Scrumhalf of the year Laure Sansus scored twice as France defeated South Africa 40-5 in the opening match of the Women’s Rugby World Cup on Saturday in Auckland.

Sansus and flyhalf Caroline Drouin shone for the French, who raced 19-0 ahead in the first quarter at Eden Park but only won with three tries in the final 15 minutes.

Favorites in the tournament England was scheduled to play Fiji next before hosts New Zealand faced Australia in front of a likely capacity crowd of 40 000 – a world record for a women’s rugby Test.

France had to work harder than expected to defeat South Africa, whom they had defeated by an average of 45 points in their previous three meetings.

Sansus, who was named player of the tournament in this year’s European Six Nations, broke clear in the second minute to score.

Drouin set up the second try with a chip that was superbly gathered by centre Gabrielle Vernier before French winger Emilie Boulard raced 45m for the third via an intercept.

Despite a yellow card for flanker Sizophila Solontsi, South Africa had the better of the middle stages.

Their physicality set up winger Nomawethu Mabenge’s 60th-minute try, prompting France to regroup.

Sansus scored her second goal before Drouin scored in the closing stages.

She crossed for a try before setting up a last-second five-pointer for winger Joanna Grisez with another pinpoint tactical kick.


Women’s Springboks 5 (0)

Nomawethu Mabenge is an option.

  1. France (19)

Laure Sansus (2), Gabrielle Vernier, Emilie Boulard, Caroline Drouin, and Joanna Grisez have all tried.

Drouin (2) and Lina Queyroi converted (3).

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