insights by sage
England have done it again! The Red Roses claimed their third consecutive Grand Slam when they beat France on Saturday night.

Demonstrative of their dominance throughout the Championship, they claimed every available point against each of their opponents. However, the final Saturday of the Guinness Women’s Six Nations was one of the most competitive in its history, with Ireland and Wales claiming narrow, crucial victories.

Wales and Ireland may have celebrated big wins at the weekend, but England claimed the ultimate prize. A straight shoot out for a Grand Slam, England have now finished first and France second in the last five Championships. On Saturday, the Red Roses adapted their game to meet the French threat. They made 604 passing metres compared to their Championship average of 1,072 – the lowest number of any team in a match this season. This forced France to abandon their low-possession strategy, resulting in their pass-to-kick ratio rising to 11.7 from 5.0 the week before. Subsequently, France made fewer kick metres than any other team in 2024. England’s tactical changes led France to depart from the strengths which have been evident throughout the Championship: their short kick cycle and ability to attack in transition.

That they so freely pivoted strategically to face their toughest opponent in the Championship is a testament to the strength of this England side. They have carried the expectation of the rugby world throughout their campaign, but have delivered five stunning performances. England are the only team who have averaged more than 1,000 passing metres per match (1,072), despite their change in tactics at the weekend. They have shown commitment to free-flowing, attacking rugby, without losing the clinical edge of a champion team. The Red Roses are a team of genuine superstars, a network built around key distributors such as Holly Aitchison, who made 421 more passing metres than any other fly-half this season (1,012). Throughout the Six Nations, insights provided by Sage have allowed us to quantify the quality of this England team. With their sights increasingly set on next year’s Rugby World Cup, how will they evolve to stake claim to rugby’s greatest prize?

As for the other four competing nations, Wales hosted Italy at the Principality Stadium to kick off Super Saturday. A win was vital for Wales, who were winless leading up to Round 5. Reflective of the tight scoreline, Wales edged Italy in terms of territory gain from kicking – they made 15 more metres – but made 38% more passing metres. Their improved control with ball in hand allowed them to heap pressure on the Azzurre, who conceded 262 metres of territory from penalty kicks at the weekend – more than any other team in a match this season. Wales’ campaign finished with elation; for Italy, their win over Ireland was the highlight of their Championship. They were rewarded for their pragmatism in that victory – their pass-to-kick ratio was the second lowest of any team in any match against Ireland (five) – but their discipline prevented further success in the Championship.

Ireland – who finished without a point in the table last season – will be thrilled with their campaign. Their third-place finish is not only a marked improvement from 2023, but secures them a place at the 2025 Rugby World Cup. Their opponents, Scotland, made more territory gain from kicking than any other team on Saturday (825). However, Ireland made the most passing metres (851), allowing them to claim their second win of the Championship. Aoibheann Reilly and Dannah O’Brien have been a key unit for Ireland throughout. Reilly has made more passing metres than any other player (2,614) and O’Brien has made the most territory gain (2,084). O’Brien’s performances in particular have been key to implementing Scott Bemand’s kick-heavy strategy, with the fly-half making 20 more kicks in play than any other player – a total of 78. Combined, Reilly and O’Brien controlled a tight contest to fall in their favour at the weekend. Their two bonus points – a try bonus against Wales and a losing bonus against Italy – ultimately sealed their place at RWC 2025 at the expense of Scotland, who only had one. Despite England’s dominance in the Championship, this result meant Ireland were also big winners in the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations.