The Six Nations 2015: A recap
The Six Nations has finished and for the third time in six years, Ireland were crowned champions. The tournament grew in popularity this year, with many people tuning in to watch at least one of the matches every weekend. One of the main reasons for the growth in popularity was the decision by a number of bookmakers to offer fantastic price boosts throughout the tournament, which only added to the hype and the tension throughout a dramatic series of games. We take a brief look at the performances of the three sides – England, Wales and Ireland – who all went into the last day with the opportunity of winning the title.
Stuart Lancaster’s side gave a good account of themselves throughout the tournament on the whole, but they just didn’t do enough defensively to justify winning the Six Nations. Especially in the matches against Ireland, France and even Italy, some of their decisions in defence were incredibly poor and they conceded an average of 20 points per game in the five matches. However, there were many positives to take out of the tournament for England, such as the emergence of Jonathan Joseph and the attacking prowess that they showed throughout the campaign will convince many that, should they sort out defensive errors, they could compete for World Cup glory in autumn. With a bit of luck and the likes of Owen Farrell, Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt to return from various injuries, England could certainly be in with a chance of winning the trophy on home soil.
The Welsh will feel aggrieved not to win the tournament after a poor second half against England ultimately cost them the Grand Slam. Wales failed to register a single point in the second half of their opening game against Lancaster’s side but they improved throughout the tournament and earned away scalps over Scotland and France, before ending Ireland’s record run of 10 consecutive victories. Their mammoth 61-20 victory over Italy was phenomenal and their second half performance was one of the greatest performances by a team in Six Nations history. However, it wasn’t to be for Warren Gatland’s side as they fell short and cruelly finished third in the standings. Wales will be quietly confident ahead of the World Cup and with players like George North, Alun Wyn Jones and Leigh Halfpenny, they could sneak into the knockout stages despite a tough pool including both England and Australia.
Ireland were deserved winners after playing the best rugby on both attack and defence throughout the five Six Nations matches. They were formidable in possession and, with the boot of Jonny Sexton, played the territorial game exceptionally well. They convincingly beat England and their only defeat – a 23-16 loss to Wales – was against an extremely well organised defence that withstood 30 intense phases of play at one point in the game. Their captain Paul O’Connell was instrumental too, and was always willing to take the ball on and get over the advantage line. This Ireland side is a very good team and they are likely to go far in this year’s World Cup, and they will be fairly confident of at least reaching the semi-finals based on current form.