France and England women start successfully

The 2000 Women's Five Nations, with Spain filling the vacancy left by Ireland's decision to withdraw from the competition, opened February 4 in Swansea where France won 27-10 over Wales. On February 6, England defeated Spain 31-7, in Banbury.

The tournament continues February 18 with England away to France, at Massy, with the other games: England v Wales, Newbury, March 5; Scotland v France, Edinburgh, March 5; France v Spain, Dax, March 18; Wales v Scotland, Caerphilly, March 19; Scotland v England, Edinburgh, April 1.

Dates and venues have to be confirmed for two matches, Spain v Wales and Spain v Scotland, which has just been postponed from February 19.

Scotland remain hopeful they will be able to go to Spain in April but have first to come to terms with the loss of Sportscotland Sports Lottery national player funding worth £90,000.

"We were told it was because we had not met our target of winning the European Championship last season. Instead we finished third and now we are back to where we were in 1994 when the players had to pay out of their own pockets to represent their country. We will of course be appealing", added SWRU chairwoman Barbara Wilson.