The Rugby World Cup is over, but international rugby is still very much going on. England’s women faced France on Saturday and came out winners in a momentous victory. The first of three Autumn internationals for the Red Roses, Saturday’s win was England’s first on French soil for seven years.
This is significant. For the last few years, England and France have dominated women’s rugby in the Northern Hemisphere, being the only two teams to have won the Six since 2016. The Roses’ first game of the 2020 competition is away to France again, and could very well be a competition decider, and thus overcoming the hurdle of a victory on French soil is symbolic.
France took the lead with a Jessy Tremouliere penalty after early pressure from the hosts; but with two tries from captain Sarah Hunter converted by the boot of Emily Scarratt alongside an additional penalty, England went in at half-time with a convincing 17-3 lead.
Scarratt carried her immaculate kicking display into the second half, knocking over another penalty on the 72-minute mark to give England breathing space after a converted Camille Boudaud try cut England’s lead to seven.
Saturday’s result represented a perfect end to a whirlwind week for Emily Scarratt. A week that included at 12 000 mile round-trip, the chance to watch the men’s World Cup Final and saw her pick up the women’s world player of the year award.
This award should act to validate Scarratt in her decision to leave the Rugby Sevens career behind her and focus exclusively on Union. She finished fourth with Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics, whilst earning a Bronze medal with England in last year’s Commonwealth games in Australia. However, as one of the 28 women awarded professional contracts at the start of 2019, she can now focus all her efforts on her sporting career.
Scarratt is a player of immense skill. “She can do things that no other player can do,” commented her England coach Simon Middleton, “and that included the men’s game,” and after a week of red-eye flights and soaring emotions, to compose herself and play such a significant role in Saturday’s win suggests she possesses a cool head, too.
Written by Will Sewell