England beat France to seal Grand Slam hat-trick

England number eight Alex Matthews capped an impressive tournament with two tries

41 minutes ago

Women’s Six Nations: France v England

France: (14) 21

Tries: Vernier, M Menager 2 Cons: Queyroi 3

England: (35) 42

Tries: Muir, Matthews 2, Jones, Packer, Cokayne Cons: Aitchison 6

England sealed a third consecutive Six Nations Grand Slam against a 14-player France side in Bordeaux after Assia Khalfaoui’s second-half red card.

The Red Roses started fast through tries by forwards Maud Muir and Alex Matthews before Gabrielle Vernier responded.

Centre Megan Jones grabbed an intercept try to restore England’s 14-point advantage, with Marine Menager then scoring to keep France in touch.

But tries by Marlie Packer and Amy Cokayne pulled John Mitchell’s side clear before Khalfaoui saw her dangerous ruck clear-out upgraded to a red card by the television match official ‘bunker’ system.

Despite being a player down for the majority of the second half Menager crossed for her second try, but Matthews made sure there was to be no famous comeback with her second score.

Victory means a sixth Six Nations title in a row for England and extended their record winning streak to 29 games.

It also secures Mitchell’s first championship in charge of the Red Roses, while he remains undefeated since taking charge last autumn.

Clinical England deliver in Bordeaux

With Stade Chaban-Delmas covered in blue and the atmosphere bouncing in Bordeaux, England showed no signs of being overwhelmed by the occasion as both Muir and Matthews crossed for early tries after slick handling.

Despite the fact France have been unable to defeat England since their last Six Nations title in 2018, only one score has separated the sides in three of their last four championship meetings.

That belief showed when Vernier cut a brilliant line to go over and turn up the volume on what was already a loud French crowd.

Coming into the game Mitchell’s side scored 14 tries in a ruthless display against Ireland, who finished third in the championship, to signal the gap in quality at the top of the table.

A surprisingly narrow win over Scotland earlier in the tournament left questions over whether the hosts would be able to properly challenge for the title.

France spent large portions of the opening half in England territory and despite scoring the pick of the first-half tries – when Menager fended off Jess Breach to finish off a superb backs move – struggled to convert their chances.

Fly-half Holly Aitchison has had a mixed tournament with the boot up until this match, with Mitchell saying in the week he had no concerns over her kicking and being proved correct in Bordeaux.

Aitchison kicked all five first-half conversions – which included a touchline kick for Jones’ try – to pull England further ahead after scores from Cokayne and Packer.

More to follow.


France: Boulard; Grisez, Konde, Vernier, M Menager; Queyroi, Bourdon Sansus; Deshaye, Sochat, Khalfaoui, Feleu (capt), Fall, Escudero, Hermet, R Menager.

Replacements: Riffonneau, Mwayembe, Joyeux, Feleu, Gros, Chambon, Ciofani, Jacquet.

Red card: Assia Khalfaoui (45).

England: Kildunne; Dow, Jones, Heard, Breach; Aitchison, Hunt; Botterman, Cokayne, Muir, Aldcroft, Talling, Kabeya, M Packer (capt), Matthews.

Replacements: Powell, Carson, Clifford, Ward, Feaunati, L Packer, Scarratt, Gregson.

Referee: Maggie Cogger-Orr (NZ).


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