England win Women’s Six Nations after Scotland hold France to draw

England coach Simon Middleton has paid tribute to his players after they retained their Women’s Six Nations title after chief rivals France were held to a 13-13 draw by Scotland.

With England due to face Italy next week, France needed a win in Glasgow to take the title race to the final round of games next weekend but they had their 10-point lead reeled in after the wing Rachel Shankland crossed in the 73rd minute. Helen Nelson’s conversion meant the match finished level as Scotland avoided defeat for the first time in three rounds of a tournament that has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. England are now six points clear at the top of the table and cannot be caught, with their final match in Italy on Sunday.

England have not played since beating Wales 66-7 in March but have won all their games so far in the tournament and can complete back-to-back grand slams if they win in Italy.

“We are delighted to have retained the title after four big performances from the team to date,” said Middleton.

“It’s a fitting reward for all the hard work put in earlier this year. We have a big week ahead and the aim is to stay focused on securing the grand slam in Italy next weekend.”

England have not played since beating Wales 66-7 in March but defeated France 19-13 thanks to tries from Abby Dow, Vicky Fleetwood and Emily Scarratt before going on to record big wins over Scotland and Ireland. They can complete back-to-back grand slams for the first time since 2012 if they win in Italy having now won the title on a a record 16 occasions. Middleton will announce his squad to travel to Parma later this week.