Red Roses clinch Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam at Twickenham

England sealed a Six Nations Grand Slam in front of a record women’s crowd of 58,498 at Twickenham, holding on for victory against France on a landmark day for the sport. After a nervy start, Helena Rowland broke free in midfield and Abby Dow tore down the right wing to score and further fuel the already festival-like atmosphere in the London sun.

With the hosts seemingly settled, four more tries followed for a 33-0 half-time lead in England women’s first standalone Test at the ground. That proved enough to secure a fifth Six Nations title in a row, but the Red Roses could not push on after the break and it was France who scored five tries to their one.

The announcement of the attendance – surpassing the previous mark of 42,579 set at the 2022 World Cup final in New Zealand – breathed joy back into the air and Twickenham was on its feet dancing to celebrate at full-time.

In Simon Middleton’s last game as head coach, England bounced back from a heart-breaking World Cup final defeat by New Zealand less than six months ago.
It was a familiar line-up for a Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam decider, but Twickenham gameday had a whole new feel. Travelling to the ground, a smattering of England shirts at various stations across London became a swarm on the slow march to the stadium – a sight never before seen for a women’s game.

Initial England nerves led to a cagey, kicking-heavy gameplan and early penalties conceded by the hosts in dangerous positions.

France’s Jessy Tremouliere missed a kick at goal and when she kicked the next penalty to the corner, England heaved France’s maul backwards and eventually won possession on the floor.

The visitors’ steely attack was met with physical England defence and, against the run of play, the Red Roses got on the scoreboard in the 18th minute. Rowland tore into France’s half, propelled by a wall of sound she would never have experienced in her career before, but looked to be out on her own.

England quickly flicked the ball right and found wing Dow – the Red Roses’ perpetual superstar. No amount of nerves could stop her from scoring, leaving the stadium quite literally bouncing.

Settled and with the floodgates open, Holly Aitchison put in-form centre Tatyana Heard through a gap and when England captain Marlie Packer then got her hands on the ball, even three France defenders could not bring her down. The retiring Tremouliere had time for one last yellow card of her career, sin-binned in the 32nd minute for a deliberate knock-on and Alex Matthews was soon over off the back of a dominant scrum.

Then, France prop Rose Bernadou joined Tremouliere in the sin-bin for an infringement at the breakdown which gave England a penalty try. It had largely been England’s backs – corralled by scrum-half Lucy Packer’s controlled performance – delivering the points courtesy of the Red Roses’ brawn up front.

But Sarah Beckett showed the pack had deft feet too as she cut a neat line inside and sent lock partner Zoe Aldcroft into space to score before half-time.

Source: BBC

In other news – Exemptions for Great Ormond Street amid serious concerns about the strike

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has been granted exemptions to ease the pressure on its services during the bank holiday nursing strike. The London children’s hospital expressed “serious concerns” about staffing as Royal College of Nursing (RCN) members prepare to walk out.

Ormond Street Hospital

During the strike, from Sunday to Monday, nurses in the RCN union will not provide emergency care in A&E. Learn more

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