Six Nations: speaking factors from the weekend’s motion | Paul Rees


1) No slam for Wales however loads to construct on

The grand slam was snatched from them on the final after they’d pressured France to dig to the underside. The frustration will linger as a result of they have been so shut, however in time they may replicate on a event that ought to set them up for the approaching years. Fortune could have abandoned them on the finish with claims for what would in all probability have been a match-winning penalty attempt waved away, however after a fitful 2020, they solid a post-Warren Gatland identification, good and daring. France turned their third opponents of the yr to have a participant despatched off with all of the crimson playing cards coming on the breakdown, an space the place Wales compete arduous. Their head coach, Wayne Pivac, will in all probability have to exchange just a few stalwarts earlier than the World Cup, however adjustments is not going to now be an act of desperation.

2) France evade trademark fade in astonishing ending

A lot for the speculation that France fade within the remaining quarter. They have been trailing Wales by 10 factors and have been all the way down to 14 males after Paul Willemse’s crimson card however they nonetheless received, admittedly with a person benefit on the finish. France are wealthy in character once more and, if a victory in a compelling match that was completely faraway from the stodge that was served up within the Autumn Nations Cup had a contact of fortune, it got here as a result of they didn’t let frustration get the higher of them in an indication of how they’ve grown up beneath Fabien Galthié. They may safe their first title since 2010 in the event that they obtain a bonus-point victory over Scotland in Paris on Friday by 21 factors or extra, one thing they haven’t managed within the fixture there for 14 years, and the opportunist Scots is probably not the foil for a workforce that now not play it secure.

Brice Dulin scores the dramatic late successful attempt towards Wales that rewarded France’s persistence. {Photograph}: François Mori/AP

3) Eire’s late cost exhibits renewed freedom

They recovered from a sluggish begin to win their remaining three matches however solely towards England did they appear to be a workforce going someplace. They have been motivated by 4 consecutive one-sided defeats to Eddie Jones’s facet, however in addition they packed a component of shock that unsettled a workforce ready for the anticipated. Eire will replicate on two slim defeats, in Wales after they wasted a penalty within the remaining minute that might have given them a platform to attain the attempt they wanted to win, and at house to France when an absence of creativity price them. It has taken them time to maneuver away from the tactical rigidity of the Joe Schmidt period, however having overpowered Scotland, they stretched England and put tempo on the sport.

4) Scotland’s early expectation ebbed too simply

The nearer they get, the additional away they appear. A primary victory at Twickenham for 38 years ought to have been the springboard for a primary tilt on the title within the Six Nations period, however they have been unable to carry on to a 14-point lead at house to Wales and, after recovering from a 14-point deficit towards Eire at Murrayfield, instantly gave the sport away. They’re by no means extra weak than when loaded with expectation, in distinction to Wales who’ve come to thrive on it: their drawback was once when it comes to having the ability to compete bodily, however now it’s about mentality. There will likely be no strain on them in Paris on Friday evening, however they should ship when there may be.

5) England should rekindle coherence

Eddie Jones reckoned England completed the event in higher form than they began it, however given the best way they carried out towards Scotland on the opening weekend, it was not saying a lot. They performed in flashes towards Wales and France, however they lacked coherence. Finally they’d nothing to fall again on with their set items creaky and the breakdown as problematic because it was in 2018, when in addition they completed fifth. Jones has no motive to panic, however England’s performances since reaching the World Cup remaining have been nowhere close to ok. It has been a time when the membership that have been a serious a part of his basis, Saracens, fell from grace. None of their six gamers he has used this marketing campaign has been anyplace close to their finest and so they type, in the primary, the backbone of the workforce. A squirt of air freshener is required.

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6) Italy make up the numbers as soon as extra

One other yr, one other whitewash. Do no factors imply no level? The Italian Rugby Federation has trousered £35m from the Six Nations cope with the personal fairness firm CVC, which would seem to safe their future within the event within the medium-term, however whose curiosity is served in a blow-out each spherical? Comparisons are made with France after they entered the championship greater than a century in the past and struggled to make an impression for a few many years, however the recreation was beginner then and there was no military of coaches. Italy have a clutch of promising younger gamers however they’re changing into scarred by going into video games when the result isn’t unsure.

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