Rugby. 6 Nations (F): France fall against England, who reach the Grand Slam

France were beaten 13th in a row by England (42-21) to reach their sixth straight Grand Slam in Bordeaux on Saturday in front of a record crowd of 28,023 for a women’s rugby match in France.

After halftime (35-14), Manae Feleu’s teammates spent the second period in the lead after a red card addressed to Assia Khalfaoui (43E).

Reliable English realism

But that is not the only reason for the defeat. Clumsiness, manual errors, missed opportunities, an attempt rejected by the video… The French women may have sinned with too much commitment, the desire to do well and also with excitement. However, we must not overlook the clinical performance of the Englishmen, who never missed an opportunity to score when they found themselves in the French camp.

However, we saw some great things from the French side, with a lot of play, a strong defense, three quarters who try and dare, the forwards regained their automaticity on the touchline. But more was needed in Chaban-Delmas on Saturday to beat the English, who dealt a major blow eighteen months before “their” 2025 World Cup.

After the first shots, from the 4th minute “Red Roses” quickly took the lead (14:0, 11E), carried by their powerful pack led by captain Marlie Packer and, against all odds, fired up by a Blue defense that made it their “identity”.

The Blues tried everything

But the English are also now three-quarters on fire, encouraged by their new coach, New Zealander John Mitchell. Back lines that should not be left too much space, as in 24E minute, when Émilie Boulard, who wanted to pass the ball to Gabrielle Vernier, was intercepted by the center Megan Jones.

French women also have their X factor, and it has a nickname we want to sing about: Gabrielle “Gaby” Vernier.
The pocket center, named the best player of the 2023 tournament and a bit shy since the start of this 2024 edition, found fault when he equalized the first French attempt (17.E).

The second was at the end of a French scrum, from which unsustainable scrum half Pauline Bourdon Sansus was able to send Marine Ménager (14-21, 27E). After returning from the break and as large black clouds reappeared over Bordeaux, the sky fell on the heads of Manae Feleu’s teammates.
Khalfaoui, who had already received a yellow card last weekend in Wales, picked up another one after the bunker turned red.

However, the French continued to believe in it, played fast, camped in the enemy’s camp, pushed and pounded the English lines until they offered a double to Marine Ménager (35-21, 69E). But it was too little too late, England even got a point with a sixth try and a double from Matthews.

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