Women's | History

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Women's History

History

2010's

A decade of change and growth

As the competition entered its third decade, England and France remained the only two winners of the Six Nations format.

England's grip on the Women's Six Nations trophy continued into the 2010's as their winning streak would extend for an impressive seven years. However, as well as resurgent France, a new power in the Women's Six Nations emerged as Ireland would make a serious impression on the tournament.

It would also be a decade that would see growth and improvement for Italy as well as growing dominance of Six Nations participants in the Women's Rugby World Cup.

The 2010's would bring ever expanding media coverage opening up the Women's Six Nations to new audiences year on year.

2010

The new decade began with a fifth consecutive title for England. However, having won on point difference the previous year, The Red Roses returned to Grand Slam winning ways with a narrow 11-10 victory over Les Bleues in the final round in Rennes.

England's ability to close out "Le Crunch" away from home and with the next best sides three wins a piece showed why they had become such a dominant force in the Women's Six Nations.

France and Ireland both won three games a piece, with the French finishing in second on points difference. This showed the continued improvement for the Irish.

A notable upset was the Scots beating the French in the opening round at home in Lasswade, Midloathian thanks to a brace of tries from Lucy Millard.

2010 saw England host the Women's Rugby World Cup in Guildford with the Twickenham Stoop hosting the final and third place play off. Joining the hosts in the competition from the Six Nations were France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Both the Red Roses and Les Bleues made the semi-finals.

2011

England's Women sealed a sixth consecutive Grand Slam with a 31-0 win over Ireland Women in County Meath to clinch a sixth consecutive Six Nations title and the Grand Slam.

2012

England win a seventh consecutive Women's Six Nations Championship and do so with a third consecutive Grand Slam.

2013

2013 would prove to be yet another landmark year in the evolution of the Women's Six Nations. Not only would England's seven year hold on the Championship be broken but Ireland would join the Red Roses and France as only the third winner of a Six Nations title. The Irish would do so in style wining with a Grand Slam.

En route to this historic Grand Slam, Ireland's women would also achieve a number of other notable firsts. A first ever test win against the English, with a 25-0 score line, would be in stark contrast to England's 31-0 win at the same venue in Ashbourne RFC two years earlier.

A further first for the Irish would be that their Grand Slam decider against Italy in Milan would become the first ever women's rugby international to be broadcast on Irish television.

This increased exposure helped to boost the profile of captain Fiona Coghlan and stalwarts such as centre Lynne Cantwell and flanker Joy Neville and head coach Phillip Doyle introducing women's rugby to new audiences in Ireland.

Interestingly the Red Roses, whose seven-year hold on the Women's Six Nations Championship, which stretched back to 2006, the year before Italy had replaced France, finished in third place after back to back defeats at the hands of Ireland and France.

2014

After a nine year wait France reclaimed the Women's Six Nations title with a Grand Slam. Les Bleues began their 2014 campaign with a real statement of intent as they took the spoils in "Le Crunch" against England in Grenoble.

The French finished glorious in Pau as they beat the defending champions Ireland.

The Irish, despite, losing their two away fixtures in Twickenham and Pau, 2014 continued to show the growth of the women's game in Ireland. The Aviva Stadium hosted a women's test for the first time as Ireland beat Italy.

After Les Bleues ending their title drought, the other major talking point of the 2014 Women's Six Nations Championship was the rise of the Azzurre, who finished above Scotland and Wales, with a best ever fourth place finish. However, the Italians still failed to score a point against the top three of France, England and Ireland. Italian scrum half Sara Barattin was considered a player of the tournament.

The 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup was hosted by France in the Parisian suburb of Maroussis in August. The tournament would prove to be a roaring success for Six Nations participants as England, France and Ireland joined Canada in the semi-finals, showing the strength of the Women's Six Nations.

England would go on to be eventual winners with players such as out half and captain Katy McLean, centre Emily Scarratt and openside Maggie Alphonsi becoming household names as they helped The Red Roses reclaim the World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

This success both on and off the pitch would lead to Gary Street's side winning the prestigious accolade of Team of the Year in BBC's end of Year Sports Personality of Year Awards.

Towards the end of 2014, there was another landmark moment for women's rugby and the Women's Six Nations as the first ever women were inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Of the six females inductees, three represented the Six Nations with Carol Isherwood and Gill Burns of England and Nathalie Amiel of France.

2015

Despite having won their first Grand Slam two years earlier and then reaching the semi-finals of the Women's Rugby World Cup the previous year, with a highlight being a win over New Zealand's formidable Black Ferns, Ireland came into the 2015 tournament as a side rebuilding with key retirements from the likes of Coghlan, Cantwell and Grace Davitt after the World Cup.

Another change for Ireland came with their appointment of a first ever full time coach for the women's side as former Ireland international Tom Tierney took the reigns from the celebrated Doyle.

After a disappointing home loss to France in Ashbourne in the second round, the Irish regrouped to beat the reigning World Champions England in the same venue in the following round to keep them in the hunt for silverwear.

Yet it still looked like the French were on track for a Grand Slam until the fourth round when they came unstuck by a continually improving Italian side in Padua.

The title was to be decided in the final round. With France beating England 15-21 in Twickenham it meant that the tournament would be decided on points difference. Ireland needed to beat the Scots by a margin of 27 points or more. The Irish ran out 73-3 winners in Cumbernauld to win the Championship and Triple Crown.

It was to be an historic weekend for Irish Rugby as the men also clinched the Championship on points difference. This double was another first for Irish rugby.

Ireland may have benefitted from some key English and French players being on World Series Sevens duty but the side captained by talismanic fullback Niamh Briggs built on their confidence from recent years' success.

Again, Italy would prove to be a story of the tournament as they climbed a place above their record best of fourth place in 2014, to finish in third after beating France, Scotland and Wales.

2016

The 2016 edition of the Women's Six Nations was yet another landmark tournament in terms of growth and change for women's rugby as it was the first time all games were available to be viewed by the armchair fan either broadcast on television or live streamed.

In terms of match day attendances, records and new ground were also broken as France's hosting of Ireland in the second round in the Stade Aimé Giral in Perpignan attracted a record Women's Six Nations crowd of 11,700. France's game against England would also be a sell out attracting a crowd almost 10,000 strong in the final round.

A highlight of the 2016 tournament was an improving Welsh side beating France in the third round at the Gnoll, Neath.

Les Bleues went into their final fixture against an unbeaten England on the hunt for a Grand Slam. However, France's captain and hooker Gaelle Mignot helped inspire her side to both a test and Championship win scoring two tries with a 17-12 score line, denying the English the chance to hold both the men's and women's Six Nations titles in 2016.

Another important development for the women's game and the women's Six Nations was the RFU awarding professional contracts to 48 English female players including 16 for XV game for the 2016/17 season. With a further 16 short term contracts being awarded to 15-a-side players to allow them to partake in residential camps in the lead up to the 2017 Six Nations and Women's Rugby World Cup.

In 2016, Sian Williams became the first female player to sign a professional contract with the Welsh Rugby Union.

2017

England Women clinched the Grand Slam with a dominant second-half display as they beat Ireland 34-7 Dublin's title decider. Amy Wilson-Hardy's try separated the sides at the break after a cagey first-half but the Red Roses superb handling was the difference in the second period. Emily Scarratt, who scored 14 points herself, scored a brilliant fourth try to dispel any hopes of an Irish come back with 20 minutes to play and secure England's first Grand Slam since 2012. The Irish women ended their 2017 Championship second on the table.

Meanwhile, France Women finished their Women's Six Nations on a high as they powered to a bonus-point 39-19 win over Wales in a free-scoring encounter in Brive.In front of a fervent crowd at the Stade Amédée Domenech Jessy Trémoulière was outstanding from the boot and also chipped in with a try to finish with 19 points in all. Les Bleues managed five tries, while Wales got three in response in a fitting finale to the Championship, which saw the French finishing in third and the Welsh finishing in fifth.

The Scotland and Italian Women finished their final Championship match in a stunning 14-12 comeback victory for Scotland to claim their second win of the Women's Six Nations and fourth place finish on the overall table.

Women's Records 2007-present

Finishing Positions

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
2002 France England(TC) Spain Wales Scotland Ireland
2003 England Scotland France Wales Ireland Spain
2004 France* England(TC) Spain Scotland Wales Ireland
2005 France* England(TC) Scotland Spain Ireland Wales
2006 England* Wales France Scotland Ireland Spain
2007 England* France Wales Ireland Scotland Italy
2008 England* Wales France Ireland Italy Scotland
2009 England Wales(TC) France Ireland Scotland Italy+
2010 England* France Ireland Scotland Italy Wales
2011 England* France Ireland Wales Italy Scotland+
2012 England* France Ireland Wales Italy Scotland+
2013 Ireland* France England Wales Italy Scotland+
2014 France* England (TC) Ireland Italy Wales Scotland+
2015 Ireland (TC) France Italy England Wales Scotland+
2016 France England Ireland Wales Italy Scotland
2017 England Ireland France Scotland Wales Italy

* Grand Slam + Whitewash TC Triple Crown