Six Nations Rugby | Preview: Six Nations female stars vying for Olympic glory in Tokyo
The GB squad is made up of the best players from England, Scotland and Wales, with the Red Roses dominating the squad.
Five players who took part in the 2021 Women’s Six Nations are part of the Great Britain squad but first, let’s look at the France squad.
Grand Slam tournaments galore for the French team
Camille Grassineau returns for his second Olympic Games and will be remembered for scoring the very first Olympic try in rugby sevens.
Grassineau was part of the winning Grand Slam squad in 2014, scoring tries against Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
The wing played alongside fellow Olympian Caroline Drouin in their 2017 victory in Italy, France’s first victory there since 2011.
The 25-year-old played in the 2018 campaign, scoring in the final round victory over Wales, which confirmed France’s fifth Grand Slam.
Shannon Izar is another Grand Slam winner, achieving the feat in 2014, and scored tries against England and Scotland in the 2017 Championship.
Jade Ulutule (formerly the Pesq) also scored against Scotland that year, accumulating two tries, which she did against Ireland a year later.
Ulutule is a versatile player in both XV and Seven, playing three positions in the first round of the 2018 Grand Slam campaign.
Big game experience
France are led by Fanny Horta who is one of four French players to return to the Olympics after Les Bleues registered a sixth place in Rio.
More recently, Horta has focused on the seven, but played for France in the Six Nations, with a 19-9 victory over Ireland in 2010.
Coralie Bertrand has big game experience for France after being on the bench against England in 2016, which saw the French crowned Six Nations champions in a decisive last-round game.
Center Carla Neisen is also good under pressure after playing for Les Bleues against England in 2018 in front of a record crowd in Grenoble.
Chloe Pelle is an exciting option the French have up their sleeve, Pelle replaced her Olympics teammate Grassineau for the final game of the 2017 championship, also coming off the bench in the victory over Ireland in 2019.
To avenge fourth place
Although there are a lot of new faces in the GB squad, a couple are hoping to do better than the fourth place they got in Rio.
Natasha Hunt will also want to make up for lost time after missing England’s Six Nations victory in 2021 due to injury.
However, Hunt played in every match of the 2019 Women’s Six Nations in which England were crowned Grand Slam champions and was also part of the Red Roses squad which repeated the feat a year later.
Welshwoman Jasmine Joyce was also part of the Great Britain squad in Rio and made her XV debut for Wales against Scotland in 2017.
Meg Jones, who will be co-captain of the GB team alongside Abbie Brown, also experienced the Rio Olympics, but in reserve for the Great Britain team.
The Red Rose was part of the England squad that won the 2021 Women’s Six Nations, and the center was named Player of the Match in the second round victory over Italy.
Six Nations champions for the glory of the Games?
After the dissolution of the seven-party program of the RFU, Helena Rowland and Alex Matthews have perfectly integrated into the XV of England.
Rowland is considered the natural successor to Olympian Katy Daley-Mclean and has been impressive with the boot in 2021, contributing to the third England Championship in as many years after winning the Grand Slam the year before.
Loose forward Matthews won a World Cup with England in 2014 before advancing to Seven, but made a winning comeback to the XV, winning in 2020 and 2021 alongside Rowland.
Scotland’s sole representative, Hannah Smith, will look to build on a disappointing Six Nations in 2021, which saw Scotland finish fifth.
Smith scored Scotland’s only try in their 52-10 loss to England at the start of the championship, so he’s definitely someone to watch out for.
France: Coralie Bertrand, Anne-Cécile Ciofani, Caroline Drouin, Camille Grassineau, Lina Guerin, Fanny Horta (captain), Shannon Izar, Chloé Jacquet, Carla Neisen, Séraphine Okemba, Chloé Pelle, Jade Ulutule, Reserve: Joanna GrISE, Nassira Konde, Yolaine Yengo
Britain: Celia Quansah, Deborah Fleming, Alex Matthews, Abbie Brown (Co-Captain), Abi Burton, Holly Aitchison, Natasha Hunt, Megan Jones (Co-Captain), Helena Rowland, Hannah Smith, Emma Uren, Jasmine Joyce, Reserve: Lisa Thomson