New April dates announced for women's Six Nations rugby
Rescheduled rugby dates have been announced for the 2021 Women’s and U20s Six Nations Championships.
The 2021 Women’s championship will take place in April with the U20s championship following in June and July.
The announcement by Six Nations came after the recommendation of a working group specifically tasked to examine various rescheduling options after the decision a month ago to postpone both championships because of the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19.
Starting on the weekend of April 3-4 and finishing on April 24, this year’s Women’s Championship will see a new and condensed format similar to that of the recent Autumn Nations Cup, culminating in a grand final weekend to crown the Six Nations Champions 2021.
The format will comprise two pools of three teams, with each team playing one home and one away fixture. Once the pool round matches are complete, teams will face off against the opposing ranked team from the other pool in the play-offs matches, i.e. first place Pool A v first place Pool B.
Regular Borders choices for the Scotland women’s squad could be set to feature again – from Hawick, front-row forward Lana Skeldon, plus centre and former captain Lisa Thomson, along with Jedburgh’s own Chloe Rollie at full back.
CEO of Six Nations Rugby, Ben Morel, said: “The promotion and development of rugby at all levels is a key strategic priority for Six Nations. We see huge opportunity for growth in the women’s game in particular and feel it will benefit hugely from having its own specific window and being firmly placed in the limelight.”
“Our priority has always been to deliver two outstanding tournaments but equally ensuring both competitions can be played safely, taking every consideration for player welfare.
"A significant challenge we faced in rescheduling the Women’s tournament was the limited available window because of World Cup Qualifiers, domestic leagues, rest periods and World Cup preparations for qualified teams. Following consultation with our unions and federations as well as other key stakeholders, it was agreed April would be the best window in which to stage the championship.
“The U20 Six Nations Championship is also a hugely important competition in terms of player development and for those representing their country at this level it is a major milestone in any career. We look forward to announcing fixture details for the U20’s in due course.”
Scotland Women will begin their 2021 Women’s Six Nations campaign against England on the weekend of April 3, before facing Italy on the weekend of April 17. The detailed fixture dates, venues and kick off times will be announced in due course.
Scotland Women head coach, Bryan Easson, said: “Although the postponement news in January was disappointing, we fully understood the decision and we look forward to showcasing what we are capable of as a squad during this new window for 2021.”
“With the tournament being a condensed format, it’s crucial we play our best rugby against two very formidable opponents, England and Italy. It’ll be an exciting challenge for us, as we look to build upon the performance against France last October.”
Six Nations Rugby Limited also confirmed today its intentions for the 2021 U20s championship to take place across June and July in the same format as originally planned but through a condensed three-week period.