France 15-17 England: Match called off because of floodlight failure

Women’s Six Nations champions England’s Test in France was called off in the 63rd minute after the floodlights went out, giving the Red Roses victory.

Concerns over player welfare because of the amount of time it would take for the lights to come back on led to the decision to stop the game.

Because more than 60 minutes had been played, England are awarded the win.

The Red Roses were leading 17-15 thanks in part to Abby Dow’s impressive scores when the lights went out.

England were looking to finish their spring schedule on a high after winning a third Six Nations title in a row against the same opponents last weekend.

They had managed to edge into a narrow lead with 20 minutes remaining before France were robbed of the chance to end the Red Roses’ now nine-game winning streak against Les Bleues.

“It’s really tricky for all these players,” England scrum-half Natasha Hunt said on BBC iPlayer.

“You don’t want to finish a game like this. I have never experienced anything like this – it’s crazy.”

After the lights went out, players initially lingered on the pitch uncertain of what was happening before heading into the dressing rooms to stay warm.

After waiting about 20 minutes, England’s management expressed concerns over increased risks of injury given the long break in play and referee Clara Munarini called off the match.

Dow’s solo efforts hold off early French pressure

Before it was brought to an early end, the match had been a chance for both side’s backs – Dow in particular – to shine.

France dominated early possession and, after handling errors initially halted their progress, centre Maelle Filopon made it over the tryline thanks to nifty work from the ruck by scrum-half Pauline Bourdon.

England soon replied through Dow’s first impressive showing of the half. Centre Emily Scarratt sent a ball long and Dow flew around tacklers and down the right wing to cross.

Unusually, fly-half Zoe Harrison was entrusted with kicking duties in place of Scarratt and added an extra two points.

Harrison’s moment in the spotlight was short-lived when she was shown a yellow card for being caught offside 5m from her tryline.

Bourdon continued to cause trouble with quick play and Jessy Tremouliere cut through England’s 14-woman defence with ease to score France’s second try, but the full-back missed her conversion.

As the first half drew to a close, Dow swooped in once more to save England. The wing caught a high ball and covered half the pitch, darting past no fewer than five French defenders to score.

Scarratt took over kicking duties in Harrison’s absence and her conversion gave England a 14-12 lead at the break.

Harrison penalty seals victory

Harrison returned to the field to take England back up to 15, but the visitors gave away an early penalty to give Tremouliere the chance to put France back in the lead.

A high tackle by prop Annaelle Deshayes allowed the England fly-half to repay the favour almost immediately as she claimed three points from the tee.

Indiscipline continued to be the story of the second half as flanker Julie Annery dropped her knee on Poppy Cleall’s face and was sent to the sin-bin as a result.

England could not make the most of the numerical advantage and some of the energy was sucked out of the game as they struggled to make any progress in attack.

Neither side got their chance to regain any momentum as the lights went out and England sealed a victory which sees them remain at the top of the world rankings.

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