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Six Nations Catch Up

Well it certainly was an exciting weekend of men’s rugby (even if I had to endure watching the England game in an Irish bar in the middle of Oslo, which, if you didn’t already know, is not a city renowned for its rugby)! Scotland managed to save themselves from the Wooden Spoon, France continued on their Grand Slam journey, and England proved to the media sausages that they are not a team to be messed with. With only two rounds to go we see France at the top of the table with Italy, as usual, at the bottom, having scored no points in two out of their three matches and with no wins since 2015.

Scotland’s win over Italy was Stuart Hogg’s first win as the Scottish captain and in the competition, and after some dreadful errors in previous games, will give him and the team something positive to build on. The Finn Russell debacle still has a hold on this team and they needed this win to gain confidence in their abilities. They have only had two tries scored against them, showing their dominance in defence, yet only have 6 points overall to show for their efforts. The game against France in two weeks’ time will be massive, can they step up their game and do what no team have managed to do yet? Watch this space…

Despite being bottom of the table, Italy have been playing really entertaining rugby and made it hard for Scotland in Rome over the weekend to get the win. Players such as Jake Polledri, Tommaso Allan and Matteo Minozzi have been a breath of fresh air for the Azzurri and even though they need to work on their defence as well as getting points on the board, they are not a million miles away from getting to where they need to be to compete with the big boys. With Ireland and England left to face, it’s hard to see them getting any points on the board this tournament, and with the added problem of the Coronavirus spreading throughout the country, it looks like it will be an interesting few weeks!

It was defending champions Wales' first home Six Nations defeat for three years and miles apart from the same fixture last year. Despite Pivac believing that referee Matt Carley was wrong not to award his side a key second-half penalty try, the result still stands and ultimately Wales were not good enough on the day. Wales could be sitting on three from three at the top of the table if it wasn’t for a collection of mistakes that have cost them victories both in Dublin and in Cardiff but that’s sometimes how the cookie crumbles. Wales next face England at Twickenham and there are no doubts about how intense that battle will be!

At the start of the tournament I wouldn’t have ever said that France would be the only team on track for a Grand Slam. It’s been 10 years since their last one and their first time winning in Cardiff since 2010. However, this young team have been great to watch (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t like seeing the Welsh lose?) and the victory gave Shaun Edwards, who spent 12 years as Wales defence coach, a successful return to the Principality Stadium. They are a young side, but full of players that have won consecutive junior World Cups and who are developing nicely come the next World Cup, which just happens to be on French soil...

England ended Ireland's Grand Slam hopes in brutal fashion as they reignited their own hopes of landing the Six Nations title. It was a tough afternoon for the men in green, with loose kicks from Johnny Sexton and a couple of costly mistakes that England capitalised on. After 40 minutes England had their biggest half-time lead over Ireland in 18 years, 17-0, and despite Ireland gaining some consolation scores in the second 40, they are going to have to improve if they are to compete against the dynamism of the French side on Super Saturday, but for England’s sake, I hope they do!

After a couple of loose games from England it was great to see them back on form; strong, motivated and ruthless. The Twickenham crowd was in full voice and it was glorious to watch. They were dominant at the breakdown and their kicking game was tactically right on the money. Even though Ireland were rife of mistakes, it was England made the most of the advantageous positions they created for themselves (although a bonus point try would have been nice…). With the way they are playing they should win their last two matches without too many issues; however, the real question is whether Scotland or Ireland can stop France in their tracks in order for England to fight to get their hands on the prize!

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