England Women win Six Nations Grand Slam

England Women were crowned RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam champions after a tense and hard fought 11-10 victory over France in Rennes.

The victory hands England a record breaking fifth consecutive Six Nations title, and a fourth Grand Slam in five years but England had to hold their nerve until the death to keep their Grand Slam ambitions alive.

In front a packed crowd, who rallied Les Bleus on in vociferous style, England’s sole try came courtesy of Richmond scrum half Amy Turner. Darlington Mowden Park Sharks fly half Katy McLean added two penalties, while France’s points came from the boot of their fly half Aurelie Bailon and try scorer Celine Allainmat.

England Head Coach Gary Street, whose side conceded just 15 points throughout the championship campaign, said: “Even though this was a tight game, the victory was never in doubt in my mind. We knew France would throw everything they had at us and they made us work very hard for this win. But we showed great character and mental strength to turn this around.”

With the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010 just five months away, England’s latest scalp sets up the Red Roses perfectly for rugby’s ultimate tournament which will be held on home soil this summer.

Street added: “This is great world cup preparation for us. We need tough games and France gave us exactly that. Now it’s back to work as we look ahead to the world cup which we just can’t wait for.”

France immediately raised the game for the Partisan crowd, and made a threatening start going close after a line out, catch and drive but England overturned the ball to keep the hosts at bay. Bailon too had an early chance at goal with a fourth minute penalty but that went astray. Another penalty on 13 minutes, however, earned France their first points of the evening.

With England trailing the reigning champions managed to claw their way back into the game when a fantastic drive by the pack which saw them gain 15 metres and threaten France’s try line. Turner did just that and took the ball from the back of the pack to barge her way over the try line. McLean however missed the conversion.

Good pressure from both sides kept the vocal crowd entertained on the rain soaked evening at the Stade Velodrome, and although France lost Claire Canal, who was red carded, England kept their noses just ahead at the break.

A 47th minute penalty by McLean handed England an 8-3 lead after the restart but the wet conditions began to take their toll with both sides making handling errors. England, however, paid the heaviest price for their errors, when a dropped ball in the midfield, saw France pick up and dart the length of the field. England made a crucial tackle just before the line but wing Celine Allainmat was in support and carried the loose ball over. With Bailon converting France took a 10-8 lead on 56 minutes.

England made the changes and rolled their experienced replacements on, and substitute Alice Richardson looked like she had done enough to score with a good break to the try line, but again was tackled just short of the line by the determined French.

England were also left a player short when Karen Jones was sent to the sin bin for a late tackle, but with McLean adding her second penalty England put themselves back into a 11-10 lead.

The drama was by no means over though with France handed a penalty in extra time. The kick of Balion, however, this time did not have the length and the ball was short. With England collecting they cleared the ball out of play to take the thrilling victory, and the Grand Slam, in France.

Final Score France 10 (3) England 11 (8)


Tries: Turner
Penalties: McLean (2)

Tries: Allainmat
Conversions: Balion
Penalties: Bailon

Match Officials
Referee: Al

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