France skipper Gaelle Hermet condemned her side’s poor start in their Women’s Rugby Super Series opener, as they slipped to a 36-19 defeat at the hands of Canada.
Despite being the fresher side after a bye in the first round, Les Tricolores suffered the worst possible start to their campaign in San Diego as the North Americans reclaimed third spot in the world rankings from the 2018 Grand Slam champions.
Tries from Safi N’Diaye, Laure Sansus and Jessy Tremouliere weren’t enough as Canada maintained control for much of the game, producing a dogged performance which frustrated France’s fluidity throughout.
Following a disappointing 2019 Six Nations campaign, Hermet cut a frustrated figure after the final whistle.
She said: “We needed to take better care of the ball which would have given us a better chance to play with it.”
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) 2 July 2019
Indeed, the match began at a ferocious pace and it was France who scored the first try when N’Diaye bounded over to cancel out Sophie de Goede’s early penalty.
Tyson Beukeboom went over for Canada but Sansus restored the French advantage after a clever team move following a scrum in the middle of the pitch to put her side 12-10 up after 14 minutes.
Canada’s defence regrouped in response, and the 2014 World Cup runners-up enjoyed a sustained period of pressure which saw Janna Slevinsky smash through France’s backline to take a 17-12 lead into the break.
After the interval, Canada took control and tries from Sabrina Poulin and Laura Russell gave them a commanding lead going into the last 20 minutes of the game.
France refused to lie down and a Tremouliere try in the 64th minute gave them hope, but a late score by Amanda Thornborough put the game to bed and sealed defeat for Hermet and her side.
Following the disappointing result, things don’t get any easier for France as they face world champions New Zealand in their next encounter on Saturday.