Now that week two of the 2015 RBS Six Nations has been consigned to the history books, what do we know about the state of European rugby?
England are a force
French newspapers have claimed that Ireland are title favourites, but England are rightly 8/13 favourites in Paddy Power at the moment. England will come to Dublin in two weeks for what will end up being the title decider. They have always had powerful forwards, but seem to have stumbled on a trio of Bath backs that have brought a bit of woshkabomy to their play. Jonathan Joseph, Anthony Watson and George Ford have given them a potency that England haven't had in a long time, and will come to Dublin in a fortnight in a scratch game according to the bookies.
They scored tries at will against the Italian defense that Ireland struggled to break down, but also showed chinks in their armour conceding three tries.
Ireland have a lot to improve on
Based on the first twenty minutes alone, Ireland need to do more to get points on the board. They only threatened the try line once, when Sexton blasted a 25 yard pass into Jared Payne's face from 5 yards away. Ireland were particularly poor at defending their own ruck ball, which is something that England disrupt better than anyone in the world. There are positives, Sexton and O'Brien were excellent on their return, but there is so much more that can come from Ireland.
Sexton is still the best
He may have been out for the last 12 weeks, but Sexton oozed class this weekend. He slotted in so seamlessly, and his control of the game is outstanding. Ireland are very fortunate to have him in their ranks.
Scotland have the most exciting backs
While Ireland don't look like scoring, Scotland look like they could score at any moment. Stuart Hogg has been given a license to do as he pleases in attack, and together with Mark Bennett and Finn Russell, he's leading the Cotter era somewhere nice. They don't seem to get over the line as often as they should, but they will give Ireland plenty of problems in the final game of the championship.
Six Nations debutantes on song
It's noticeable that the majority of the best performing players in this years championship are enjoying their first Six Nations. Robbie Henshaw (21), Finn Russell (22), Jonathan Joseph (23), Mark Bennett (22), Anthony Watson (20), Jonny Gray (20) and George Ford (21) are standing out as key players for their sides. Each of those players are all 23 or under, and should be fixtures in their respective teams for many years to come.
The future is bright