Talking points from week 2 of the Six Nations
The strong winds and rain of Storm Ciara may have caused havoc on-and-off the pitch during last weekend’s Six Nations fixtures, but there were no shortage of talking points across the three games. With a week off coming up and the next round of fixtures due to be played on the weekend of Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd February, Six Nations betting odds haven’t changed and England are still the favourites for the Championship. If you missed the action, read on to find the key takeaways from last weekend.
1.England regain Calcutta Cup
England bounced back from a disappointing result against France with victory against Scotland – but it was by no means a stellar performance, and certainly no patch on the thrilling 38-38 draw the two played out last year. Conditions were brutal, causing disruptions to a game that felt more like 80 hours, than minutes. There were errors aplenty from both sides, with Scotland losing five line-outs and England’s captain Owen Farrell missing three penalties. It proved to be a low scoring game, with Ellis Genge’s try 10 minutes from time, the only one of the match. A losing bonus point was a mere consolation for Gregor Townsend’s side, while for Eddie Jones, the Championship dream stays alive.
2.Can France do it on the road?
The table looks good for this new-look France side, who under head coach Fabien Galthié have played two and won two, picking up a bonus point along the way. Both victories came at the Stade de France and it’s the first time since 2016 that Les Bleus have won their opening two fixtures. The next big test comes away to Wales, who have won one and lost one of their first two matches. Excluding victories away to Scotland and Italy that so often prop up the table, France have not won on the road since 2011, when they beat Ireland at the Aviva Stadium. Wayne Pivac’s side will be looking to recover from their latest defeat and they will certainly be tested by a young but competent French side.
3.Ireland revitalised under Andy Farrell
2019 was a year to forget for Ireland, whose performances became turgid under former head coach Joe Schmidt. A third-place finish at the Six Nations was followed by a disappointing exit at the Rugby World Cup, with the team dropping in the world rankings from first to fifth. But a new coach brings new ideas and under Farrell, Ireland already look back to their best. An inspired performance last weekend saw them overcome the current Grand Slam Champions Wales, 24-14 to sit second in the table with two wins from their opening two fixtures. Following the latest victory in Dublin, captain Johnny Sexton said: “We are trying to look forward, we’re trying to draw a line under last year and 2018. We are trying to develop something new and do things slightly differently.”
4.Scotland in disarray behind the scenes?
The drama off-the-pitch between head coach Townsend and Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell will be on everyone’s lips in the downtime before the next match on February 22nd. In a nutshell, Russell thinks the head coach is too controlling, unwilling to let players in the squad have a voice and says that he “doesn’t have a personal relationship” with Townsend. The two have been at loggerheads for some time and it’s recently escalated, with the fly-half being omitted from the squad and missing from training – following an incident involving alcohol at the team hotel. Townsend has put all the onus on the player, stating: “The door will be open to any player with the required level of ability. It’s been made clear that Finn could be a part of that future.”