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6 Things We've Learned From The Opening Weekend Of The Six Nations

6 Things We've Learned From The Opening Weekend Of The Six Nations
By Conor O'Leary
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What did we learn from the first weekend of Six Nations Rugby? Here are the lessons from the opening weekend of the Six Nations

After 240 minutes of rugby, what do we know now that we didn't know before about the Six Nations teams? It was an insightful weekend, and one that offers hope of plenty of excitement and tension in the coming weeks.

England's Leaders Are Growing

Two years ago - when England were demolished in Cardiff - England's leaders were nowhere to be seen. They went a few scores down and started to panic. That wasn't the case this time. They may have been 10-0 down very early on, but there was no panic. Chris Robshaw and George Ford settled the side, and they clawed their way back into the game off dominance up front.

Robshaw himself was outstanding, leading the team by example with 26 tackles and a turnover.

The Welsh Gameplan Is Stale

Warrenball has been one of the reasons why Wales have been doing so well in the last number of years. Big powerful backs and a pack that look to dominate up front used to work, but no longer. Gatland's tactics haven't adapted or changed at all in his time there, and opposition players are wise to it. The amount of times that Wales would go from side to side only to make no ground was stark.


Ireland figured them out last season, and England this year. Wales were clueless when they needed something, and it didn't look like they could pull themselves back into it.

Ireland Still Win Playing Badly

It wasn't a vintage performance from Ireland by any means. They controlled possession and territory, but rarely looked like they were going to score. They ground it out and won despite not playing well. A sign of champions perhaps, but knowing Schmidt, there will be plenty to work on.


It's pleasing in some aspects, as that was the type of performance that Ireland could have lost from, but instead a healthy 23 points were put into the points difference race.

Italy Are A Distance Behind The Rest

Scotland and France might be improving, but Italian rugby isn't. They were in a good place after last year's Six Nations after discovering quality youngsters like Michele Campagnaro and Tomasso Allan. Neither of the two players have done anything of note since.


In fact, Allan lost his place in Italy to Kiwi Kelly Haimona. Haimona displayed a big boot in the Autumn against Argentina and not much else. Luke McLean came in off the wing into first receiver a lot, and Haimona doesn't defend in the ten channel, and he doesn't inspire much attacking threat from the Italian backs.

Italy's backs haven't scored a try since last year's Six Nations, and a big reason for that is Haimona. They didn't look like threatening Ireland's try line today, despite the last minute TMO decision. Allan changed things when he came on, and he needs to be the fulcrum of the side going forward.

Scotland Are Building Something Exciting


Things are looking up up North. New coach Vern Cotter is top class, while the new influx of exciting backs means that Scotland look to have a bit of woshkabomy for the first time since the turn of the millenium.

Stuart Hogg and Mark Bennett have X factor, and both can defend. Bennett has the potential to be the best outside centre in the Northern Hemisphere since O'Driscoll, and has a similar low centre of gravity to a young O'Driscoll. The pair of them compliment each other well, and the likes of Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw and Alex Dunbar or Matt Scott will pose teams a lot of questions in the coming years. I fancy them to get more than one win this year.

France Finally Have Substance


France have been uncharacteristically poor since reaching the World Cup final in 2011. They have struggled in the Six Nations, only turning up to play against Ireland in the last three years. The influx of foreign players has dramatically decreased the number of top class French players playing quality rugby, while the selection policy has been baffling with the likes of Morgan Parra and Francois Trinh Duc finding themselves out of the team at various occasions.

Not this year though. Saint Andre started things off by naming a very strong team, and with Parra and Kockott at scrumhalf, and Camille Lopez solving a long-standing issue at fly half, France look a lot more solid and potentially threatening. There isn't a sense of a sleeping giant anymore, and France have come to play.

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