If you would like to receive more of news and insights from our team sign up here.
Rugby fans last weekend were treated to a Six Nations opener which was a breathtaking as it was questioning. After Ireland’s 30-22 win over Wales and England’s, regrettably predictable, 38-18 win over Scotland; who would have guessed that Sunday would serve up the closest match of the weekend with Italy resisting sustained pressure to defeat France 23-18.
It is true that France went into the match with a few jitters, having been beaten in Italy two years ago, but the pre-tournament favourites were supposedly the team on form having seen off Australia, Argentina and Samoa in the Autumn Internationals. But the Italian team today is a very different one to that of a few years ago, showing sustained resilience and character which held firm against a battering from the French in the dying minutes. Two years ago it was said that France lost the match, this time it was the Italians who won it.
England are now firm favourites although they will have to up their game when they play Ireland next weekend. The score line could have been higher were it not for Scotland’s resilience and refusal to give up in the face of sustained pressure. Wales too refused to give up and after a first half which all went Ireland’s way the Welsh dragon suddenly roared into life, giving hope that all is not lost in Welsh Rugby after a disappointing autumn season.
After such a high scoring opener, the fans will be eagerly awaiting round two this coming weekend. With fitness, tactics and the standard of play all rising year on year, the team winning out is likely to succeed as much by the strength of character and determination within the squad as in the play itself. Winning or losing, the coaches and team managers now have to focus players’ minds on the task ahead and from the fans’ point of view, hopefully that will result in another weekend in which rugby is the winner.