Five takeaways from the Six Nations weekend
Following an absorbing Round Two of the Six Nations that produced wins for England, Wales and France, here’s five takeaways from the weekend.
A very rugby-like debate over whether the try should have stood started almost immediately – was it a legitimate dive for the line or an illegal leap over the tackle? But, ignoring the dispute over its legality, Jonny May’s extraordinary acrobatics must be appreciated as one the great touchdowns seen at Twickenham. If more evidence was needed, then it confirmed May as one of the game’s deadliest ever finishers.
As Scotland were left to mourn the likelihood of another false dawn as their glorious Calcutta Cup triumph was followed by defeat to Wales at Murrayfield, Wayne Pivac’s men applauded a superb two-try salvo from emerging talent Louis Rees-Zammit. Still only 20, the predatory Gloucester wing has now struck four times in six Tests and is causing justifiable levels of excitement amongst Welsh fans. Lions coach Warren Gatland will be watching his progress closely.
Agony for Willis
Rugby’s authorities have been urged to re-examine the crocodile roll, the controversial but legal method used by Italy flanker Sebastian Negri to remove Jack Willis from the ruck at Twickenham. Willis’ knee buckled horrifically under the challenge and the rising England star is now facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The enforcement of laws should improve safety at the breakdown, but this technique remains a source of tension in the game.
I will give everything I can to my rehab to come back a better and stronger player. Thank you so much for all the messages and support I’ve received it really is appreciated.
I will be back 👊🏼💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/3ao0QU6cJ6
— Jack Willis (@jackswillis7) February 15, 2021
Six to five
Playing against the most experienced England team of all-time, there was much to applaud about a spirited Italy, who scored their most points in the fixture since 2008. Yet the 80-1 underdogs never went remotely close to causing an upset as they fell to a 29th successive Six Nations defeat. There have been calls for relegation to be introduced but, with Georgia unlikely to provide stiffer opposition, is it time for the Championship to revert to five sides? Take Italy out and it becomes hard-fought competition contested by well-matched teams. It is hard to see how the Azzurri getting thrashed week in, week out aids their development.
France march on
France showing resilience to guts out a 15-13 victory in Dublin will send shivers down the spines of their title rivals. Inspired by the brilliance of diminutive general Antoine Dupont, they bristle with attacking options, but against Ireland it was their solid foundations that swept them to top of the table. The performance lacked the fireworks of recent wins, but the ability to grind out an ugly result is crucial to any team with aspirations of snatching England’s crown.