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Six Nations: speaking factors from a weekend of pleasure for Wales | Paul Rees

1) Wales experience wheel of fortune

Wales’s head coach, Wayne Pivac, admitted his aspect had loved moments of fortune of their opening three victories, however a 12 months in the past they had been on the unsuitable aspect of the (English) referee once they misplaced at dwelling in opposition to France, two selections specifically costing them. A characteristic of their marketing campaign is that they’ve been fast to react, coming from behind in opposition to Eire and Scotland, admittedly with a person benefit, and responding after England closed a 10-point lead. After they received the grand slam in 2019, they regarded to dominate opponents and put on them down however this 12 months they’ve been extra opportunistic and faster in thought. Conscious of their limitations, they’ve made probably the most of fortune and as a collective they had been extra organised and conscious than England who had been too sluggish to take care of the surprising.

2) England undergo at fingers of French referees

At the very least England is not going to have a French referee of their subsequent match. 5 of their previous eight defeats have come when an official from the opposite aspect of the Channel has been in cost. Included in that quantity is their 13-6 defeat in Cardiff earlier than the 2019 World Cup when Pascal Gauzere had the whistle and allowed Dan Biggar to take a penalty rapidly when Anthony Watson was nonetheless on the pitch making his option to the sin-bin. Return to the 2015 World Cup and their two group defeats had been managed by Frenchmen as was their subsequent loss, in Eire in 2017. Gauzere acquired it unsuitable when he allowed Biggar to kick a penalty to Josh Adams on the left wing when, on his orders, England had been in a huddle listening to their captain, Owen Farrell, inform them to enhance their self-discipline. And once more when he ignored Louis Rees-Zammit’s knock-on within the build-up to Liam Williams’s attempt. England is not going to make a grievance to World Rugby, however they need to not must.

3) Self-destruction by indiscipline

France provide extra referees to the Check panel than another nation and they’re, usually, constant of their utility of the regulation. From the beginning on Saturday, Gauzere was strict on gamers getting into a breakdown from the again, not the aspect, and remaining on their ft. It’s a part of the sport’s drive to cut back head accidents by making use of legal guidelines governing the ruck, but it surely was enforced earlier within the High 14 than the Premiership and England misplaced in opposition to Wales primarily as a result of they didn’t react to the way in which Gauzere was refereeing and carried on regardless. Having fought again to 24-24, they self-destructed by conceding three penalties they may not dispute, all in positions the place their line was not beneath menace. Maro Itoje has been touted as a substitute captain to Farrell, however he conceded the primary of them, his fifth of the match. No leaders, no lead. Choices price them 14 factors. They misplaced by 16.

Italy suffered one other heavy defeat, this time in opposition to an out-of-form Eire. {Photograph}: INA Picture Company/Shutterstock

4) Smith left to survey Roman ruins

Italy’s head coach, Franco Smith, stated after his aspect’s thirtieth successive defeat within the Six Nations that he didn’t anticipate his younger aspect to be aggressive on the high for as much as eight years. An Eire group on a three-match shedding run within the event received comfortably and for all Italy’s attacking intent their defence has conceded 12 tries in two matches to 2 cautious sides after the defeat in opposition to England. “We have now to crawl earlier than we will stroll,” stated Smith, however it’s not simply the defeats his aspect are slumping to however the method of them: their previous 10 have been by a mean of 30 factors and it’s three years since they secured a shedding bonus level. “We have now to assist these guys as a result of in seven or eight years when this group might be aggressive in opposition to everybody.” Because the Six Nations enters a industrial partnership which might be all concerning the backside line, the query will change into whether or not the event is healthier off with out a group who at all times discuss tomorrow.

5) Sexton appears to have extra in tank

Johnny Sexton is at an age when his rugby obituary has been penned and each defeat, detached show and harm brings its deadline day ahead. The Eire fly-half drives himself on with the 2023 World Cup his vacation spot. He recognises he should pause at every cease alongside the way in which however with Joey Carbery’s harm disrupting Andy Farrell’s succession plan he stays a central determine within the squad. Having missed the defeat in opposition to France within the earlier spherical, his choice for a match when the query was what number of Eire would win by was thought to be a failure to deal with the longer term, however the victory bore his fingerprints as he schemed and coaxed and if he’s taken care of, rested every summer time maybe, he might properly make it to France. Whether or not his half-back partnership with Conor Murray does is one other matter: Craig Casey’s cameo from the bench in Rome prompt it is not going to.