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After England’s win against France in Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam, Sarah Hunter, England’s captain, was still on the pitch when she said to BBC Two that it wasn’t their best game.
After a brief struggle against their hosts, the Red Roses won the fourth Six Nations title in succession. This further cements their position at the top of world rankings.
Hunter is a strong leader, but the rest of the squad shares Hunter’s drive to improve.
France and New Zealand, hosts of the World Cup in October, are poised to rebound. So what can England do to stay ahead of them?
Reach the wings
The 2021 Six Nations final saw France’s forwards dominate and England only manage a 10-6 victory.
Louis Deacon, a former lock for England and Leicester, has been appointed forwards coach to help turn the tide.
It was obvious that the Red Roses’ rolling maul was the one responsible for all three tries that led to Saturday’s 24-12 win.
England players will be returning to their clubs at the end of the Premier 15s season, before meeting again in July for warm-up fixtures for October’s World Cup.
After the set-piece is sorted, the next thing on their agenda may be how to make more space for England’s wings so they can get on the ball.
Simon Middleton, head coach, has depth at almost all positions but is still trying to perfect his starting fullback.
Keep your strength!
England’s next match will give them the chance to immortality.
They could win their 24th consecutive victory, which would be an unprecedented feat for any team in the top tier.
Since July 2019, the Red Roses have never lost and are especially dominant in this year’s Six Nations.
They won the France game by less than 50 points. Their final score of 282 in five games is a record number for points scored in Women’s Six Nations.
Now, the challenge is to keep their grip on the game up until the World Cup finals on 12 November.
“The frightening thing is that we don’t even believe we’ve played that well in this tournament,” Natasha Hunt, scrum-half, told BBC Sport.
“We believe there is so much more to be done. It’s amazing to feel like the target on your back. You know that people are after you and fear you a lot.
Choose a side
England’s Rugby Football Union is leading the charge in investing in its women’s side.
Other unions are catching up. Wales handed out 12 professional contracts, the first such award since the Six Nations.
Since 2019, the majority of England’s professional squad has been in the game professionally since the RFU established the Premier 15s league to support player development.
All that investment is paying off now, and Middleton boasted during the Six Nations that he had enough talent to field two equally strong starting XVs.
Middleton declared Saturday’s victory the best England team he has ever coached. Now, the challenge is to determine who gets on board the plane to New Zealand.
Six Nations dominate England
England broke the record for most points in a single Women’s Six Nations. Their total of 282 surpasses their 278 in 2019.
After their 74-0 victory over Italy, they won a 69-0 thrashing in Ireland, a 55-8 win over Wales, and a 57-5 win against Scotland.
21 players scored 45 attempts, with hooker Lark Davies, prop Sarah Bern and winger Lydia Thompson each scoring five.
England conceded only four tries throughout the entire championship
Centre Emily Scarratt was the tournament’s highest point scorer with 39. This included 13 conversions, two tries and one penalty.
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Marlie Packer, a dynamic flanker, led the tournament statistics with nine turnovers won and 59 carries.