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Women’s Six Nations 2020: Six things to look out for this weekend

Defending Grand Slam champions England beat France in their opening game last weekend
Women’s Six Nations: round two fixtures
The BBC Sport website will have video clips from all three matches and you can also watch match highlights on BBC One from 23:45 GMT on Sunday.
Date Match Kick-off Coverage
Saturday, 8 February France v Italy 20:00 GMT Watch on BBC Red Button and online
Sunday, 9 February Scotland v England 12:10 GMT Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; watch on BBC Alba; live text online
Sunday, 9 February Ireland v Wales 13:00 GMT Score updates on BBC Sport website & app

England got their Grand Slam defence off to a winning start in the Women’s Six Nations, while there were also victories for Italy and Ireland in the opening round.

Round two begins when France welcome Italy on Sunday evening, before the Red Roses travel to Scotland and Ireland host Wales on Sunday.

Want a quick round-up of the biggest talking points this weekend?

With the help of BBC Rugby Union Weekly’s Sara Orchard and Philippa Tuttiett, BBC Sport has chosen six things to look out for in the second round of matches.

England’s Amber Reed

Emily Scarratt scores decisive try as England beat France

After helping set up an impressive try for World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year Emily Scarratt against France, centre Amber Reed has been given a place in Simon Middleton’s starting XV for Sunday’s game against Scotland.

The 28-year-old Bristol back won the World Cup with England in 2014 and has 54 caps but only came back into the England fold in June after being sidelined with a back injury.

She also missed the November Tests because of injury but impressed former Wales captain Tuttiett on her return to international rugby in Pau last weekend.

“We talk about dominating collisions as an attacker – watch Amber Reed,” Tuttiett said. “That is exactly what she does. But she’s also got lovely soft handling skills. She timed a lift to Emily Scarratt beautifully to score last weekend.”

Fixture logjam

Rugby Union Weekly listener Jemima asked: “Who on earth is responsible for the shambolic scheduling of the Women’s Six Nations games? I was having to watch Ireland v Scotland on the TV, while streaming the epic France v England game on my phone.”

Jemima has a point. For the opening round of the tournament, the weekend’s three games all kicked off within 30 minutes of each other.

You needed either a very impressive multi-screen set-up or a self-imposed exile from social media if you were to enjoy the suspense of all three without knowing the score.

“It was really frustrating when the fixtures came out,” said Tuttiett.

The situation is slightly better this weekend. Only two of the games overlap, with Scotland v England beginning 50 minutes before the start of Ireland v Wales on Sunday.

And it could be fully sorted soon. Six Nations organisers are planning a full review off all aspects of the tournament – sponsorship, scheduling, broadcasting rights and the rest – at the end of this season.

Will Wales bounce back?

Magatti try helps Italy edge Wales

Wales threatened a comeback against Italy last weekend, but were defeated 19-15 by the Azzurre.

The hosts dominated the first 20 minutes and had a 10-5 lead at half-time, but Tuttiett thinks they need to work on their attack if they are going to beat Ireland on Sunday.

“They need to be in the right areas of the field in attack,” she said. “They could not get out of their 22 against Italy.

“The momentum was behind Wales going into the game, seeing the new breed of attack we saw them play in the autumn. Wales should be beating Italy now. And a certain amount of Wales’ defence is strong but it needs to be more adaptable.”

Ireland seek redemption

‘What a score!’ Parsons interception seals Ireland win

Ireland managed to hold off Scotland to win 18-14 last weekend, but Tuttiett believes Adam Griggs’ side still have more to prove against Wales.

They will play at Donnybrook again in their second home game in a row and BBC Radio 5 Live rugby reporter Orchard says that will give Ireland a “massive boost” but wonders if the side are “falling away” after winning two Six Nations titles in the last 10 years.

And Tuttiett pointed out that it might take time for Ireland to adapt to the absence of forward Claire Molloy, who is taking a sabbatical from rugby to continue her training in emergency medicine.

“There has been a change of personnel for Ireland,” Tuttiett added. “Anna Caplice is making a good bit of ground at number eight. She doesn’t normally play there.

“They are not the Ireland of old and you can imagine Adam Griggs will want to put things right. We could see a different game come out against Wales.”

Can Scotland reduce handling errors?

Scotland’s Chloe Rollie plays for English club Harlequins in the Premier 15s

“How did Scotland lose that game?” asked Orchard on the podcast.

Scotland had more territory and possession and won 100% of their scrums against Ireland, but could only come away with a losing bonus point.

The result could largely be blamed on the 15 handling errors the visitors committed, something which left Tuttiett “frustrated.”

“There are exciting players in the Scotland team,” she said. “When they pass the ball to each other in the backline it looks like they don’t like each other.

“They’re not sympathetic with their passes. It is frustrating because their backs have so much to offer but we never really saw them at their true potential against Ireland.”

France’s forwards power

England claimed victory in Pau despite France’s dominant scrum

“The French scrum – whoa!”

That was Tuttiett’s reaction to the monstering that the hosts dished out to England at scrum time in Pau last weekend.

France won four penalties from the set-piece. But might it have been just as much sleight of hand as pure shove power?

France loose-head prop Lise Arricastre seemed to get the upper hand over Shaunagh Brown with a touch of illegal sideways pushing, and the French pack did a better PR job on South African referee Aimee Barrett-Theron.

Fortunately for England, France’s misfiring backline spurned that advantage, with 18 handling errors squandering some promising field position.

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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