Red Roses hope to make rousing TikTok Women's Six Nations statement in toughest of all cauldrons

·3-min read
England face France in a hotly-anticipated battle in Bayonne
England face France in a hotly-anticipated battle in Bayonne

By Paul Eddison

It is time for England to step up and show that they are unquestionably the world’s best team away in France - the toughest of all cauldrons.

The Red Roses are unbeaten since 2019 and looking to secure a fourth successive TikTok Women’s Six Nations title.

And after a campaign that has seen them run in 42 tries and concede just two through their first four matches, today’s clash in Bayonne is the ultimate test.

Even without skipper Sarah Hunter, England’s side looks formidable. Led by Emily Scarratt, they can call on Poppy Cleall, nominated for World Player of the Year in 2021 and recovered from the calf injury that left her on crutches a week ago, to replace Hunter.

But France have won 21 of their last 22 home games in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations and are also four from four this year.

Like England, they twice hammered New Zealand in November and England coach Simon Middleton knows that this Grand Slam decider will not be easy.

He said: “I suspect everyone looked at this fixture at the start of the Six Nations and singled it out as a potential decider, well that’s what we’ve come to. France have been in great form during the campaign but so have we.

“As a staff group, we are massively proud of the way the players have attacked this competition, we challenge them every day to be the best they can be in everything they do both on and off the field and they have risen to the challenge as one. Saturday will not define us as a team but there’s no hiding away from the fact that so much is riding on the game. That’s fine by us, we want that level of challenge, otherwise how do you realise your potential and prove your worth?

“Matches against France are always tight affairs. We know this one will be no different. I believe it will come down to which squad can maintain their intensity and focus, something we have done well in this competition.”

There is even more riding on the game with the two teams drawn together at the World Cup in New Zealand later this year.

England have won nine in a row against the French, but six of those have been decided by a score and the gap has been razor-thin.

Elsewhere, Wales will look to bounce back from heavy defeats to England and France, when they host Italy. A win would see them secure three victories in a single campaign for the first time since 2009 but the Azzurre beat Scotland last time out and have a strong record on the road in Wales.

The tournament concludes with Ireland hosting Scotland, the visitors still searching for a first win.

Scotland stunned Ireland in dramatic fashion in the World Cup qualifiers at the end of last year, a late converted try knocking Ireland out of contention, so there will be revenge on the mind for the home side in Belfast, even if they are still without their Sevens contingent.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations is more accessible than ever before. To find out how you can watch the Women’s Championship visit: womens.sixnationsrugby.com/tv/

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