Six Nations Summary | In the Dark

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I didn’t see many of the games in this year’s Six Nations Rugby because I was abroad for most of it, but yesterday I saw the last round of matches. The last one, between France and England in Lyon, was probably the best game I’ve seen in this year’s tournament. After a fascinating ebb and flow, England thought they had snatched it with a converted try to make it 31-30 with just a couple of minutes to go, but then immediately conceded a penalty on the halfway line. Up stepped Thomas Ramos, who had scored from a similar distance earlier in the game, stepped up and scored. France won 33-31 in a game that could have gone either way. It was effectively a playoff for 2nd place.

Earlier in the day, Ireland held off a spirited challenge from Scotland in a tense and scrappy match to win 17-13 which guaranteed they would be Six Nations Champions. for the sixth time. I don’t think the team reached the heights of last year’s Grand Slam but it was a deserved victory. It was all a bit more comfortable than the scoreline suggests, though Scotland did score a try late on when Ireland lost concentration which made for a nervy few minutes. A defeat would have meant metaphorical rain on the St Patrick’s Day parades going on today, but in the end there was no rain, either metaphorical or literal.

Given the result in Lyon, Ireland would have been Champions by virtue of their bonus points, even if they had lost to Scotland. England (who beat Ireland last week in a game I didn’t see) had to win with a bonus point to catch them; they managed the bonus point for four tries, but lost the match. Some pundits have commented on whether it was fair for a team to have won having lost more games than the second place team. Of course all the teams know the rules before the competition starts, so there’s no point complaining after the fact. Ireland played attacking rugby knowing that the try count might be important. However, I do think there is a point. In the old Five Nations, and indeed in the World Cup Pools, each team played four games. A bonus point from each of those matches would add 4 to a team’s total, the same as a win. In the Six Nations each team places five matches, so the bonus points could add up to more than a win. A way to remedy this might be to award more points for a win: six for a win and three for a draw is my suggestion.

The first game of the last round yesterday was between Wales and Italy, a game which Italy won to finish 5th. They were unlucky not to beat France earlier in the competition and have played some excellent rugby this year. If they can deal with a marked tendency to fade in the last twenty minutes – as they did yesterday, but managed to hold on – then they will be genuine contenders. Wales had a terrible competition, losing all their games and finishing last. I am reliably informed that “wooden spoon” in Welsh is “llwy bren”.

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