2021 Six Nations

Blackleaf

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Rugby union's Six Nations Championship gets under way tomorrow.

This year's tournament kicks off at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with Italy taking on France.

Then champions England take on Scotland in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham in London, where Scotland haven't won since 1983.

Then, on Sunday, Wales take on Ireland at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
 

Blackleaf

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Scotland win the Calcutta Cup: Finn Russell orchestrates first Scottish win at Twickenham since 1983


England 6-11 Scotland

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Scotland claimed a first win at Twickenham since 1983 as returning fly-half Finn Russell orchestrated a shock 11-6 Six Nations victory over England.

Capitalising on the hosts' ill discipline, Russell gave Scotland a three-point lead before helping to set up Duhan van der Merwe's try.

Defending champions England clawed back six points and Russell's charge was briefly halted by a yellow card.

But a resilient Scotland were undeterred and added another penalty.

England had been favourites to win the tournament again but, with France having opened their Six Nations with a 50-10 defeat of Italy, their chances suddenly seem much slimmer.

Scotland, on the other hand, look likely to improve on last year's fourth-place finish with Wales their opponents at Murrayfield next weekend.

That is one of three home games for the Scots in the 2021 Six Nations, with round three's trip to Paris now looking decisive for their title hopes.

Finn Russell
There were men of the match all over the pitch for Scotland but Finn Russell - pictured here with the Calcutta Cup lid on his head - stole the show despite his yellow card


France score seven tries in Six Nations opener


Italy 10-50 France

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France swept Italy aside to start the 2021 Six Nations with an emphatic 50-10 bonus-point win in Rome.

The 2020 runners-up never looked back after Dylan Cretin scored in the fifth minute for the first of seven tries.

Teddy Thomas crossed twice, while scrum-half Antoine Dupont set up three tries as well as scoring himself.

Italy's only try came from Luca Sperandio but the inexperienced Azzuri could do nothing to prevent their 28th consecutive Six Nations defeat.

France coach Fabien Galthie will know his side will face a much tougher test when they play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Les Bleus' next outing, while opposite number Franco Smith is set for a daunting few weeks, starting with a trip to Twickenham to face England next Saturday.

 

Blackleaf

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The high tackle red card is going to kill the game.
Especially when the head of the player is inches off the ground.
No sir, I don't like it.

They've started giving them now even if it's accidental, which is just bonkers.
 

Blackleaf

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Wales beat 14-man Ireland in tense Six Nations opener

Wales 21-16 Ireland

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Wales took advantage of Peter O'Mahony's 14th-minute red card to beat Ireland in their Six Nations opener.

Flanker O'Mahony became the first Irishman to be sent off in the Six Nations following a reckless elbow to the head of prop Tomas Francis.

Ireland bounced back to lead 13-6 at half-time through a Tadhg Beirne try and Johnny Sexton's boot.

Tries from George North and Louis Rees-Zammit and 11 points from Leigh Halfpenny sealed success for Wales.

But they nearly lost it at the death, with a penalty giving Billy Burns the chance to kick for the corner and a potential match-winning line-out drive, only for the replacement Ireland fly-half to kick the ball dead, to Wales' huge relief.

It was a fourth win for Wales coach Wayne Pivac in 11 competitive matches and the first against a leading nation following previous successes against Italy and Georgia.

Ireland are still to win an away game under Andy Farrell despite the 14 men of Ireland enjoying territory and possession advantage while Wales' forwards dominated the tackle charts.

 

Blackleaf

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Nothing better than watching a player's leg snap live on TV.

Just a shame it was an England player.
 

Blackleaf

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Hosts find flashes of flair to bounce back from Scotland defeat​

By Becky Grey
BBC Sport at Twickenham
13th February 2021

England 41-18 Italy

Jonny May jumps in the air to score a try
Jonny May's incredible try was the pick of England's scores

England found flashes of attacking flair to bounce back from last weekend's Scotland defeat and claim a six-try Six Nations win against Italy.

Monty Ioane's early try caused a scare at Twickenham, before England's Jonny Hill and Anthony Watson crossed.

Wing Jonny May closed out the first half in style, leaping out of a tackle to touch down in spectacular fashion.

After the break, Watson's impressive intercept try sealed a bonus point for the defending champions.

Substitute back row Jack Willis scored from short range but was almost immediately carried off the pitch on a stretcher after sustaining a knee injury.

Replacement back Tommaso Allan added a second try for Italy before Elliot Daly crossed for England to seal victory and offer some solace to fans after last weekend's unexpected loss.

After Wales' win in Scotland, England will be hoping for an Irish victory against France on Sunday to help get their title bid back on track.



Visitors roar to narrow victory at Murrayfield​



By Tom English
BBC Scotland
13th February 2021

Scotland 24-25 Wales

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Wales edged out 14-man Scotland in a mesmeric thriller at Murrayfield to maintain their 100% start to their Six Nations campaign.

Tries from Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg had the Scots in a 17-8 half-time lead.

But a frantic seven minutes saw the hosts have a try disallowed and Zander Fagerson sent off, while the visitors went over twice to swing the momentum.

A Wyn Jones try was bookended by two from Louis Rees-Zammit, the latter proving crucial in the bonus-point win.

Scotland claimed a losing bonus point too, but 20-year-old Rees-Zammit's efforts were the highlight of the encounter.

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Blackleaf

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Wales Vs England

What suburb of Cardiff is the referee from? He's given TWO Welsh tries scored illegally, even when looking at the second one several times on the video replay.

Absolutely shocking. Hopefully World Rugby take a look at this and severely reprimand him.
 

Blackleaf

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Absolute appalling.

Wales's first try was given by the Frog referee even though England were having a drinks break.

The second one was given even though the Wales player clearly knocked the ball on with his right hand. The video ref is suspect, too, because it seems he couldn't see what was a clear knock on so he let the ref decide who gave it.
 

Blackleaf

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Wales defeat England in controversial circumstances

By Gareth Griffiths
BBC Sport Wales at Principality Stadium
27 February 2021

Wales 40-24 England

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Wales won the Triple Crown with victory over England in a dramatic Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium.

Controversial tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams helped Wales open a 17-14 half-time lead in Cardiff, with Anthony Watson responding for England.

Kieran Hardy and Ben Youngs then swapped second-half tries as the teams went into the last 15 minutes level.

Callum Sheedy's boot and a late try from Cory Hill moved Wales to within two games of a Grand Slam.

Wayne Pivac's side now have trips to Italy and France on March 13 and March 20 respectively as they seek a second clean sweep in the past three tournaments.

England will point to the two first-half tries were awarded by French referee Pascal Gauzere, but will be also left to rue their continued indiscipline, with lock Maro Itoje especially guilty.

Adams' score was allowed after a quickly taken tap penalty kick from Dan Biggar, while Williams crossed despite suggestions of a Louis Rees-Zammit knock-on in the build-up.

Those tries helped Wales record their highest points tally against England as they followed up victories against Ireland and Scotland.

Defending champions England have now lost two of their opening three matches.

Plenty has been written about the lack of crowds in stadiums during the coronavirus pandemic, but a Six Nations game between Wales and England - usually so vibrant - conjured perhaps the eeriest atmosphere yet.

Wales' George North led the sides out as he became the youngest player to win 100 caps for his country in one of five changes from the side that beat Scotland.

In the minute's silence to mark the stand against racism, half of the England squad took the knee while Wales kept their usual stance of remaining standing.

England set the tone by giving away three early penalties in the opening five minutes with Biggar slotting over the opening three points.

Itoje's effective nuisance value almost paid off with an England try when he charged down a Hardy kick, but covering full-back Williams just beat his former Saracens team-mate to the touchdown.

Breaks from Elliot Daly and Youngs allowed Farrell to level the scores.

Refereeing decisions anger England​

The first moment of controversy saw wing Adams cross to score after collecting a quick clever cross kick from a quickly taken Biggar penalty.

England captain Farrell argued vehemently there were water carriers on the field and his side had no chance to reset after being asked to speak to his team about their discipline.

But Gauzere batted away the complaints and allowed the score which Biggar converted.

It was, however, a special moment for Adams who was back in the starting side after serving a two-match suspension for breaking Covid-19 protocols.

Farrell reduced the deficit with his second penalty as Gauzere's whistle continued to dominate proceedings.

The next disputed score occurred when Liam Williams crossed after Rees-Zammit fumbled possession from an Adams chip.

Gauzere gave an initial decision on the field of a try and a discussion with television match official Alex Ruiz and replays did not change his mind that Rees-Zammit had not knocked the ball on or was not in control of possession.

Biggar converted off the post and everything was going Wales' way.

England responded almost immediately with a try from wing Watson from their first flowing move. Farrell missed the conversion, but slotted over a penalty to reduce the deficit to 17-14 at half-time.

 

Blackleaf

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Improved Irish cruise to easy win in Rome​

By Michael Morrow
BBC Sport NI

Italy 10-48 Ireland

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Ireland ran in six tries to claim their first win of this year's Six Nations in a one-sided contest against a poor Italy in Rome.

Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Will Connors scored to open up a first-half lead for a much-improved visiting team before Johan Meyer replied.

CJ Stander, Connors and Keith Earls added further tries after the break as Ireland strolled to victory.

For Italy, it is a 30th consecutive Six Nations defeat.

The Azzurri have conceded 139 points in their past three matches, and despite flashes of attacking flair, it is their porous defence that continues to fail them in a winless run in the tournament that stretches back to 2013.

A comfortable win with a clear and accurate attacking identity was what Ireland required following consecutive defeats, and that is what was delivered as they produced an accomplished performance that will provide grounds for optimism as they approach a meeting with Scotland at Murrayfield in two weeks.

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Blackleaf

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Scotland's Six Nations match with France is unlikely to take place on the weekend of 6-7 March after a further Covid case in the home squad forced its postponement.

The game was due to be played on Sunday, despite 10 French players and some coaches testing positive, but it was announced an 11th player had the virus earlier on Thursday.

It had been expected the game would be pushed to the fallow week, but the whole France squad are now isolating and would not be available by then.

Organisers say a new date will be announced "in due course" and they are currently considering several options, including a midweek game in the week commencing 8 March, or the weekend of 27 March.

However, if the game takes place outside World Rugby's international window, Scotland could be missing more than 10 players as they will have to return to their clubs in England and France.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend says he is disappointed but accepts the decision.

"We will wait to see what options are available to play," he said. "But it remains our position that we want all our eligible players available so we can compete to the level we would have this weekend."

Scotland sit fourth in the Six Nations table, having followed their historic victory against England at Twickenham with a one-point home loss to Wales, while unbeaten France top the standings.

France captain Charles Ollivon and star scrum-half Antoine Dupont are among those isolating after positive tests, along with head coach Fabien Galthie.

Galthie and another staff member were the first to test positive on 16 February and the virus has spread through the camp since.

Dupont tested positive a few days later, followed by wing Gabin Villiere and prop Mohamed Haouas.

Arthur Vincent, Julien Marchand, Ollivon, Brice Dulin, Cyril Baille, Romain Taofifenua, Peato Mauvaka and one other unnamed player have since contracted the virus.

Following this weekend's round of matches, the Six Nations is scheduled to take a two-week break as norbefore returning on 13 March.

 

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Wales defeat England in controversial circumstances

By Gareth Griffiths
BBC Sport Wales at Principality Stadium
27 February 2021

Wales 40-24 England

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Wales won the Triple Crown with victory over England in a dramatic Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium.

Controversial tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams helped Wales open a 17-14 half-time lead in Cardiff, with Anthony Watson responding for England.

Kieran Hardy and Ben Youngs then swapped second-half tries as the teams went into the last 15 minutes level.

Callum Sheedy's boot and a late try from Cory Hill moved Wales to within two games of a Grand Slam.

Wayne Pivac's side now have trips to Italy and France on March 13 and March 20 respectively as they seek a second clean sweep in the past three tournaments.

England will point to the two first-half tries were awarded by French referee Pascal Gauzere, but will be also left to rue their continued indiscipline, with lock Maro Itoje especially guilty.

Adams' score was allowed after a quickly taken tap penalty kick from Dan Biggar, while Williams crossed despite suggestions of a Louis Rees-Zammit knock-on in the build-up.

Those tries helped Wales record their highest points tally against England as they followed up victories against Ireland and Scotland.

Defending champions England have now lost two of their opening three matches.

Plenty has been written about the lack of crowds in stadiums during the coronavirus pandemic, but a Six Nations game between Wales and England - usually so vibrant - conjured perhaps the eeriest atmosphere yet.

Wales' George North led the sides out as he became the youngest player to win 100 caps for his country in one of five changes from the side that beat Scotland.

In the minute's silence to mark the stand against racism, half of the England squad took the knee while Wales kept their usual stance of remaining standing.

England set the tone by giving away three early penalties in the opening five minutes with Biggar slotting over the opening three points.

Itoje's effective nuisance value almost paid off with an England try when he charged down a Hardy kick, but covering full-back Williams just beat his former Saracens team-mate to the touchdown.

Breaks from Elliot Daly and Youngs allowed Farrell to level the scores.

Refereeing decisions anger England​

The first moment of controversy saw wing Adams cross to score after collecting a quick clever cross kick from a quickly taken Biggar penalty.

England captain Farrell argued vehemently there were water carriers on the field and his side had no chance to reset after being asked to speak to his team about their discipline.

But Gauzere batted away the complaints and allowed the score which Biggar converted.

It was, however, a special moment for Adams who was back in the starting side after serving a two-match suspension for breaking Covid-19 protocols.

Farrell reduced the deficit with his second penalty as Gauzere's whistle continued to dominate proceedings.

The next disputed score occurred when Liam Williams crossed after Rees-Zammit fumbled possession from an Adams chip.

Gauzere gave an initial decision on the field of a try and a discussion with television match official Alex Ruiz and replays did not change his mind that Rees-Zammit had not knocked the ball on or was not in control of possession.

Biggar converted off the post and everything was going Wales' way.

England responded almost immediately with a try from wing Watson from their first flowing move. Farrell missed the conversion, but slotted over a penalty to reduce the deficit to 17-14 at half-time.

So England loses again and its the refs fault. You guys need some original storylines. I have heard this one before in a different sport.
 

Blackleaf

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Wales hammer Italy to set up Grand Slam finale against France​

By Gareth Griffiths
BBC Sport Wales
13th March 2021

Italy 7-48 Wales

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Wales set up a Grand Slam encounter against France in Paris next Saturday by clinically disposing of hapless Italy with a seven-try rout in Rome.

Hooker Ken Owens crossed for two tries, with further scores from Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, George North, Callum Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit.

Italy only managed a try through wing Monty Ioane in response.

Wayne Pivac's side can complete the Six Nations clean sweep by winning at the Stade de France next weekend.

France and Scotland will still have a match to play after their third-round game was postponed because of coronavirus cases in the French camp.

But Wales have the chance to create their own 'Super Saturday' with victory in Paris, where they could secure a second Grand Slam in three tournaments.

The omens are good. Wales have already won their fifth Six Nations Triple Crown since 2000 and on each of the previous occasions they have done so, they have gone on to seal the Grand Slam.

It represents a remarkable turnaround from a side that finished fifth in Pivac's first tournament in charge and managed only three wins in 10 games in 2020, although we have grown used to the boom-and-bust nature of Welsh rugby.

It might also be a special day for captain Alun Wyn Jones, who could become the first Welshman to celebrate four Grand Slams.

Wales have now matched their record of 17 Six Nations tries in one tournament with a game remaining.

This was Wales' 16th successive victory over Italy, with the last defeat coming in 2007, and also represents their longest winning run against one opponent, overtaking a run of 15 victories against France from 1908-1927.

 

Blackleaf

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Late Maro Itoje try earns England dramatic Six Nations win​

By Mike Henson
BBC Sport at Twickenham
13th March 2021

England 23-20 France

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England overhauled a stubborn, skilful France to snatch victory in a see-sawing Six Nations match at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones' side trailed 17-13 at the break after dazzling scores from Antoine Dupont and Damian Penaud had put France in front.

The hosts' pressure told in a cagey second half as Maro Itoje barged over for a 77th-minute score.

Even then France threatened to land a decisive counter-punch but Brice Dulin's break was snuffed out.

Wales' win over Italy earlier in the day means England's victory is too late to salvage a Six Nations title defence.

But victory went some way to re-establishing England's credentials as the northern hemisphere's superpower, in world rankings at least.

The 2019 World Cup runners-up had slipped to fourth, below France, after defeats by Scotland and Wales in their opening three games of this year's campaign.

Today's victory takes them back above their opponents to third.

But, with Wales and Scotland upwardly mobile and France a few minutes away from a first win at Twickenham since 2005, any claims to being Europe's number one side are far from conclusive.

France, who play unbeaten Wales in Paris next weekend, can still win the title for the first time since 2010.

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Blackleaf

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Townsend's side rout visitors at Murrayfield​

By Mike Henson
BBC Sport
Saturday 20th March 2021

Scotland 52-10 Italy

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Scotland ran in eight tries as they dispatched a limp Italy at Murrayfield and returned to winning ways in the Six Nations.

Hooker Dave Cherry and wing Duhan van der Merwe both scored twice, with Darcy Graham and Huw Jones running in first-half scores.

Scott Steele and Sam Johnson also scored as Italy's indiscipline brought two yellow cards after the break.

Scotland could still salvage second place from their Six Nations campaign.

However, it would require a bonus point in the rearranged trip to France - a far tougher assignment - and other results to go their way.

Several of coach Gregor Townsend's rejigged line-up took the opportunity to shine.

Centre Jones - making his first start in more than a year - looked sharp, while Cherry - preferred to George Turner - was precise at a line-out that misfired in defeat by Ireland.

Whatever positives, however, come with the caveat that they came against an Italy side who were vastly over-matched for the fifth round in succession.

 

Blackleaf

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Hosts impress as they stun dismal England despite Bundee Aki red card​



By Michael Morrow
BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
20th January 2021

Ireland 32-18 England

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Ireland produced by far their best performance of the Andy Farrell era to beat a sorry England 32-18 in the Six Nations in Dublin.

Keith Earls and Jack Conan scored superb first-half tries while Johnny Sexton kicked 22 points with Lions coach Warren Gatland watching on.

Late touchdowns from Ben Youngs and Jonny May after Bundee Aki's red card did not mask a dismal English display.

Eddie Jones' side are now set for a fifth-place finish.

Ireland's win moves them up to second in the table but their final standing will not be decided until France and Scotland meet next week in their re-arranged fixture that will end this season's competition.

Regardless of their final position, the manner of the win over England, a first in five attempts, will live long in Irish memories in addition to vindicating Farrell's constant insistence that this is a team travelling in the right direction.

As for England, their lifeless and ill-disciplined display after such an engrossing win over France a week ago is arguably a new low for a side who only a year-and-a-half ago reached the World Cup final.

 

Blackleaf

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Late drama as hosts deny Wales Grand Slam at death​

By Gareth Griffiths
BBC Sport Wales
Saturday 20th March 2021

France 32-30 Wales

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France inflicted Grand Slam heartbreak on Wales in a Parisian thriller to keep alive their Six Nations title hopes.

Brice Dulin crossed in injury time to clinch an epic bonus-point win and take the tournament to the final match next weekend, when they play Scotland.

Wales are five points clear at the top, but have now played their final game.

France were down to 14 men after 68 minutes when Paul Willemse was red carded but two Welsh yellows helped them erase a 10-point deficit to win.

Wales picked up a losing bonus point, which means to have any chance of winning the title France must defeat Scotland in Paris next Friday with an attacking bonus point.

It would then come down to points difference, which currently favours Wales 61 to 41.

A fantastic first half saw the two sides locked at 17-17 with Romain Taofifenua and Antoine Dupont's tries matched by Dan Biggar and Josh Navidi scores.

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If France are to deny Wales the Six Nations title, they must beat Scotland with a four-try bonus point and by at least 21 points to take it on points difference

The second half was even more astonishing, with France second row Willemse red carded for sticking his fingers into the eye of Wales prop Wyn Jones as he savagely - and illegally - cleared him out at a ruck.

But France actually finished with a man advantage for the final eight minutes after Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were sin-binned in a pulsating and chaotic finale.

And Wales' 10-point lead was not enough, as tries from captain Charles Ollivon and Dulin left Wayne Pivac's side stunned, and relying on Scotland if they are to win the title.

The tournament finale as France host the Scots was due to take place in February, but was postponed because of a Covid-19 outbreak in the French camp.

The late indiscipline proved Wales' undoing after being outstanding in this department during the tournament with yellow cards shown to the side for the first time in a Six Nations game since 2018.

The defeat is particularly cruel for Wales, who have turned things around in fine fashion under Wayne Pivac after the New Zealander had only won three out of 10 games in his first season in charge.