6 Nations

01/14/2018 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/14/2018 08:04

Women's Six Nations Three to Watch: France

Less than one month remains until the Women's Six Nations gets underway - and excitement is understandably ramping up ahead of what is set to be a thrilling Championship.

2017 was a year of what might have been for France Women, who ended up third in the Championship and then third again at the Rugby World Cup.

They had chances to beat both Ireland and England at the start of the year in the Women's Six Nations but ended up being edged out by both.

And in the World Cup it was England again who downed them at the semi-final stage, although they bounced back in fine fashion to claim the bronze medal against USA.

And ahead of the 2018 Championship, that will see France kick-off their tournament with the visit of Ireland, we pick out three players to watch:

Romane Menager

Still only 21, Romane Menager enjoyed a breakout 2017 for her country.

The flanker crossed for four tries at the World Cup and became the youngest name on the five nominees for World Rugby's player of the year.

Unfortunately for her, she had to watch on as France lost in the semi-final of the World Cup after picking up an injury.

But she is back to her best for her club side Lille, where she plays with her twin sister Marine, and both were included in Les Bleues' training squad in December.

Named in the team of the tournament at the World Cup, Menager scored a try against Japan after only 12 seconds and every team will be wary of the youngster who only made her international debut in 2016.

Safi N'Diaye

The other French player nominated for the World Rugby player of the year was Safi N'Diaye.

At the opposite end of the experience spectrum, the 29-year-old No.8 is approaching a half century of caps for her country.

The Montpellier forward has been the backbone of this France side for most of this decade with her powerful ball carrying.

With her tricolour scrumcap you always know where the powerhouse is on the pitch.

Hailing from a sporting family, her mother played volleyball and her father football while her sister is a gymnast, N'Diaye's first love was actually basketball.

And that is obvious in her dextrous offloading that has been unlocking defences ever since her debut back in 2012.

Normally in the back row, her experience was actually trialled in the second row this past autumn by France so it will be interesting to see where she lines out when the 2018 Championship gets underway.

Marjorie Mayans

While Menager and N'Diaye bring the fire in the pack, the lynchpin of the back line is undoubtedly Marjorie Mayans.

Mayans took up rugby after joining in with training at her little brother's club when she was just nine years old.

And that fearless approach has carried the 27-year-old to two World Cups and an Olympics for Les Bleues already in a stellar career.

Renowned for her hard tackling, Mayans was a key part of the France 7s team at Rio last year and also competed in both the 2017 and 2014 World Cups.

Mayans plays her club rugby for Blagnac and will need to be at her very best if France are to repeat the Grand Slam they last won back in 2014.