It is rare to see one side so utterly dominant in a rugby match. But that is what happened today when Spain hosted Russia. Spain savaged Russia in that penultimate match of the 2020 Rugby Europe Women’s Championship.
The scoring opened with a short-range drop goal by Spain, after which Russia ran in their single try. From then on, Spain was utterly dominant. Las Leonas mauled the Russians, ripped them apart, and [quite literally] had them for dinner.
It’s not even that Russia did not have the possession or the territory. In the second half, the Russian ladies had 51% of both territory and possession. it was their own sloppiness and an excellent flex-defense by the Spanish that kept them out. Meanwhile, Spain made the most of every opportunity, until the onslaught ended with 56-7 on the board.
#LeonasXV | Gran victoria de las @leonasrugby 🇪🇸 ante @russiarugby 🇷🇺 por 56-7. El próximo sábado, a las 16:00 🕓 y en directo por @teledeporte desde @GuadalajaraAyto la final contra Países Bajos 🇳🇱 para volver a ganar el Campeonato de Europa. #VamosLeonas @deportegob @iberdrola pic.twitter.com/E5ah4cqRzN
— España Rugby (@ferugby) February 20, 2021
And this puts Spain in pole position for both the 2020 Rugby Europe Women’s Championship [again] and the vital final spot to be claimed at the Rugby World Cup qualifier tournament(to be hosted by the Spaniards). There, the last spots for the Women’s 2021 RWC tournament will be decided, scheduled for September 2021.
Spain turn around Russian championship form
Before today, Russia looked to be in pole position. They had beaten the Netherlands in a very tight game in Amsterdam. That went down to the wire, but the Russian ladies ended up winning. That meant that a win today would give them the Championship and a chance to qualify.
Now it is Las Leonas that will play for the Championship and the qualifying spot in their final match against the Netherlands on Saturday the 27th. This result also, however, also means the Dutch ladies are now in with a shot at qualifying again. They will have to beat the Spanish though, which they have not managed to do for a number of years.
Spain will have remarkably few kinks to iron out if judged by today’s performance. They looked in good shape and their offloading, quick rucks and flexible defense all were impressive. Though perhaps not as surprising, when considering some of the things that make Women’s rugby its own game.
— Rugby Europe (@rugby_europe) February 20, 2021
Las Leonas now aims to meet Netherlands in RE Cup Final
On the Spanish side are a large number of Sevens players, as is the case with a large number of teams. This means that a large number of players will be far more versatile and far more used to these quick and flexible systems.
In addition to this, the Spanish ladies manage to all have remarkable speed, agility, and ball-handling skills. While few absolutely excel, they are all capable of great play. So a hooker or prop can as easily make a break on the wing as a centre can pick and go after a ruck. This sort of versatility can be a nightmare, but it is also a great asset. It is in fact, one of the great things about the Women’s game in general.
While Russia seems to play a much more conservative style of rugby, Spain can use this versatility and speed to great effect. And the other team in Europe that can, are the Netherlands. Those two sides can now replay the 2018 final; with the Dutch side hoping to make a better showing for themselves, then occurred back in that 54-0 thrashing at the hands of Las Leonas.
This ongoing rivalry all makes for an interesting showdown next Saturday. While surely the Spanish ladies are riding a major high now, after savaging Russia to such an extent, there is still one major challenge ahead, in the form of the Netherlands.
2020 Rugby Europe Women’s Championship final – Spain v Netherlands
“Main photo credit”
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