The Women’s Six Nations kicks off today in a reduced format due to the ongoing pandemic. the competition was postponed from February/March and it wil lnow take place over the next four weeks as a two groups of three team round robin matches with a final day play off based on the group standings.
Ireland have been placed in Pool B alongside France and Wales. Unfortunately, the Ireland side, and Italy in Pool A, sit the first week out.
|POOL A||POOL B|
For the first time ever all matches will be shown live on the BBC and RTE, mostly streaming on their players or red buttons, but there should be no problem catching the games.
|20:00||France||v||Wales||Stade de la Rabine|
All eyes will be on the viewing figures for the games and if high enough it could signal a permanent move to this date for the competition. However, the first and second rounds clash with the men’s European Club knockout stages and the final round clashes with the start of the Rainbow Cup so the figures may not be as high as anticipated but it will be an interesting battle between free to air coverage versus pay per view on top of the perennial men v women’s sport debates.
What to Expect
As a self appointed aficionado of the women’s game I do believe that this is gong to be a fascinating, if short, tournament. With the announcement of the Women’s International Global Calendar last month, the next three years are going to see huge changes in the women’s game with all the sides in this completion needing to go professional, in some shape or form, if they are going to stay in the party.
In terms of camps and training, the teams have had a trial run at “professionalism” over the last six months as camps have been the only show in town in a lot of cases. This will be a real test of each teams coaching set up and any under-performances could (and should) lead to wholesale clear-outs as countries set to position themselves for the exciting road ahead.
England and France have a head start having offered (semi) professional terms for the last few years and you would expect them to continue to dominate the tournament this time round. The bookies are expecting England to beat Scotland by more than 50 points and France to beat Wales by more than 30. However, I expect the games to be more competitive.
Both Scotland and Wales are featuring new coaching tickets, which throws another unknown into the equation, but I expect Scotland to continue the huge improvements they made under Philip Doyle and Wales, who were so disorganised last time round, will have benefited from a period of stability.
I’m still expecting England and France to win with some comfort but I anticipate, and hope, that both games are more competitive than the bookies are predicting.
Players to watch are England centre Emily Scarratt who truly is the “Greatest Player of her Generation”, now that Niamh Briggs has retired, and in the French game look out for scrum half Pauline Bourdon who has a wonderful skill set and can be delightfully unpredictable.