|England: (7) 10|
|Try: P Cleall; Con: Scarratt; Pen: Scarratt|
|France: (0) 6|
|Pens: Drouin 2|
England won the Women’s Six Nations for the third year in a row with a hard-fought final win against France.
Both sides were kept scoreless for most of what was nevertheless a thrilling first half, before Poppy Cleall’s try put England ahead at the break.
Caroline Drouin cut England’s lead to one with two penalties and France kept up relentless, heavy pressure.
The Red Roses’ defence held firm and they were rewarded with an Emily Scarratt penalty to seal the title.
Few scores, but no shortage of entertainment
It was an experimental day for the Women’s Six Nations with the tournament’s first ever final played outside the shadow of the men’s event and a thrilling first half may well have captured the attention of new fans.
The championship was moved from its usual February and March slot, offering sunny conditions for England and France’s impressive attacks to shine, but it was the defences who stole the limelight as both sides struggled to make an impact in the opposition 22.
Despite the lack of scoring, the meeting between two teams who have dominated European rugby for the past five years did not disappoint as they delivered on the early fireworks promised by England head coach Simon Middleton in the week.
The Red Roses had two penalties in the first quarter and captain Emily Scarratt uncharacteristically missed both, with the second almost in front of the posts.
The centre left the field shortly after for a head injury assessment. She was replaced by Lagi Tuima but the substitution was reversed after Scarratt passed the test around 10 minutes later.
England repeatedly failed to take advantage of attacking opportunities and France looked much more dangerous, with slick offloads almost leading to a try for Emilie Boulard but the score was ruled out because of a forward pass.
Fly-half Caroline Drouin missed a chance at three points, suggesting the strong breeze was affecting both sides’ kickers.
Finally, with the clock in the red, Poppy Cleall broke away from a scrum to bring England to within metres of the tryline, and she then picked up the ball from the base of a ruck and dived over the line.
This time, Scarratt was successful from the tee to put England seven points up at the break.
More to follow.