Six Nations Rugby

Da5id Weatherwax

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While the USA looks forwards to another Superbowl, over here the Six Nations games are underway! So here's a thread for talking Rugby.....

France took on Wales at the Stade de France this evening to open the 2019 tournament.

The rain was hammering down when the match started and it didn't let up at all, making life difficult for the players. There couldn't have been a greater contrast between the two halves of play. The first half was utterly dominated by France, with Wales making the kind of fundamental mistakes that would make anyone aware of the proud and massive tradition of Rugby in Wales shake their heads. The French were playing well but in all honesty they didnt really need to with the way the Welsh seemed almost eager to hand the ball over. It was obvious that if nothing changed at half-time the 16-0 score was going to get even more lopsided and the Welsh were in for a monumental thumping.

But things did change.

Both sides came out for the second half looking like completely different teams. The Welsh had their game faces back on and the French seemed to be tiring, making handling errors in the difficult conditions and as Wales seized control of play France began to add tactical errors to the mix too, such as stringing together long passes towards the wing when the Welsh side are known for reading those and picking them off. The turnaround was profound and decisive, with the scoreboard showing 19-24 in Wales' favor at the final whistle.
 

Da5id Weatherwax

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2018
Messages
134
Location
Edinburgh
SL Rez
2007
Joined SLU
08-20-2010
SLU Posts
1467
Well, yesterday's games were interesting. Scotland played host to Italy just down the road from me at Murrayfield while England visited Dublin to take on the Irish.

The Italians, although they are "traditionally" the underdogs in Six Nations Rugby, having been consistently low-order finishers since they joined the Five Nations tournament to make it six, should not be underestimated. Their Rugby play is like their football, free and dynamic. They are capable of some of the most amazing technical play and as such when given the chance to play their style of game they are very much a force to be reckoned with. The dynamism of their play simply lacks cohesiveness and solidity and it is this that the other sides in the tournament have consistently exploited. This was very much in evidence at Murrayfield where the Scots coalesced into an imposing juggernaut and had the bonus point for a fourth try wrapped up inside the first half hour of the game. You could see the Italian side trying to open up the game and shift it to a style that favored them but every such attempt was firmly stomped on by a convergence of Scottish boots.

At least until the last 10 minutes of the game. A yellow card sent a Scottish player to the sin-bin and the Italians had their opening, the man disadvantage forcing Scotland to play a more open, Italian-style game. Even after the sides were once again even on the pitch this dynamic showed, with Italy punching in three rapid-fire tries against a Scotland side that appeared to have started to relax thinking the game was in the bag. It wasn't enough for Italy, though and the game ended 33-20 for Scotland.

In Dublin the match was very different. Ireland are the reigning champions in this tournament and deservedly so. Their team is drilled to the point of perfection and their precision play is superb. Taking them on at home is always daunting. Against that came a solid English team that has proved very difficult to defeat. For the entire first half things were going England's way. Beginning with a somewhat cheeky early try from a quickly-taken lineout the English side kept a narrow but significant margin of dominance. They had time to make plays, the Irish were frequently forced to kick in a hurry from well behind the gain line. At half time the score was 10-17 with much of the first half witnessing England camped not just in Irelands half of the field but inside the 22.

The second half opened like it was going to be a repeat of the first, with the Irish players looking more and more like skittles to the English bowling ball until a penalty in Ireland's favor brought the score margin within three and the Irish tucked in and looked like they were going to swing the game their way. I'd have loved to have been in the stands for that game because even watching the broadcast the tension was palpable. Everything was in the balance and everybody watching could feel that this few minutes was where the game would be decided.And it was. It was Vunipola's versatility, a prop almost acting like an extra flanker, that turned the game back towards England. Flankers are typically not the biggest of the forwards in a Rugby side but they tend to make a lot of the critical tackles. When those tackles are made by a prop with Vunipola's size, speed and strength, the other player is going nowhere but down. My own memories of being on the receiving end of such treatment in the school and college games are still perfectly vivid 30 years later! In the end that was what hammered the bung home on the Irish resurgence and the final score was 20-32 for England.

That closes out the first weekend's play with Scotland ranking first thanks to their superior points difference, England breathing down their necks from the same number of match points just a lower score margin.