England are champs again

England won a sixth consecutive Six Nations title in Bordeaux, with a hostile crowd unable to throw them sufficiently off their stride, winning 21-42.

Published by Ali Donnelly , April 27th, 2024

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England are champs again

In the end there was never any doubt was there?

For all France’s energy, pace and intent to play, one team has been the standout again this year, and that team once again lifted the Six Nations trophy.

France played with heart and zip and did a brilliant job of keeping England’s dangerous back three quiet, but they were guilty of being careless in possession, were poor at defending England’s driving maul, and even with a huge and record crowd behind them, never really looked in contention after going 14-0 behind very early on.

England were over after six minutes with Maud Muir crashing over after an early attacking onslaught.

Pauline Bourdon-Sansus got the crowd on their feet with one gorgeous break, but she couldn’t connect with Anne-Cecile Ciofani and just minutes later England scored again, this time Alex Matthews crossing after an excellent driving maul.

Holly Aitchison, who has had challenges with her goalkicking this year, slotted both conversions with ease.

France needed something and they soon got it, with Gabi Vernier put through a hole by Bourdon-Sansus as AssiaKhalfaoui and Maddassou Fall began to dominate collisions.

But France have often been careless in possession this year, and they gifted Meg Jones a try just minutes later with a loose pass which the centre gobbled up and intercepted making it 7-21.

Bourdon-Sansus linked up minutes later with Marine Menager who raced past Jess Breach for a try and Lina Queyroi converted to make a game of it.

But when France should have settled, instead they fumbled, with Ciofani dropping the restart and handing England back possession. England’s lineout was perfect as it rumbled over for their fourth through the captain Marlie Packer. Amy Cokayne repeated the trick minutes later as England turned around 14-35.

The second half didn’t ignite anything like the first, with Khalfaoui yellow carded early on, and when it was upgraded to red, it became mission impossible.

They did come at England admirably in attack, with some fine darts from Nassira Konde in the middle and Fall a constant ball carrying threat.

Menager finally broke the deadlock of a scoreless second half. with another score that saw her race past Breach but seconds later England put Matthews over, and the visitors, with Meg Jones and Hannah Botterman prominent, did a professional job of closing the game out.

France XV: Boulard; Ciofani, Konde, Vernier, M Ménager; Queyroi, Bourdon Sansus; Deshaye, Sochat, Khalfaoui, Feleu (capt), Fall, Escudero, Hermet, R Ménager.

Replacements: Riffonneau, Mwayembe, Joyeux, Feleu, Gros, Chambon, Berthoumieu, Jacquet.

England XV: Kildunne; Dow, Jones, Heard, Breach; Aitchison, Hunt; Botterman, Cokayne, Muir, Aldcroft, Talling, Kabeya, M Packer (capt), Matthews.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Clifford, Ward, Feaunati, L Packer, Scarratt, Gregson.