2023 Ireland vs England - Women's

2023 Women's Six Nations Round 4: France Plays With England Match In Sight

2023 Women's Six Nations Round 4: France Plays With England Match In Sight

England and France, the two countries that have dominated the Women's Six Nations for the past seven years, look bound to meet again to decide the champion.

Apr 21, 2023 by Briar Napier
2023 Women's Six Nations Round 4: France Plays With England Match In Sight

What did we all learn in Round 3 of the Women’s Six Nations?

That the status quo at the top of the table, for the moment, probably is staying the same.

England and France, the two countries that have dominated the competition for the past seven years, look bound for a collision course and final meeting once again to decide which team gets to celebrate with a trophy.

But before they can meet in 10 days to decide who walks away with hardware, fixtures to prepare them for what’s to come await in Round 4. 

England will be highly favored for another big win. For France, it’ll be in for a test in which things could be a bit tricky against an upstart opponent, if it isn’t careful.

If both get through the barriers standing in the way relatively unscathed, however, the potential France-England meeting to decide it all likely would be another classic between the two rivals.

Below is a look ahead at the Round 4 fixtures in this year’s Women’s Six Nations, with all matches in the competition being streamed in the United States, live on FloRugby.

Ireland Vs. England

Remember how it was thought England going to a sold-out Cardiff Arms Park to play the then-unbeaten Welsh in Round 3 could give the Red Roses a bit of trouble if they weren’t careful

England brushed aside those concerns with authority and utter dominance in a scintillating display.

Wales scored first through a penalty kick from Keira Bevan to take a 3-0 lead early, perhaps giving the home support some hope that a historic result was on the horizon. Then, England proceeded to scored 59 unanswered points for an emphatic statement victory that only further emphasized how far much of European women’s rugby still is behind the two-time world champions. 

Coach Simon Middleton’s squad hit Wales for nine tries through nine players, as it merely built upon its lead atop the Women’s Six Nations table with a point’s advantage over France and a massive scoring differential of plus-170, with 31 tries scored to just two allowed. 

With their meeting against the French on the competition’s final day (April 29) almost certainly bound to act as this year’s de-facto championship match, the aim for the English against the Irish this weekend should be to take care of business as early as possible and minimize injury risk in order to fully prepare for attempting to capture a fifth consecutive Women’s Six Nations title and 18th overall since the precursor Home Nations tournament era began in 1996. 

Ireland is in danger of the dishonor of a Wooden Spoon for the first time since 2004, having been blasted by opponents by a combined score of 108-15, with no more than seven points scored in any of its matches. 

England, meanwhile, hasn’t scored less than 58 in this year’s Women’s Six Nations, nor has it lost to the Irish at any point since 2015. This could get a bit lopsided.

Scotland Vs. Italy

If things go right for Italy the next two weekends, Le Azzure have a serious chance of finishing as high as third place (assuming England and France are deadlocked into the first two places), which would be their best finish in the Women’s Six Nations since their epic runner-up placing in 2019. 

A strong performance against the French (a 22-12 defeat) in Round 1 was parlayed into a 24-7 victory over Ireland in Round 3, doing so without injured captain Elisa Giordano. Alyssa D’Inca scored twice for her country in the win in Parma. 

Now properly off of the blocks with its first victory of the tournament, Italy will be favored in Round 4 to make it two off the bounce, even on the road in Edinburgh. 

Scotland was outclassed in a 55-0 demolition by France last weekend in an overall no good, very bad afternoon for the visitors in Vannes, leaving the Scots sitting at the bottom of the table on a minus-118 scoring differential and a winless record. 

In order to avoid a second consecutive Wooden Spoon, Scotland needs points, and fast, and it only has two more matches left to do it. 

A performance more closely resembling the 34-22 loss they had to Wales in Round 2 will be what the Scots are seeking this time around, and the more activity they get on the attack from the likes of Exeter Chiefs fullback Chloe Rollie and Worcester Warriors hooker Lana Skeldon – both of whom already have scored tries in the Women’s Six Nations – the better. 

Yet the Italians have demonstrated the ability to burst through back lines and be clinical in their scoring, and when they fly over to face the competition’s most leaky, try-giving defense (24 allowed in three matches), it could be a field day and a big result for the tourists, as they attempt to set themselves up for what should be a fun match in the final round against Wales. 

France Vs. Wales

So, if England easily took care of the squad (Wales) that was positioned to play a possible spoiler role, how will France handle them? 

Bound to be intertwined until further notice as the only two winners of the Women’s Six Nations since 2016, the two highest-ranked European women’s rugby sides in the world and the subject of many battles on the pitch between them over the years, the English and French won’t clash in this year’s tournament until Round 5.

Until then, France has some business it needs to tend to, anyway. 

France has dominated the Welsh in recent meetings, winning each of its past three games against the country by at least 49 points, but as France learned in its hairy Round 1 win over Italy, it can’t take any opponent for granted in the Women’s Six Nations, regardless of its status and rankings on the world stage. 

Throw in the fact that Wales looked good leading into the England match, including victories over Ireland and Scotland.

Ioan Cunningham’s team has played at a much-improved level from the one that finished last in the competition two years ago, even if they were stomped by the powerful Red Roses – as most teams around the world, even some of the most talented ones, usually are. 

Regardless, however, Wales is going to need to jumpstart the attack that made it blisteringly effective in its first two rounds of play, and the key to doing that probably lies with teenage prop Sisilia Tuipulotu, as evidenced by the two successive player-of-the-match performances she had against the Irish and the Scots. 

But France’s attack, meanwhile, looked downright devastating against Scotland, as Emilie Boulard scored a hat trick, while six of her teammates crossed over in the meantime, solidifying Les Bleues’ status as, for now, the only squad in the Women’s Six Nations that deserves to be mentioned in the same conversation as England. 

Wales can’t let a similar outburst happen against the French, if it wants to get the winner’s share of points.