Spain secure seventh straight Rugby Europe Women’s Championship title

Las Leonas rounded off another dominant campaign with a 53-0 win over Sweden on Saturday in the final game of the competition in Trelleborg.

Clara Piquero scored four tries as Spain secured their seventh straight Rugby Europe Women’s Championship title in style with a 53-0 win over a Sweden side that went through the whole tournament without registering a single point.

It was a very different outcome to the only previous time Spain had played Sweden on Swedish soil in 1998, when they lost 11-6 in Enkoping.

Left winger Piquero opened the scoring and rounded proceedings off, too, with Spain’s ninth try to become only the third Spain women’s player to score four times in a test. Alba Vinuesa has managed four tries in a match twice, in 2021 and 2023, but Maria Isabel Perez Garrido was the first to achieve the feat in 2009.

Spain led 26-0 at half-time having scored four tries through Piquero and forwards Valentina Pérez and Nadina Cisa and Alba Capell, with Claudia Peña Hidalgo kicking three conversions.

The second half began in similarly dominant fashion for Spain and Piquero wasted no time in scoring her second before Laura Delgado got Spain's sixth try.

Piquero crossed for her hat-trick in the 73rd minute and went over again with time nearly up after Christina Blanco had added her name to the list of scorers.

Peña Hidalgo played a big hand in both of Piquero’s late tries but she left her kicking boots in the sheds at half-time as she was only able to add one more conversion in the second half.

With just eight-hundredths of a point awarded to them in victory, Spain will still be fractionally behind South Africa in 13th place in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini when they are officially updated at 12 noon on Monday. Sweden, meanwhile, stay in 20th.

The victory also confirmed Spain’s place in WXV 2024 with a play-off against the sixth-ranked team in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 to follow. The winner will compete in WXV 2 in South Africa and the loser in WXV 3 in Dubai.

Ireland return to winning ways

There was no movement in the rankings following the result of matches in the third round of the Women’s Six Nations following wins for England, France and Ireland.

Of the three winning teams, only Ireland improved their rating – to the tune of 1.72 points – after they broke their seven-game losing run in the tournament with a priceless 36-5 home win over Wales, who remain rooted to the bottom of the standings.

Ireland ran in five tries in all, with Player of the Match Aoife Wafer getting the scoring underway in the 14th minute.

Eve Higgins and Neve Jones also crossed in the first half as Ireland went into the break 21-0 up, before Katie Corrigan and Béibhinn Parsons  – with her fifth career try against Wales – got in on the act.

Debutant Gwennan Hopkins’ 65th-minute try was all that Wales could muster as they slipped to their third defeat of the campaign. One small consolation is that they hang on to eighth place in the rankings.

Ireland travel to Twickenham to face England in the next round on Saturday, aiming to become the first team to beat them in the Women’s Six Nations since France won 18-17 in the penultimate round of the 2018 Championship.

The Red Roses extended their winning run to 27 matches with a 46-0 win against Scotland at a sold-out Hive Stadium, despite suffering their second red card of the tournament, and continue to sit on top of the standings.

Amy Cokayne, England’s first try-scorer, was shown her second yellow card in the 65th minute but England were comfortably home by then, having scored seven tries.

Ellie Kildunne and Jess Breach both bagged braces and Abby Dow and Sadia Kabeya also crossed in addition to Cokayne’s effort to silence the enthusiastic record home crowd. Marlie Packer then came off the bench to round off the scoring in the 71st minute.

England’s advantage at the top of the rankings remains 5.62 points as the win in Edinburgh did not come with any additional points due to the 20.38 points between the teams, and the same was true of  France’s 38-15 win against Italy on Sunday.

France shared their tries around with six different players getting on the scoresheet in Nassira Konde, Annaëlle Deshaye, Charlotte Escudero, Mélissande Llorens, Assia Khalfaoui and Madoussou Fall.

Alyssa D'Incà bagged a second-half brace for Italy.

France remain third in the rankings, three places and 11.5 points better off than Italy.

Photo credit: L'Espana Rugby

Last updated: Apr 20, 2024, 8:51:03 AM
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