The final game of this year's tournament concludes what has been one of the best six nations competition that I think I’ve witnessed. If at the start you’d have said Wales would win the Championship and England would come fifth, I think most seasoned rugby fans would have said you’d lost your mind, but that’s what happened. Along the way, we were treated to some amazing rugby and some unexpected results. To quote a friend who is relatively new to the sport as a spectator
“Wow, fantastic Championship. Even for the casual fan this Championship had it all”.
I must agree it was very special and huge congratulations to Wales who in the end were deserved winners.
Here’s the final table: https://www.sixnationsrugby.com/table/
France vs Scotland – 23-27 Win to Scotland
With so much on the line for both teams ( France needed to win by 21 points to take the championship, whilst Scotland needed to win by 5 posts to climb to second in the table and secure their best position in the championship since the 1990s) this game was always going to be something special, and it was. It was a game of massive impacts, glimpses of brilliance, teak-tough defences, and aggressive power rugby. Both teams gave their all.
Van der Merwe opened the scoring with a try for Scotland in the 15th minute. A bruising first half during which Scotland gave away two many penalties ended with France 13-10 in the lead and Stuart Hogg the Scottish captain sin-binned (ten-minute temporary sending-off) following a yellow card.
The second half was conducted at breakneck speed. Both teams gave it their all and after 60 minutes it was 18 points apiece. Then following a passage of play that can be described as "Galic magic," France went ahead. Damian Penaud, their wing, finishing a move that had begun at the french 20-meter line with a chip, chase and try. When Finn Russell was red-carded for dangerous use of his arm it looked like the game was over for Scotland and that once more after a gallant effort Scotland would lose. How wrong we were!
Scotland spurned multiple chances to take a penalty kick to draw the game and France even though a twenty-one point win was never likely to happen, kept on trying to play. This, when aligned with the fact that they were giving away too many penalties, proved to be France's downfall.
Your heart has to go out to the French. In the heat of battle, one player suffers a rush of blood to the head, he makes a mistake and the game is lost. This time it was Brice Dulin, who at full-back had been one of Frances best players who made the mistake. We were in overtime, Scotland were attacking, they were deep inside the French twenty-yard line when they turned over the ball. Dulin had the ball, all he had to do was kick it into touch and the game would have been theirs, instead, he tried to run with the ball, and gave away a penalty. It was from this penalty that Scotland fashioned an unlikely winning try.
Now, to my two players of the tournament for each team and my pick of player of the tournament in the order they finished:
Wales – Alun Wyn-Jones & Louis Rees-Zammit
France – Antoine Dupont & Matthieu Jalibert
Ireland – Tadhg Beirne & Johnny Sexton
Scotland – Stuart Hogg & Hamish Watson
England – Maro Itoje & Anthony Watson
Italy – Stephen Varney & Paolo Garbisi
My player of the tournament is:
Louis Rees-Zammit – at only twenty years old he played with great maturity and his ability to create something out of nothing combined with electric pace set him apart.