After starting the TikTok Women’s Six Nations with defeats to England, Wales and France, Scotland finally opened their account with a 29-21 win over Italy at the DAM Health Stadium in Edinburgh.
In what was a fitting way to mark vice-captain Helen Nelson’s 50th cap, Scotland produced a performance to be proud of and, as a result, they have moved above Japan and into 10th place in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.
Scotland’s first win in 13 matches means they are in a position to qualify for WXV 2, as the team that finishes fourth in the Women’s Six Nations 2023 standings. One point stands between them and Italy in fifth with Ireland propping up the table as the only team yet to register a victory.
There is also an outside chance that Scotland could secure a top-three finish for the first time in 18 years and qualify for WXV 1. But to do that they would need to beat Ireland with a bonus-point in Edinburgh next weekend and hope that Wales are on the receiving end of a heavy defeat in Italy and return home pointless.
With Italy having 1.78 points knocked off their rating for the defeat, the Azzurre have slipped one place in the rankings to sixth with Australia the side to benefit. As things stand, Italy will play-off against Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2023 winners Spain for the right to compete in WXV 2 later this year.
The loser will join this year’s bottom-ranked Women’s Six Nations team in WXV 3, which looks destined to be Ireland unless they can turn things around in the final round of fixtures and overturn a buoyant Scotland side.
Grand Slam decider
At the top end of the table, we’re all set for a Grand Slam decider at Twickenham next Saturday after England and France made it four wins from four.
England defeated Ireland 48-0 in Cork, while France also laboured in the second half as conditions worsened against Wales and had to be satisfied with a 39-14 win.
England’s fourth consecutive bonus-point win of the Championship puts them one point ahead of France in the standings with everything on the line for what should be a fantastic occasion, watched by a world record crowd of more than 50,000.
Whoever loses the battle of Europe’s best two teams will at least have the consolation of playing in WXV 1 alongside the Women’s Six Nations champions and the team that finishes third.
Neither England nor France were able to improve their rating in victory this weekend as they were playing teams well below them in the rankings and, as such, they remain first and third, on 94.29 and 89.88 rating points respectively.