes.

Though their set piece was solid, and their attempt to play impressive,  on the road, France can often slip up, and against a Scottish team with a crowd behind them, and with great attacking threats of their own, this weekend’s game is certainly no given.

Who’s playing well

A late March kick off means the gap between test games and the  6 Nations makes it hard to really assess where teams and players are at.  Here’s our pick of the players from the opening weekend, with one switch to get the excellent Evie Gallagher into the team on the flank. Just missing out was England superb replacement Holly Aitchison, several of France's back row and Ireland's Aoife Wafer.

  1. Hannah Botterman(England)
  2. Agathe Sochat (France)
  3. Assia Khalfaoui (France)
  4. Abbie Ward (England)
  5. Madoussou Fall (France)
  6. Evie Gallagher (Scotland)
  7. Alex Callender (Wales)
  8. Brittany Hogan (Ireland)
  9. Pauline Bourdon Sansus (France)
  10. Helen Nelson (Scotland)
  11. Coreen Grant (Scotland)
  12. Aoife Dalton (Ireland)
  13. Emma Orr (Scotland)
  14. AlyssaD'Inca (Italy)
  15. Ellie Kildunne (England)