It’s time for our wrap of who has their name in lights and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
They’re on fire!!
Scotland: Hats off to Vern Cotter and his team following an outstanding display at Murrayfield, and Scotland’s first win on the opening day of the championship since 2006. Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray were both brilliant, as they have been all season, and the execution of the lineout move for Alex Dunbar’s try was quite something too. Sure it got a little rocky when Ireland came back as they always would, but Scotland held their nerve.
England’s bench: A scrappy performance was bailed out by the work of Jack Nowell, James Haskell, Danny Care and of course Ben Te’o, whose try flipped the score in England’s favour late on at Twickenham to ensure victory over France. How many start in Cardiff? Put it this way, England are unlikely to be as poor as we saw in Round One over the course of the tournament.
Louis Picamoles: Just gargantuan for France off the base of the scrum and in the loose at Twickenham, clocking up 122 metres in a performance that served as a reminder that Picamoles is one of the best around at number eight. Moving to the Premiership and subsequently improving his fitness has turned him into Godzilla with endurance.
Sam Warburton: The best player on the park for Wales in Rome in a performance eerily reminiscent of when Chris Robshaw first played for England after giving up his country’s captaincy. Warburton was a top carrier for Wales and prominent at the lineout, reminding those quick to slight him how good he really is.
England Womens’ comeback: 13-0 down at the break against France, Sarah Hunter’s England then turned it on to overturn that deficit for a 26-13 win over last season’s champions that seems likely to have a major say in the outcome this time around.
Blitzbokke: Three titles out of four in this series for South Africa and they look red hot, although it seems odd that their only final defeat came on home soil in Cape Town. Seabelo Senatla blew everyone away in Sydney and he will be sorely missed as he returns to Super Rugby with the Stormers.
Canada Women’s Sevens: Much-needed title win for Canada in Sydney as they climb up the table, doing well to knock out favoured hosts Australia in the semi-finals before getting the better of the USA in the final. Jen Kish as ever was a force to be reckoned with.
This guy: Try all day long. Excellent effort.
Winter is coming
France: One try from ten line breaks? Totally unacceptable. The efforts of Picamoles, Scott Spedding and Baptiste Serin deserved so much more but France at the moment are beset with finishing problems, just as Guy Novès pointed out before the tournament. Until the tries start coming, their progress will feel a little false.
Ireland’s start: The poorest first half under Schmidt? Ireland never got out of the gate at Murrayfield to the extent that they went into half-time down 21-8. The comeback was impressive but that requires substantial exertion, mental and physical, and Laidlaw’s late penalties will have stung. There will be no Grand Slam this year for them.
Italy: Flattered to deceive with that start in Rome, when the Azzurri looked in their best shape for some time thanks to the go-forward of Sergio Parisse and Maxime Mbanda’s energy. Then the wheels came tumbling off. This Six Nations looks set to be a long run based on that second 40 minutes.
Jean-Marc Doussain: France have a penalty with time to find touch, from where they can either go for a game-tying drop goal or the win with a try. The clock is running, and what does Doussain do? He misses touch. Absolutely criminal.