England retain Women's U20 Nations Cup title

(IRB.COM) Wednesday 27 July 2011
 England retain Women's U20 Nations Cup title
England U20 remain unbeaten in 2011 after a victory in the final of the Women's Nations Cup

Hannah Gallagher scored a hat-trick as England successfully defended their Women's Under 20 Nations Cup title with a 48-11 victory over USA in the final of the four-team tournament at the University of California - Santa Barbara.

The eight try victory not only kept the silverware in English hands, but also meant that Amanda Bennett's charges went through the year unbeaten with Wales, Scotland, France, Canada, South Africa and USA (twice) falling by the wayside.

England had beaten their American counterparts 110-0 in the last edition of the Under 20 tournament in 2009, and looked on course for another big win after establishing a 31-0 lead by half time, only for the hosts to come out with renewed vigour after the break.

"This is a fantastic result not just for all the U20s players but for England Rugby," said head coach Amanda Bennett, whose side had beaten USA 37-0 on match day two. "Since the squad came together in October we have made significant improvements in our game and these have culimated in a great team performance and winning the 2011 Nations Cup.

"Against the USA, we were outstanding in the first 40 playing at the tempo and in the style we had planned, but after the break the USA were ferocious, coming out with a desire to restore pride and put points on the board. Their physical approach really tested us and it showed in the second half scoreline.

"We have beaten every team we have faced this year which is a wonderful achievement. The true test now for each of these players is not just to enjoy this moment but to build on this success and take their game to the next level."

South Africa were the only team to score against England in the round robin stages, full back Phindile Mtshali touching down for a side growing in confidence with every outing who still took positives away from a 66-7 loss to the defending champions.

Canada utlimately claimed third place, bouncing back from the disappointment of the 15-5 loss to neighbours USA and missing out on the title decider to beat South Africa 32-5 on Saturday, scoring three tries in each half.

Women's Under 20 Nations Cup results

Thursday, 14 July
Canada 0-41 England
South Africa 3-25 USA

Sunday, 17 July
South Africa 7-27 Canada
USA 0-37 England

Wednesday, 20 July
South Africa 7-66 England
Canada 5-15 USA

Saturday, 23 July
Third place play-off - South Africa 5-32 Canada
Final - England 48-11 USA

The attention now turns to the senior version of the competition, involving the same four nations, which kicks off at Appleby College in Oakville, Ontario, on 2 August with USA against defending champions England and hosts Canada against South Africa.

A first chance for all bar England to return to competitive action following the record-breaking Women's Rugby World Cup 2010, the English will again be favourite to defend their Nations Cup title with a squad featuring many of the side beaten 13-10 by New Zealand in the WRWC final on home soil.

Canada coach John Tait has selected a "real mixture of veteran athletes and fresh faces" as he begins the "four-year cycle" to the next Women's Rugby World Cup in France in 2014, while South Africa welcome back livewire Natasha Hoffmeester after she missed WRWC 2010 with injury.

Women's Nations Cup fixtures

Tuesday, 2 August
16:30 - Canada v South Africa
18:30 - USA v England

Friday, 5 August
17:30 - England v South Africa
19:30 - Canada v USA

Tuesday, 9 August
16:30 - South Africa v USA
18:30 - Canada v England

Saturday, 13 August
14:00 - Third place play-off
16:00 - Final

All times local

For more information: www.womensnationscup.com