Six Nations Round 2 – What Can We Learn From An Explosive Round Of Tests?

The Six Nations simply never disappoints. As: Ugo Monye rightly stated: after the second round of fixtures had concluded, ‘anyone is able to beat anyone’. That is at the heart of what makes Rugby’s Greatest Championship so special and so beloved, its knack of creating round after round of tantalizing matchups that simply defy prediction. In a tournament with little regard for the form book, things really heated up as Round Two kicked the 2022 Six Nations into an entirely different gear.

France 30 Ireland 24 (Stade de France)

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Billed as the: potential game of the tournament:, France against Ireland did not disappoint. Pundits were in the habit of billing the clash of the two most fancied sides as a contrast in styles, France’s flair and champagne-style contrasting with Ireland’s predictably efficient means of game management, but to characterize either side in such a way is to do them a disservice. France are far more than a team built on wizz-bang fireworks, while Ireland have excelled in attack over the past year or so. Their ability to play the ball through the hands of some increasingly well-rounded forwards has become a particularly notable feather in the Irish cap.

There were times, admittedly, when France seemed to be performing feats which only they seem to have the nerve to pull off. France’s first try was genuinely exceptional, Romain Ntamack’s ridiculous offload inside seemingly sucking in around five Irish players as the gap opened up for Dupont to scurry home. Mesmeric again from: perhaps the best ten around:.

The fact that France nearly ended up throwing the game away by allowing Ireland to within a point of them will be somewhat concerning, but they will be conversely buoyed by their ability to close out a game in which momentum was in danger of swinging out of their favor. France look steely and determined, and if they can best an unpredictable Scottish side on the 26:th:, few would doubt their credentials for the slam:. As for Ireland, a decision not to kick for the corner in search of the full seven points may haunt them come the tournament’s end.

Wales 20 Scotland 17 (Millennium Stadium)

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This really did have the air of inevitability around it, didn’t it? I’ve written before that: I’ll believe Scotland’s 2022 Six Nations triumph when I see it:, a cynicism borne out of my inherent understanding (my dad is himself a self-effacing Scot) that there is something in the Scottish rugby psyche that seems to be preventing them from reaching their full potential. What could be more Scottish than to beat England at Murrayfield only to go to Cardiff and throw it away against a depleted Welsh side? If I’d been supporting the boys in blue and tartan, I’d have thrown all manner of items at my television at that performance.

What’s so frustrating from a Scottish perspective about the result is that the game was theirs to lose as much as it was Wales’ to win. Home advantage aside, Scotland were boasting a near-full complement of players, a team that had shown grit and grunt as well as flair and finesse against their Auld enemy just a week before. Whatever magic had been present all but dissipated under the lights of the Millennium Stadium, Scotland’s fluid attack turning slow, stodgy and utterly predictable. Wales were all over the place against Ireland a week previously. Scotland should have put them to the sword.

If Scotland deserve some degree of derision, the Welsh should be praised immeasurably. Wales’s line-up was in no way poor, a back three of Rees-Zammit, Liam William and Alex Cuthbert providing a nice blend of speed and dependability, but few could kid themselves into thinking this was the side Wayne Pivac truly wanted: at his disposal. On paper, the Dragons were at a severe disadvantage, but they deserve enormous, enormous credit for riding the wave of home crowd support and closing out a titanic Six Nations win against the odds. Huge congratulations, too, should go to consummate professional Dan Biggar, a man approaching 100 Wales caps once again defying critics to prove his value as one of Wales’s ultimate big-game players.

Italy 0 England 33 (Twickenham)

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There are just some games you just can not win. So it was not for Italy, but for England, who went to Rome knowing that most neutrals were hoping that the senior Italian side could match the exploits of the U20s in overturning the Red Roses and causing one of the greatest upsets in Six Nations history. For England, losing would delight the naysayers, whereas winning would inevitably be seen as a routine result anyway. Needless to say, England’s eventual 33-0 victory was hardly met with rapturous acclaim.

The muted response was somewhat justified. Despite not conceding a single point to the Italians, the first time they had achieved the feat in the history of the tournament, few were impressed by England’s scrappy win in Rome. Their potential quality in attack was evident, but England struggled to really get things flowing in a team that is still very much in transition as they integrate players like Harry Randall, Max Malins and of course Marcus Smith into their backline.

Speaking of Smith, I personally thought the Harlequins ten was exceptional. Occasionally he was guilty of trying too much, sometimes becoming isolated as a result of somewhat playing his own game, but at times it seemed as though he was the only man on the field, always in possession and in the action zones looking to make something happen. The papers will talk a lot about Smith and his potential for future greatness, but we must be careful. Give Smith time, allow him to be himself, and do not compare him to anyone or anything that he is not. Allow him to be his own person and his own pla:yer. The pressure of international rugby is enough as it is:.

Italy, meanwhile, remain Italy. Mistake after needless mistake caused them to haemorrhage territory and points, the obvious weight and skill disparities in the pack giving the Azzurri a huge disadvantage as England destroyed them at the ruck and at the breakdown. For all their good work in attack, the same old story emerged: all blood and thunder, but no killer instinct. The wait for a Six Nations win gets longer and longer.

Six Nations Ntamack and Dupont:

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