World's biggest crowds flock to the 123rd Six Nations Championship

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The 123rd edition of rugby union's Six Nations, which begins on Saturday, is set to be watched by the highest average attendance per match of any tournament in world sport.

Over the next seven weeks the northern hemisphere showpiece, which features England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy, will see the cream of European rugby meet across five rounds, culminating in the final set of games on 18 March.

Scotland play Ireland in the tournament's opening match in Edinburgh at 14:25 GMT, before defending champions England host France at Twickenham at 16:50 GMT, while Wales play Italy at 14:00 on Sunday in Rome.

England, who won all of their matches in last season's tournaments, start as the bookies' favourites, with Ireland second favourites. If England win the tournament it would be a record 28th win.

Six Nations: World-beating crowds to flock to 123rd edition of rugby showpiece

BBC Sport
3 Feebruary 2017

The 123rd edition of rugby union's Six Nations, which begins on Saturday, is set to be watched by the highest average attendance per match of any tournament in world sport.

Over the next seven weeks the northern hemisphere showpiece, which features England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy, will see the cream of European rugby meet across five rounds, culminating in the final set of games on 18 March.

Scotland play Ireland in the tournament's opening match in Edinburgh at 14:25 GMT, before defending champions England host France at Twickenham at 16:50 GMT, while Wales play Italy at 14:00 on Sunday in Rome.

Last year's tournament attracted an average 72,000 fans a game, leading sport's global standings above American football's NFL in second and the Fifa World Cup in third - according to statistics published by European football body Uefa.

Best-attended sports events

Event............................................A verage attendance per match
Six Nations..........................................7 2,000
NFL (American football).............................64,800
Fifa World Cup (football)............................53,592
Rugby World Cup (rugby union).......
Euro 2012 (football)....................................46,4 81

More than a million people in total watched last season's 15 matches, with 81,916 fans packing in to see England beat Wales 25-21 (external - login to view) at Twickenham in London in the best-attended game.

England secured the 2016 title with a perfect record of five wins from their five games, earning them the Grand Slam.

They are the bookies' favourites to win again but an Ireland team that claimed a famous win over world champions New Zealand in Chicago in November (external - login to view) are serious contenders to regain the title they won in 2014 and 2015.

81,916 fans packed into Twickenham in London to see England beat Wales 25-21 in last year's championship

Wales are without head coach Warren Gatland - who has stepped away from his role for a year to coach the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in the summer - but interim replacement Rob Howley leads a team that includes the likes of barnstorming wing George North.

Scotland come into the tournament buoyed by the domestic success of a Glasgow Warriors side currently fourth in the Pro12 and into the last eight of the top-tier European Champions Cup.

France and Italy are both under relatively new leadership, with Guy Noves and Conor O'Shea taking over in January and June 2016 respectively, but the former showed signs of their old form in an improved showing in the autumn Tests, while O'Shea was the mastermind behind Harlequins' 2012 Premiership title.

One of the key factors in deciding the destination of the title may be the strength in depth of each squad.

High-profile stars such as Ireland's Johnny Sexton, Wales' Taulupe Faletau and England's Billy Vunipola will miss the start of the tournament through injury, and the physicality of the modern game means more are sure to join them on the sidelines.

For the first time bonus points will be on offer.

In addition to the four points to be gained for a win, teams can pick up a further point for scoring four or more tries or by losing by seven points or less.

Another change is that referees have been told to pay extra attention to high tackles, with more severe penalties to be handed down to players who make contact with an opponent's head, whether accidentally or recklessly.

While the chance to clinch this season's title will spur on supporters, the tournament will also be a chance to renew age-old rivalries and add another chapter to the tournament's long history of famous results.

And in a competition that saw England captain Bill Beaumont carried shoulder-high from the pitch in 1980, David Sole's slow walk onto the Murrayfield turf in 1990, Scott Gibbs carving through the England defence at Wembley in 1999 or a fresh-faced Brian O'Driscoll's hat-trick against France in 2000, there is every prospect of new heroes being made.

Opening weekend fixtures

Saturday 4 February

Scotland v Ireland 14:25 GMT (at Murrayfield, Edinburgh)

Saturday 4 February

England v France 16:50 GMT (at Twickenham, London)

Sunday 5 February
Italy v Wales 14:00 GMT (at Stadio Olimpico, Rome)

Six Nations: World-beating crowds to flock to 123rd edition of rugby showpiece - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 4th, 2017 at 05:08 AM..
There may be a shock on the cards: Scotland are leading second-favourites Ireland 21-15 in the second half at Murrayfield in the opening match:


This try from Jackson has put Ireland 22-21 in front:

Just five minutes or so to go. What drama.


Result: Scotland 27-22 Ireland

Stuart Hogg became Scotland's highest Six Nations try-scorer with his brace of tries

Two last-gasp penalties see Scotland upset second-favourites Ireland to win 27-22 in the last few minutes!

Great sporting drama as the underdogs win. In just the first match, the Six Nations shows why vast crowds flock to watch it.
I am a great admirer of Six Nations. They should get together a team of their own and compete.
Curious Cdn
World's biggest crowds flock to the 123rd Six Nations Championship

Nonsense! The World's biggest crowds turned out to watch Trump being sworn in.
Quote: Originally Posted by davesmomView Post

I am a great admirer of Six Nations. They should get together a team of their own and compete.

Six Nations Dream Team.

Yesterday's results:

Scotland 27-22 Ireland

Scotland: Tries: Hogg 2, Dunbar Cons: Laidlaw 3 Pens: Laidlaw 2
Tries: Earls, Henderson, Jackson Cons: Jackson 2 Pen: Jackson

Stuart Hogg became Scotland's highest Six Nations try-scorer - on nine - with his brace of tries

Scotland survived a thrilling Ireland comeback at Murrayfield to record only their second opening-round victory since the Five Nations became the Six Nations in 2000.

The hosts enjoyed a stunning start despite Ireland's scrum dominance, full-back Stuart Hogg crossing twice.

Keith Earls scored in the corner but Alex Dunbar's try from a clever line-out move put the Scots 21-5 up.

Tries from Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson put Ireland 22-21 ahead before Greig Laidlaw's two late penalties.

It was a remarkable conclusion to a scintillating opening match of this year's Championship, with Ireland - who took a losing bonus point - having 70% of the possession in the second half.

But, despite scoring 17 unanswered points either side of the interval, Irish hopes of a third title in four years suffered a major blow.

They must now lift themselves for next Saturday's trip to face Italy in Rome, while Scotland travel to play France the following day in buoyant mood.

2017 Six Nations: scotland 27-22 Ireland - BBC Sport (external - login to view)

England 19-16 France

England: Try: Te'o Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 3, Daly
Try: Slimani Con: Lopez Pens: Lopez 3

Slimani's try put France back in the lead but there was a sting in the tail awaiting the visitors

Defending champions England overcame a disjointed first half and a resurgent France to come from behind and get their Six Nations defence off to a winning start by securing a national record 15th victory in a row.

Eddie Jones' men were fortunate to be level 9-9 at half-time and were four points down with time running out after a fine try from Rabah Slimani.

But, kept in touch by Owen Farrell's three penalties and one from Elliot Daly, their strength off the bench gradually seized control of a match that had been slipping away.

In addition to his 11 points from the boot, Farrell was a defensive rock and attacking threat in midfield, before switching to fly-half as England finished strongly

New Zealand-born Ben Te'o goes over the line to score England's try on his Six Nations debut

2012: The last time England lost at fortress Twickenham, which was against Wales in the Six Nations

15: A national record number of consecutive matches England have now won

With their forwards at last making inroads with ball in hand and a tiring defence stretched, Ben Te'o's try finally brought Twickenham to full voice.

The win saw the team pass the record of 14 straight victories set by Sir Clive Woodward's men in the run-up to their 2003 World Cup win, and means they are only three wins away from equalling the all-time record set by world champions New Zealand last year.

It also extended France's dismal run in this fixture to six successive defeats on the road, yet the men in blue were transformed from the stodgy outfit of recent memory, and England will be hugely relieved to have found a way through.

Six Nations: England beat France 19-16 to start title defence with win - BBC Sport (external - login to view)


Italy vs Wales (14:00 GMT, Stadio Olimpico, Rome)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 5th, 2017 at 06:31 AM..
Italy 7-33 Wales

Italy: Try: Gori Con: Canna
Wales: Tries: J Davies, L Williams, North Cons: Halfpenny 3 Pens: Halfpenny 4

Jonathan Davies scored Wales' first try as an improved second-half display saw them brush aside Italy in Rome

Wales scored three tries in the last 20 minutes as their Six Nations bid began with a hard-fought win in Rome.

Edoardo Gori's first-half try and Carlo Canna's conversion against Leigh Halfpenny's penalty gave the hosts a deserved 7-3 lead at the break.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked four penalties to bring Wales back from 7-0 down to lead

But Welsh pressure gave Halfpenny the chance to kick Wales ahead before the tries came.

Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams and George North crossed as Rob Howley's side built their lead.

Halfpenny finished with an 18-point haul from four penalties and successful conversions of all three tries.

Jonathan Davies celebrates after crossing the line to score Wales' first try of the afternoon in Rome

Six Nations 2017: Italy 7-33 Wales - BBC Sport (external - login to view)


This year sees the introduction of a new points system.

Instead of the old two points awarded for a win, winning teams are now awarded four points.

However, five points are awarded to a winning side if they score four or more tries in the match.

A losing team still gets zero points, except if they score four or more tries OR lose by seven points or fewer, in which case they get a point. If they score four or more tries AND lose by seven points or fewer, the team is awarded two points.

Two points are now awarded to each team when a match is drawn, rather than the previous one, and any of them that scores four tries or more in the process shall be awarded a further one point.

Read more at Six Nations to Trial Bonus Points in 2017 : RBS 6 Nations (external - login to view)

...............Played.....Won.....Drawn.....Lost.. ...For.....Against.....Points
Wales............1............1...........0....... ....0...........33...........7..............4
Scotland.......1............1...........0......... ..0...........27..........22..............4
England........1............1...........0......... ..0...........19..........16..............4
France.........1............0...........0......... ..1...........16..........19..............1
Ireland........1............0...........0......... ..1...........22..........27..............1
Italy............1............0...........0....... ....1............7..........33................0

Next matches:

Saturday 11th February

Italy vs Ireland (14.25 GMT)
Wales vs England (16.50 GMT)

Sunday 12th February

France vs Scotland (15.00 GMT)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 5th, 2017 at 10:45 AM..
This weekend's fixtures

Italy v Ireland,
Sat 11 Feb, 14:25 GMT - live on ITV, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
Wales v England,
Sat 11 Feb, 16:50 GMT - live on BBC One, connected TV and online
France v Scotland,
Sun 12 Feb, 15:00 GMT - live on BBC One, connected TV and online

Wales vs England: Cardiff stage set for the mother of all showdowns

6 Comments (external - login to view)

Every Six Nations fixture has a special feeling, but Wales against England is rugby at its brutal best Credit: Getty Images

Daniel Schofield (external - login to view)
10 February 2017
The Telegraph

No matter the generation, each England team which heads to Cardiff returns with a Welsh war story (external - login to view). Roger Uttley recalls many a match that descended into brutality; Gareth Chilcott was attacked on the street by a supporter; Nick Easter talks of fans “giving him the bird” on the bus on the way into the ground. All tell the story of rugby’s ultimate grudge match (external - login to view).

“When you go there you are facing an entire nation rather than just another team,” Jeff Probyn, the prop who was part of England’s 1991 and 1992 Grand Slam-winning teams, said. “As soon as you come into Wales, everything changes,” Martin Corry, the former England captain, said. “You really feel you are entering enemy territory. You get a special feeling playing all the teams in the Six Nations, but with Wales it is rivalry at its absolute height.”

There are social, cultural, political and historical undertones, but fundamentally it is a rivalry based on geographical proximity and national competitiveness. The ledger from 129 matches reads: England wins 60, Wales wins 57, draws 12.

It does not take much for the tinderbox to ignite as Uttley, who represented England as a lock and back-row forward in the 1970s and as a coach in the 1980s, attests. “In those days there was a very fine line between what’s acceptable violence and what’s not and those fixtures tended to bring out the unacceptable,” Uttley said. In one fixture, Mike Teague, who was designated to be England’s enforcer, was “dealt with”, according to Uttley, within 30 seconds of kick-off and was taken from the field unconscious.

That violence was not always confined to the pitch. After Wales had beaten England in 1989, the English team were returning from a post-match function to their team hotel when Gareth Chilcott, the prop, was attacked by a Welsh supporter. “He didn’t really do any damage, but you would have thought he could have picked a softer target,” Probyn said. “That was more or less par for the course: you would be spat at, sworn at and, on a rare occasion, assaulted.” Welcome to Cardiff indeed.

Probyn used to make a game of counting the projectiles launched at the team bus. It is a tradition that continues on Saturday. “It all starts on that bus journey to the stadium and trying to get through to the stadium,” said Nick Easter, who played in the 21-16 victory in Cardiff two years ago. “Their support really gets into you, giving you the bird, bashing the bus, throwing beer over the bus. It’s a gladiatorial arena to go and play rugby in. You think: ‘This is what it’s all about’.”

In days gone by this was in many ways the only game that mattered for the Welsh. After losing 49-6 to New Zealand in the 1987 World Cup finals, Welsh team manager Clive Rowlands was asked where the team would go next. “Back to beating England every year.”

Rowlands says the comment was meant in jest, but 12 years later the Stereophonics released a song entitled As long as we beat the English (we don’t care) which betrayed a grain of truth behind his sentiment. “As a child it was always England v Wales when you played matches,” Rowlands said. “And Wales always won.” Rowlands would make his debut as Wales captain against England in 1963 in the midst of the coldest winter on record. It was so bitter that the teams were kept in the changing rooms while the national anthems were played. England won 13-6 but that was the last match they would win in the fixture for another 11 years and in Cardiff for 28 years. These were the glory days for Wales under Rowlands first as a player and then as a coach.

It was also during this period that Welsh nationalism started gaining in strength with Plaid Cymru returning its first MP in 1967. Frequently this was entwined with anti-English resentment as memorably expressed by Wales captain Phil Bennett before a match against England in 1977.

“Look what these b------s have done to Wales,” Bennett said. “They’ve taken our coal, our water, our steel. They buy our homes and live in them for a fortnight every year. What have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We’ve been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English – and that’s who you are playing this afternoon.”

That sentiment only increased in the 1980s as the Conservative government began closing the coal pits. The bubble that today’s professional players live in did not exist 30 years ago. Richard Moriarty, who would captain Wales in the 1987 World Cup, would work on a construction site up until the day before a game. There was no escaping what was at stake against England.

“You knew what it meant to everybody,” Moriarty said. “It was more than just a rugby match.” The feeling remained through to the professional era. Martyn Williams’s first appearance against England in 1998 ended in a 60-26 defeat. “I didn’t leave the house for three days,” Williams, who won 100 caps for Wales, said. “I felt I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. You grow up with England seen as looking down upon us. Being a nation of three million people there are not many things we can compete against England in but rugby being our national sport is our platform to do that. It just means the defeats sting that bit more and the wins taste that bit sweeter.”

Williams would go on to play in the 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam-winning sides, the first since the 1970s. Those triumphs helped to eliminate a large degree of “as long as we beat the English” sentiment – among the players at least. “You understand how big it is to beat England but you are in the wrong profession if that’s all that matters to you,” Williams said. “I wanted to beat France and Ireland just as badly. A lot of the public perhaps would frown upon that but when you are playing your only focus is on the next game. It has only been since I have retired it has really hit home how much it means to people that we win this fixture.”

That the match remains just as febrile owes more to the fans than the players. Even if the suppression of the Welsh language and industrial disputes of the past are all but distant memories for the majority of supporters, that legacy lives on in the stereotype of Eddie Jones’s team embodying English public school arrogance and entitlement. The noise at the Principality Stadium for England’s visit is unlike any other.

Richard Moriarty prepares for a lineout against England in the quarter-final of the inaugural World Cup in 1987 Credit: Colorsport/REX

“Ideally you want the crowd on your side, but the next best thing is to have a very hostile crowd against you because it focuses the mind brilliantly,” Corry said. “The best thing you can do is to silence them, which we have done at times. There have been other times where we have failed to do that and when the crowd smells blood they are like sharks.”

There is still room for what Probyn terms as “old-fashioned shenanigans” such as the 2015 tunnel stand-off where England initially refused to take to the field. “Graham Rowntree got a steer, a bit of inside information they were going to make us wait out on the pitch,” Easter said. “So we just demanded from the referee that they meet us in the tunnel, and that we weren’t going to wait out on the pitch. The referee had to abide by that. Those little mind games didn’t work on that occasion.”

You trust Jones knew what he was doing when the England head coach started playing mind games of his own with regards to the Principality Stadium roof and making a pointed reference to Wales as a principality rather a country in his press conference on Thursday. The flames of a rugby rivalry dating back 136 years have rarely needed any extra fanning.

Wales vs England: Cardiff stage set for the mother of all showdowns (external - login to view)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 11th, 2017 at 05:11 AM..
Result: Italy 10-63 Ireland

Ireland become the first team to receive a four-try bonus point after they easily beat Italy in Rome.

It is also the first time since England in 1914 that a team has had two hat-trick scorers in a Five or Six Nations game - one for CJ Stander and one for Craig Gil.
Six Nations 2017: Ireland score nine tries in win over Italy

Italy 10-63 Ireland

BBC Sport
11 February 2017

Italy: Try: Penalty Try Con: Canna Pen: Canna
Tries: Stander 3, Earls 2, Gilroy 3, Ringrose Cons: Jackson 9

Hat-tricks from CJ Stander and Craig Gilroy helped Ireland regroup from their Scotland defeat (external - login to view) to earn a nine-try Six Nations win over Italy in Rome.

Scrum domination helped the Irish take immediate control with the bonus point secured by the 35th minute as Stander and Keith Earls both notched two tries.

Italy scored a first-half penalty try but for the most part were outclassed.

After Stander completed his hat-trick on 46, replacement Gilroy repeated the feat with Garry Ringrose also scoring.

South African-born Stander's third try meant he became the first Ireland player to score a Six Nations hat-trick since Brian O'Driscoll achieved the feat against Scotland in 2002.

Ulster wing Gilroy then got in on the hat-trick act as he notched his three scores in an 11-minute period in the closing stages at the Stadio Olimpico.

Ireland's victory was their biggest ever Six Nations win as the margin exceeded the 60-13 win over the Azzurri in 2000.

Joe Schmidt's side achieved the victory despite being without skipper Rory Best (external - login to view)who had to be replaced by debutant Niall Scannell because of a stomach upset.

Keith Earls became only the third Ireland player to score tries in four successive internationals

Six Nations: Italy 10-63 Ireland - BBC Sport (external - login to view)

England's late winning try breaks Welsh hearts and secures England's 16th successive victory...

England showed formidable resolve to edge Wales in bruising encounter that eclipsed pre-match mind games

Paul Hayward (external - login to view) Chief Sports Writer, Principality Stadium
11 February 2017
The Telegraph
5 Comments (external - login to view)

Wales 16-21 England

Wales: Try: L Williams Con: Halfpenny Pens: Halfpenny 3
Tries: Youngs, Daly Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 3

Elliot Daly's late try gave England a dramatic victory Credit: AFP

In the litany of build-up boosting terms were “cunning” and “shenanigans” and “shadows in the corner” – enough there, from Eddie Jones, for an espionage novel. But there was no mystery to England’s 16th consecutive win. They held their nerve, and struck when they needed to, while Wales cracked in a game of brutal tension (external - login to view).

Glad to report, this was a contest in no need of side-shows. It was a storming battle won by an England side way below their best of 2016 but still sufficiently resolute to fight their way through trouble. And in the losing corner, there was misery for a Wales team trying to evolve beyond ‘Warrenball,’ and one sharply motivated by Jones’ depiction of this stadium as a GCHQ of dirty tricks.

The rugby was the thing: the soul and the point of it all, as England clung to their unbeaten run in a ferocious final 10 minutes (external - login to view), when Wales led by a slender margin. England, to their credit, seized the try they needed not with sterile grinding but a fizzing counter-attack that sent Elliott Daly over in the corner with five minutes left. Wales will reflect that kicking the ball back to England’s strike runners so late in the game was calamitous. George Ford, Owen Farrell and Daly pounced on the error with sadistic accuracy.

Elliot Daly's late try at a loud and partisan Principality Stadium won the match for England after they trailed 16-11 at one point

Played-averagely-but-won is a hoary old idea. Yet England have done it twice now in this championship. For that they deserve the veneration of their followers. Now, home games against Italy and Scotland and a potentially epic clash in Dublin stand between Jones and a second successive Grand Slam – not to mention a world record 19th Test win.

The crowd played their part too. How could they not, with such an enthralling contest to feast on?

In an age when everyone feels emboldened to holler whatever comes into their head, making a big deal of booing would seem absurdly precious. So the jeering of the England team bus, God Save the Queen (before it started, but not during), and Farrell before his first kick at goal barely scores on the trolling register.

In Six Nations terms, though, it counts as an escalation. The self-proclaimed politest tournament in sport pulls off the miracle of being loaded with grudges and stereotypes but also mutually respectful during the bit that matters: game day, which floats along nicely on a river of ale.

Australian Jones’ multiple digs at Wales might have been seen as insulting had they not come with the England coach’s usual thin smile: his way of displaying comic intent while also playing mind games. This disarms the potential critic. “Daffodils and goats.” Was this condescension or comedy? Jones leaves his audience to work it out. But always – always – his deeper aim is to improve the chances of his team.

England were not the only ones employing psychological trickery. The disappearance of George North from the team sheet an hour before kick-off confirmed rumours that had swirled around this stadium. For days, all the signs were that North had not recovered from the dead leg he picked up against Italy. Yet here he was in the printed starting XV, until 60 minutes before the starting whistle (until the last possible moment, in other words), with Alex Cuthbert, who wore the No 11 shirt, initially nowhere to be seen. Cuthbert, it must be said, was a pale alternative to North. He lacked his pace and thrust and power.

England's Maro Itoje tries to bulldoze his way through the Welsh defence

Jones’ men managed to ignore the massed male voice choir, the Welsh regiment, the goal and the general lusty atmosphere to make a bright start, before fierce Welsh pressure at the end of the first half yielded less than the “country of three million people”, as Jones called them, would have liked.

In his 16 wins as England coach, Jones has faced many a tactical test, but already this Six Nations Championship has upped the ante on his game management. England were befuddled by French running and forward heft in last week’s first half at Twickenham, but Jones found a way through, chiefly through replacements. Ben Te’o, in particular, has been a revelation: a menace for tired opponents.

England's Elliot Daly celebrates scoring a try with team mates Credit: Reuters

A week after that narrow win at Twickenham (external - login to view), Jones returned to the dressing-room 13-8 down, and a vital team talk to make. His mantra has been for England to walk in like they own the place, to be assertive, and certainly not be “petrified” of any rival tribe, as he claimed his adopted country tended to be here in Cardiff. This diagnosis ignored the five-all score in Wales-England games here since the turn of the century. It also overlooked their 21-16 win on this turf two years ago.

“I will talk to a few blokes who have played there to figure out what the problem is and why the record is so horrendous – because it is horrendous,’ Jones had said. But in the event the only “blokes” he needed to focus on were the 15 whose unbeaten record was swinging in the wind. It was no surprise to see England come back out with renewed purpose, a bounce in their step, though their day soon turned torrid once again.

But it all came good when Jonathan Davies kicked an aimless clearance, and the ball found its way to Daly, who burned Cuthbert for pace to win the game for England.

In a cauldron like this, one aberration, followed by one bold response, can settle an outcome with savage clarity. Mind games have no part to play in those decisive passages. But the workings of the mind undoubtedly have their say. Between the ears, England are formidable.

Watch the match highlights:


England showed formidable resolve to edge Wales in bruising encounter that eclipsed pre-match mind games (external - login to view)


France vs Scotland (15:00 GMT; Stade de France)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 12th, 2017 at 07:53 AM..
Scotland fall short as France pull away late on

BBC Sport
12 February 2017

France 22-16 Scotland

France: Tries: Fickou Con: Lopez Pens: Lopez 5
Scotland: Tries: Hogg, Swinson Pens: Russell 2

Gael Fickou's converted try put France 13-5 ahead

Scotland's search for a first win in Paris since 1999 goes on after France bounced back from defeat at Twickenham with victory in a tense contest.

Stuart Hogg's 15th Test try gave the Scots an early lead but Gael Fickou's try put France 13-5 clear before two Finn Russell penalties made it 13-11.

Tim Swinson's try regained the lead for the injury-hit visitors before Camille Lopez's third penalty tied it at 16-16.

France got the better of Scotland to win their first match of the 123rd tournament

Remi Lamerat had a try ruled out before two late Lopez kicks sealed victory.

Scotland suffered a host of injuries, captain Greig Laidlaw forced off with an ankle injury and John Barclay, Barclay's own replacement John Hardie and Fraser Brown all departing with head knocks.

They will also rue two simple missed conversions, one from Laidlaw and one from Russell in front of the posts, after the ball flopped off the tee during his run-up.

Scotland must now re-group for the visit of Wales on 25 February, while France head to Dublin to face Ireland on the same day.

.............................Played...Won....Drawn ....Lost....For....Against....Bonus Pts....Pts
England......................2........2.........0. ..........0...........40........32..............0. ...............8
Ireland.......................2.......1.........0. ..........1...........85...........37............. .2................6
Wales.........................2.......1.........0. ..........1..........49..........28............... ..1................5
France........................2.......1.........0. ..........1..........38..........35............... ..1.................5
Scotland......................2.......1.........0. ..........1..........43..........44............... ..1...............5
Italy..........................2......0..........0 ..........2..........17..........96............... ..0.................0

Six Nations: France 22-16 Scotland - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
The Six Nations returns after last weekend's break.

Today's first result

Scotland 29-13 Wales

A spirited second-half performance at Murrayfield earned Scotland their first Six Nations win over Wales since 2007.

For all their superior physicality in the first half, Wales led by only 13-9 at the interval, Liam Williams rounding off a slick move for their sole try.

Scotland were dominant thereafter, with Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser crossing the line and stand-off Finn Russell earning 19 points with his kicking.

The Scots' success ended Wales's run of four consecutive wins in Edinburgh.

Tommy Seymour's try for Scotland came during a period of dominance for the hosts at the start of the second half

Six Nations 2017: Scotland 29-13 Wales - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Yesterday's other result:

Ireland 19-9 France

By Richard Petrie
BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium
25 February 2017

Ireland: Try: Murray Con: Sexton Pens: Sexton 2, Jackson Drop-goal: Sexton
Pens: Lopez 3

Robbie Henshaw got through a mountain of work

Ireland kept their hopes of a third Six Nations title in four years alive by recovering from an early deficit to beat France in a bruising encounter.

Two Camille Lopez penalties put France 6-0 up but Conor Murray's converted try edged Ireland into a one-point lead.

Johnny Sexton added two penalties and a drop goal in a keenly contested second half, with Lopez and replacement Paddy Jackson trading late penalties.

Sexton, back after injury, passed the 600-point mark in international rugby.

Ireland move a point ahead of Scotland at the top of the table, with England's game at home to Italy to come on Sunday.

Joe Schmidt's men, beaten in their first match in Scotland, have 10 points from their three matches and now face Wales away and England at home.

France left the Aviva Stadium empty-handed to remain on five points and they next host Italy before a final-day trip to Cardiff.

Ireland remain unbeaten at home in the Six Nations during the tenure of coach Schmidt, a run stretching back to 2014, and they will go into their next game in Cardiff on 10 March with confidence.

Ireland's David Toner wins a lineout at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin

France displayed glimpses of the much-heralded revival under their coach Guy Noves but showed signs of tiredness throughout the second half and their hopes of a first championship success since 2010 are now surely over.

Only once in the past 10 Six Nations meetings between these sides had the winning margin reached double digits, so Ireland will be happy to come away with a hard-fought win and deny their opponents a losing bonus point.

Remi Lamerat's try was ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on

Six Nations 2017: Ireland 19-9 France - BBC Sport (external - login to view)

Today's match:

England vs Italy (Twickenham; 15:00 GMT)
Today's result:

Invincible England under par against Italy yet still win by 21-point margin to extend winning streak

England 36-15 Italy

England: Tries: Cole, Care, Daly, Nowell (2), Te'o Con: Farrell 3
Italy: Tries: Venditti, Campagnaro Con: Allan Drop goal: Allan

Eddie Jones' side make it 17 wins on the bounce

England were given a huge scare by Italy before five second half tries saw them extend their winning run to 17 matches.

Italy had led 10-5 at half-time, a combination of an extraordinary tactic at the breakdown and the hosts' ineptitude threatening a huge upset.

But two quick tries after the break from Danny Care and Elliot Daly calmed nerves, and although Michele Campagnaro's bullocking try made it 17-15 with 20 minutes remaining, another from Ben Te'o and two from replacement Jack Nowell saved England's blushes.

Daly crossed for England's third try of the match

Those tries meant Eddie Jones' men also picked up their bonus point, which may prove critical in the final championship standings.

But this 10th successive Six Nations win felt anything but a celebration, Owen Farrell off form on the occasion of his 50th cap and Jones' replacements once again required to come to their coach's rescue.

Italy left points aplenty out on the field through missed kicks, and while a second consecutive Grand Slam remains a possibility for England, the visit of in-form Scotland in a fortnight's time now represents a serious threat.

Kyle Sinckler goes on the charge as England keep alive their Grand Slam hopes


...........Played....Won....Drawn....Lost....For.. ..Against....Bonus Pts....Points
England......3........3...........0...........0... ......76.........47..............1.............13
Ireland......3........2...........0............1.. .......104........46..............2.............10
Scotland.....3........2............0...........1.. .......72.........57..............1.............9
Wales........3........1............0...........2.. ........62.........57.............1.............5
France.......3........1............0...........2.. ........47.........54..............1.............5
Italy........3........0...........0............3.. ........32.........132.............0.............0

Six Nations 2017: England 36-15 Italy - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 26th, 2017 at 11:36 AM..
England not happy with Italy's tactics yesterday:

Six Nations 2017: Italy's tactics test England - and Eddie Jones' patience - to the limit

By Tom Fordyce, Chief sports writer
BBC Sport
26 February 2017

And so another typically one-sided England v Italy match, a 23rd win for white over blue in 23 matches, as predictable a contest as there is in international sport.

Or maybe not. The scoreboard at the end might have looked familiar, and so too the championship standings: England winners 36-15, back on top of the Six Nations table, Italy with a third defeat in three, Wooden Spoon being readied once again.

Very little else was, once Italy had released their version of chaos theory upon the world.

It was a simple idea. Do not commit anyone to the breakdown after the initial tackle. No ruck is therefore formed. The offside law is thus irrelevant, and you can stand anywhere you like - between opposition scrum-half and fly-half, between 10 and 12, maybe on both sides of the scrum-half while pulling faces, if you fancy it.

Simple, and not actually that novel. The Chiefs have done it in Super Rugby. It can happen in Sevens. Australia captain David Pocock tried something similar against Ireland last autumn, and nearly created a try from it.

England, however, were as ready for it as Don Bradman was for Bodyline, (external - login to view) or Scott Styris in 2008 when Kevin Pietersen swapped hands on his bat handle and switch-hit him for six. (external - login to view)

On the pitch they were first confused, then angry, and for a long period then neutered. In the stands it was more demonstrative yet. There are few sights in rugby as striking as Twickenham Man in full red-cheeked fury, and on Sunday his fury was both righteous and often misplaced.

Italy were not acting illegally. Coach Conor O'Shea had run the tactic past referee Romain Poite on Saturday, and not only been given the all-clear but a little bit of advice too: to be within the spirit of the laws as well as the wording, do not get within a metre of the nine.

Chaos is the science of surprises. England were surprised. Perhaps that was why O'Shea's opposite number Eddie Jones was still shaking afterwards.

"If you paid for a ticket you should ask for your money back," he said, eyes glinting, mouth spitting fire. "You haven't seen a game of rugby.

"If that's rugby then I'm going to retire. That's not rugby. You're looking to pass and all you can see is one of their players.

"I'm not critical of our side a bit because we didn't play rugby. We practised for a game of rugby all week and we didn't get it."

Jones compared it to cricketer Trevor Chappell's infamous underarm ball (external - login to view) to New Zealand's Brian McKechnie in 1981 that won a one-day international match for Australia but cost them much more.

If that was inaccurate, not only because Chappell's gambit had not been discussed with the umpire but also because O'Shea's strategy ultimately ended in defeat, it was also a little sleight-of-hand of Jones' own.

England had an awful first half, their kicking from hand inaccurate, their discipline poor, their energy levels on a par with those who had enjoyed a full Sunday roast before watching from their sofas.

Centre Owen Farrell, on the occasion of his 50th cap, had arguably his least impressive game for his country. Nine penalties were conceded in the first 40 minutes alone. Had Italy kicked their penalties, the half-time deficit for the hosts could have been much worse than 10-5.

Chaos, the science of surprises. Shouldn't England have prepared for it happening, Jones was asked in his news conference?

"Prepared not to play rugby? Yeah, you're right. I should have prepared to play ten-pin bowling.

"When the nine can't pass the ball and the 10 can't see it, you can't play rugby. They brilliantly executed that game, and they got what they wanted, which was a close loss.

"I don't want to be involved in a game like that. I'd rather pick up my stumps, put them in my kit-bag and go home."

Others remembered his defence coach Paul Gustard being asked about Pocock's move against Ireland before England faced the Wallabies a week later. His response: "We are aware of it, we saw it, and we will have a plan in place."

England did not have a plan for the first 40 minutes. When they did find a solution - exploit that lack of defensive cover by sending your scrum-half sniping, by sending runners up that unguarded middle - they took a hold of the game.

International sport is about being tested. It is about being tested, and it is about coming up with the answers.

Italy have gone for chaos before, when Nick Mallett picked flanker Mauro Bergamasco at scrum-half for the corresponding fixture in 2009. Chaos was what ensued, (external - login to view) although not of the sort Mallett had hoped for.

This time the idea came from defence coach Brendan Venter, the same maverick thinker who came up with the plan to drop-goal England out of their World Cup quarter-final against his native Springboks in 1999.

"We're not inventing anything," said O'Shea afterwards, visibly angry at Jones' response. "It's a tackle. If it's a tackle, there's no offside there. We just occupied space.

"If that is people's take after today, that is a very sad take. Just because we took people by surprise. What do you want, us to be normal? We can't be normal. We're Italy.

"Rugby is there to do things different, and challenge people's minds. And that's what we did today - we challenged people's minds."

Innovation to one, an insult to the other. If the contest on the pitch had been as relentlessly combative as the news conferences afterwards, no-one would have dared go to the bars to get in the mid-match pints, as plenty were doing during England's somnolent first half.

"[Jones] wanted 70. He wanted to 'take us to the cleaners,'" said O'Shea, referencing Jones' comments in advance of the game.

"Is that respect? I was delighted when they kicked to the posts. If you think we're going to lie down, you're wrong.

"I loved it. I loved it today. We had to give hope to people, that we weren't just here to make up the numbers. Today you could say, we had enough. We're going to fight."

Six Nations 2017: Italy's tactics test England - and Eddie Jones' patience - to the limit - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 27th, 2017 at 03:59 AM..
The result from Friday night:

Wales victory means England can win the tournament today

BBC Sport
20 March 2017

Wales 22-9 Ireland

Wales survived an Ireland fightback to claim a pressure-relieving win and hand England a chance to clinch the Six Nations title against Scotland.

Wing George North scored two tries as the hosts opened up a nine-point lead early in the second half in Cardiff.

Ireland, inspired by Johnny Sexton, almost turned the game on its head.

Wales repulsed waves of attacks before Jamie Roberts clinched the victory with a 78th-minute try after Taulupe Faletau's charge down.

The defeat handed a potentially fatal blow to Ireland's championship challenge with England able to secure the title if they beat the Scots at Twickenham on Saturday at 16:00 GMT.

Six Nations 2017: Wales 22-9 Ireland - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Bong matin?
Rampant England thrash Scotland to retain Six Nations title

The Sweet Chariot sends the Scots homeward tae think again
England equal world champions New Zealand's world record of 18 consecutive Test victories, which they hope to break against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday

England 61-21 Scotland

England: Tries: Joseph 3, Watson, B Vunipola, Care 2 Cons: Farrell 7 Pens: Farrell 4
Tries: Reid, Jones 2 Cons: Russell 3

At Twickenham (attendance: 82,100)

By Tom Fordyce
Chief sports writer at Twickenham
11 March 2017

Sam Launchbury celebrates one of seven England tries scored against the Scots

England retained their Six Nations title and equalled New Zealand's world record for consecutive Test wins with a seven-try demolition of sorry Scotland.

A hat-trick of tries for Jonathan Joseph, and one apiece for replacements Anthony Watson and Billy Vunipola and two for Danny Care, put the visitors to the sword at Twickenham as Owen Farrell kicked 26 points.

It was England's highest score in this oldest of international rugby fixtures and equalled their biggest winning margin against Scotland as the Calcutta Cup was retained with style and swagger.

It means England face Ireland in Dublin next weekend with consecutive Grand Slams, a Triple Crown and a world record of 19 Test wins in their sights.

It was a chastening afternoon for Scotland despite them scoring three converted tries, their hopes of a first Triple Crown since 1990 wrecked by a dismal first-half performance.

They lost both Stuart Hogg and his replacement Mark Bennett early and were forced to play the majority of the contest with scrum-half Ali Price on the wing, their winless run at Twickenham now stretching past 34 years.

The hosts hit top gear

England are Six Nations champions for the second successive year after demolishing Scotland at Twickenham

There has been much debate about England's form this Six Nations despite their long unbeaten run.

But in front of a celebrating capacity crowd they cut loose, running in three tries as they scored 30 points in a one-sided first half.

Four more tries and thirty-one more points followed in the second period as they established an unassailable lead atop the Six Nations table.

Never before have England scored more than 44 points against the Scots, and only once before won by the 40-point margin.

Two tries from Huw Jones were scant consolation for Scotland coach Vern Cotter, his team only offering any sort of threat when the match was gone.

Anthony Watson (centre) scored one of England's seven tries in the Six Nations encounter

The unstoppable Jonathan Joseph scored three of England's seven tries

Prince Harry presented the Calcutta Cup - which is given to the winners of England-Scotland clashes in the Six Nations - to winning England captain Dylan Hartley.

England win the Calcutta Cup for the ninth consecutive Six Nations championship

England will be presented with the Six Nations trophy in Dublin on Saturday where they hope to break New Zealand's world record of 19 consecutive Test wins

Six Nations 2017: England 61-21 Scotland - BBC Sport (external - login to view)

Yesterday's other result:

Italy 18-40 France

Italy: Tries: Parisse, Esposito Cons: Canna Pens: Canna (2)
France: Tries: Fickou, Vakatawa, Picamoles, Dulin Cons: Lopez (4) Pens: Lopez (4)

France ended their dismal Six Nations away form with a bonus-point win against Italy in Rome.

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse scored the quickest try of the 2017 tournament, but Gael Fickou's score helped the visitors lead 16-11 at the break.

Victor Vakatawa, Louis Picamoles and Brice Dulin also crossed, with Camille Lopez kicking 20 points, as France avoided a sixth straight away defeat.

But their slim title chances were ended by England's win over Scotland. (external - login to view)

France, who host Wales in Paris next Saturday, must now concentrate on finishing in the top three for the first time since 2011.

Six Nations 2017: Italy 18-40 France - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 12th, 2017 at 06:04 AM..
Ireland end England's Grand Slam bid and record-equalling winning run

BBC Sport
18th March 2017

Ireland 13-9 England

Ireland: Try: Henderson Con: Sexton Pens: Sexton 2
Pens: Farrell 3

Ireland's narrow victory in Dublin means they have denied England the Grand Slam and a world record 19th Test victory in succession - but England are still crowned Six Nations champions for the second successive year

Ireland wrecked England's Grand Slam dream and ended their world record-equalling run of victories with a dramatic win at a rejoicing Aviva Stadium.

The home side overwhelmed the Six Nations champions with their intensity and physicality, just as they had in Slam deciders here in 2011 and 2001.

Robbie Henshaw's feral intensity ensured Ireland were dominant in the first half

Iain Henderson scores the game's only try

In the process they also halted England's winning run at a record 18 Tests, leaving them level with New Zealand, who were also beaten by Ireland to bring to an end their record run back in November.

A first-half try from Iain Henderson and eight points from the boot of a battered Johnny Sexton established a lead that England never looked like closing, despite Owen Farrell's three penalties.

It was a horrible, chastening evening for Eddie Jones' men, the first defeat of his reign coming with arguably the worst performance of his 18 matches in charge, although they at least have the consolation of retaining their Six Nations title.

Champions: England lift the Six Nations trophy at the end of the match in Dublin

England are the champions for the second successive year

Ireland had come into the match having lost two of their four matches in the championship, but a green-shirted gale blew the men in white away, their much-vaunted finishers unable to get them out of jail one more time.

The victory ensured Ireland finished second in the table, ahead of France and Scotland on points difference.

Six Nations 2017: Ireland 13-9 England - BBC Sport (external - login to view)

France defeat Wales after TWENTY MINUTES of added time in Paris

BBC Sport
18 March 2017

France 20-18 Wales

France: Tries: Lamerat, Chouly Cons: Lopez 2 Pens: Lopez 2
Pens: Halfpenny 6

In an extraordinary encounter, France came from behind to win the match an incredible 20 minutes into added time

France snatched a dramatic and controversial Six Nations win over Wales in an extraordinary encounter.

Trailing by five points with the clock ticking past 100 minutes, Damien Chouly drove over from close range and Camille Lopez's conversion clinched the win.

Leigh Halfpenny had kicked six penalties - three from 50 metres-plus - to cancel Remi Lamerat's early try.

But the match will live long in the memory for the 20-minute added-time barrage on the Wales line.

Referee Wayne Barnes issued a yellow card to Samson Lee in the 82nd minute and had to deal with a claim of biting on Wales wing George North in the face of a tumultuous home crowd at the Stade de France.

The television match official Peter Fitzgibbon could not find any clear footage so the game was allowed to continue.

Barnes also allowed France to replace tight-head prop Uini Atonio with Rabah Slimani who had earlier been replaced, with the France team doctor insisting Atonio needed a head injury assessment.

Lee had returned to bring Wales back up to 15 men before Chouly claimed the decisive score after a series of penalties near the Wales line.

It was a remarkable end to a difficult Six Nations campaign for Wales which sees them finish fifth and with three defeats for the first time since 2010.

Gael Fickou of France looks to offload as he is tackled by Dan Biggar

Leigh Halfpenny kicks for goal in ParisFrance moved onto 14 points and second place before Ireland denied England a Grand Slam (external - login to view) in Dublin to finish second behind the visitors.

Rob Howley's Wales finished one place above winless Italy after securing two tournament triumphs - against Italy and Ireland - and following defeats by England and Scotland.

The incredible finale followed what had been a low-key match until the 77th minute, with French indiscipline allowing the immaculate Halfpenny to wipe out an early 10-point deficit with a flawless display of place-kicking.

But Wales rarely threatened the French line, and struggled throughout at the scrum.

France won the bruising encounter in Paris

Six Nations 2017: France 20-18 Wales - BBC Sport (external - login to view)

Scotland give Cotter winning send off

BBC Sport
18 March 2017

Scotland 29-0 Italy

Scotland: Tries: Russell, Scott, Visser, Seymour Cons: Russell 3 Pen: Hogg

Scotland won a third Six Nations match in the same campaign for the first time since 2006 to send departing Kiwi coach Vern Cotter out on a high at Murrayfield.

Stuart Hogg's long-range penalty put the hosts ahead before Finn Russell finished off heavy pressure to score.

Replacement Matt Scott touched down the second for a 15-0 lead, with Italy's Carlo Canna missing three penalties.

The Azzurri botched two scoring chances before further tries from Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour sealed a bonus point.

Four tries brought Scotland's tally for the championship to 14, surpassing their record, set last year, of 11 for a Six Nations campaign.

Despite their three victories, the Scots had to settle for a repeat of last year's fourth-place finish, on points difference, after victories for France against Wales, (external - login to view) and Ireland over England. (external - login to view)

This was a 12th Six Nations defeat in a row for Italy, who finished with the Wooden Spoon for a 12th time in 18 seasons.

Tim Visser attacks for Scotland

Six Nations 2017: Scotland 29-0 Italy - BBC Sport (external - login to view)
Last edited by Blackleaf; Mar 19th, 2017 at 06:21 AM..

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