Welcome to a summary of the results from weekend 2 of WXV 2023. This week we had nine matches as all three leagues played.
It’s worth pointing out, as we get into this, a lot of the bigger sides are rebuilding after their latest competition, be that the World Cup last year or the Women’s Six Nations in the Northern Hemisphere spring. It’s not uncommon to hear comments before the match saying things like “six of the starting 15 were in the World Cup squad.”
England defeated Australia 42-7.
While this sounds like a thorough demolition by the Red Roses, the Wallaroos actually performed well for large stretches of the game. Really this game showed the difference a professional women’s game makes. England looked disjointed and remarkably out of sorts. Some of that was Australian pressure, some of that was brand new combinations. But whenever it went awry, there was someone there to cover, or recover. The forwards, in particular, just looked faster, stronger and more aggressive while remaining focused. It’s enormous credit to the Wallaroos that they didn’t concede any points in the last 20 despite being a player down. But both green five’s yellow cards, and particularly the second, were just stupid.
Canada defeated Wales 42-22
Where most teams are rebuilding since the World Cup, Wales started earlier, and 14 of their starters were in New Zealand last year. However, while Canada are definitely a Who Dey? side in men’s rugby, they’re a big deal in women’s rugby and Wales haven’t beaten them since 2006. Canada obviously have a lot to take away from this, but Wales have some positives and some clear lessons, too. Their lineout works well, on their own throw and defensively. Their cross-field kicks are good, as is their broken field running. They corrected whatever the defensive issue was that left their right wing wide open for several tries. But the Welsh scrum, which was a weapon in the Six Nations, was ripped apart and while I think the ref was a bit one-eyed at the breakdown, the Canadian breakdown work was superior and something that will worry England, New Zealand and France.
France defeated New Zealand 18-17.
This was a game of contrasting styles and, while that doesn’t always produce a thriller, as the one point margin suggests, this time it really did. It would be fair to say that the Black Ferns made almost all of the play, but Les Bleues got a couple of turnovers and long range tries very much against the run of play, plus a couple of penalties that came when they did apply a bit of territorial pressure. I know I just posted an article saying you can’t really trust stats to tell you anything, but the Black Ferns had 62% according to the official stats and I’m surprised it was that low. They aren’t publishing tackle numbers that I can see, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if France made 200 more tackles than New Zealand. France will be happy that their youngsters stood up and were counted. They made mistakes, yes, but they’d clearly been working on their defensive patterns and those worked well. Most of the things they got wrong were errors of exuberance and youth, they’ll get better with time and hard fought matches like this. New Zealand have a lot of positives to take away too. They did a lot right, their stars showed up and especially in the second half their forwards showed up. Little errors for them to correct too.
Scotland beat USA 24-14.
This score line flatters the Americans. I still don’t know how Scotland butchered what should have been their last try and at 17-0 up after half an hour and everything going in one direction they seemed to take their foot of the pedal, and let USA back into the game. However, Scotland were still comfortably the better team and, although they yielded enough to make it look close, if you think it really should have been 31-14 that’s a fairer reflection of how the match went.
Italy beat South Africa 36-18.
This match has a lot of really good, long range tries and the highlights are fun. It was already over as a contest when a SA prop was shown red for an ugly hit on an Italian player, but, to their credit, it was 2-1 in the tries stakes after that.
Japan beat Samoa 32-10
Samoa evoked the referee’s displeasure, and saw the yellow card twice. I honestly don’t know who I’d have tipped to win this game. Japan and Samoa are probably going to finish in the bottom half of WXV2, maybe fighting for third. But picking out the pecking order is tricky because most of us, including me, don’t really know these teams. Samoa are currently lined up to finish last, having lost to Japan and USA. They’re almost certain to lose to Italy and Scotland so the game against South Africa is probably winner stays up, and that’s next weekend.
Kazakhstan beat Kenya 18-12.
As I discovered in answering comments for last week’s results Kazakhstan tried to host the 2010 Women’s World Cup, so they have a history; Kenya’s women don’t so much. Both sides scored their first points in WXV, and there are some pretty tries to watch on the highlights but probably not worth a full watch unless you decide to adopt one of these teams as your second side.
Spain beat Fiji 26-19.
If you’d forced me to bet on this match, I’d have put your dollar on Fiji. Really the difference was Fiji’s discipline, shipping nine points to penalties, but this was a fun match and I made the two hours to watch the whole thing.
Ireland beat Colombia 64-3.
That’s 10 tries to nil. If you want to watch the tries, knock yourself out but it’s as one-sided as it sounds. If you enjoy watching one-sided contests for pure rugby skill, as I do, this is one to watch for that, although I must admit when there are nine WXV matches and two World Cup semifinals in a weekend, finding a couple of hours to watch the whole thing is a bit of a stretch. Sorry, Ireland Women. Maybe during the week.
Matches next week
England face Canada. I can’t see the Red Roses losing this game, but you never know. New Zealand face Wales. Black Ferns to bounce back. France face Australia. Sorry Wallaroos fans, but after beating the Black Ferns, Les Bleues by plenty.
Scotland face Japan. Scotland to march on. South Africa face Samoa. I don’t have a clue, but I think the loser gets relegated to WXV3. USA face Italy. The Azurri to win comfortably.
Kazakstan face Fiji. Before their defeat to Spain, I’d have tipped Fiji, now I’m not so sure. Kenya face Colombia. This isn’t quite as make or break as South Africa v Samoa (Ireland are the only really dominant team here) but the winner probably goes a long way to staying in WXV3. My feeling is that Kenya are better, but Colombia have played two teams with 100% records so it’s hard to be sure. Ireland face Spain. If Ireland lose this match, it will be a massive upset.