Women’s Six Nations 2021: Wales must ‘stick together’ despite heavy opening day defeat, says Siwan Lillicrap

Wales must put their trust in new head coach Warren Abrahams despite being thrashed 53-0 in Vannes by France in their 2021 Women’s Six Nations opener, insists skipper Siwan Lillicrap.

A first-half hat-trick by Caroline Boujard helped Les Bleues begin their Championship campaign in style, with Annick Hayraud’s side running in eight tries at the Stade de la Rabine.

Boujard crossed three times in the opening 20 minutes while Agathe Sochat also scored, with Pauline Bourdon converting all four tries, as the hosts stormed into a 31-0 lead at the break. 

Emeline Gros added another two tries after the restart before Emilie Boulard and Laure Touyé completed the scoring – and Lillicrap admitted the result was a tough one to take.

“There was plenty of spirit, effort and positive attitude,  but it was a difficult evening. What we must do now is trust the process and our systems and take a look at ourselves,” she said.

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“That type of scoreline is tough to accept, and there is no hiding from that. There is a lot of emotion in the squad. We have to trust in what Warren and the management are trying to bring in.

“It is exciting and it is a change. Things don’t happen overnight and we will learn from this and take a good honest look in the mirror and fix things ahead of next week.

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“There are a few things in defence we can fix this week. We fixed our scrum in the game, but we can’t afford lapses of concentration.

“We have got to front up and get a platform to give ourselves some opportunities to attack against Ireland. The positive thing is we saw glimpses of that, but the challenge is to find a way to move forward and be consistent with it.

“I am proud of the girls and the effort. Now we have to concentrate on Ireland and fight to get a top-end finish on ‘Super Saturday’. It is going to be a huge game.”

It proved to be a night to forget for Abrahams, who was taking charge of his first game since being announced as full-time Wales head coach in November on a three-year contract.

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Wales will now look to bounce back from their humbling in Vannes in their second Pool B game against Ireland next weekend in this year’s streamlined Women’s Six Nations.

Lillicrap believes her team can take encouragement from the way Wales’ men turned their fortunes around under Wayne Pivac to win this year’s Guinness Six Nations title.

“The main message is we have got to learn from this. The main focus is how we put things right for next week,” added Lillicrap, who led from the front with two line breaks. 

“Things don’t change overnight, just look at the men’s team this year from last. We have to trust what Warren is bringing to the squad and buy into it because it is a fresh style.

“Things have been hard with the pandemic, but the unity and culture within the squad, and how close we are as a group of players, is like never before. It is so important we stick together and keep fighting and believing so we can see a change.

“We didn’t want a score like that and there is nobody more gutted than us. We will take a long, hard look at ourselves and we will be back fighting next week, I can assure you of that.”

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