The 2017 6 Nations kicked off on Saturday and what a weekend of rugby it was. The annual tournament was more anticipated than usual given the new bonus point rules and if the first round is anything to go by, the incentive of bonus try points seems to have done wonders for the game.
Remember, there’s only been one round and it’s anyone’s tournament. There’s still time to create a Sweepstakes with your friends and family.
Arguably the most important round of the tournament, every team wants to get off to a good start and continue with winning momentum. Round 1 was full of tries, surprises and nail-biting final minutes. Find a round-up of the action below as well as our stand out players.
Scotland 27 – Ireland 22
The odds and history were against them but the biggest surprise of the weekend was Scotland’s win over Ireland at Murrayfield. Despite only having 40% of the possession, Scotland made the most of whenever they had the ball. Particularly in the first half, it seemed like every time Scotland got the ball they were doing something dangerous with it. Two tries from Hogg meant Scotland went in at half time 21 points to 8 ahead.
The second half felt as though it might have been a familiar story for Scotland fans as Ireland bounced back with a vengeance. 14 unanswered points put Ireland in the lead for a short time but some fantastic game management from Captain, Greig Laidlaw, allowed Scotland to close out the game.
The broad smile of the typically glum looking Vern Cotter at the end of the game showed just how important this victory was for the home team.
Stand Out Players
Stuart Hogg: One of the best performances of the weekend, Hogg made a clear case for inclusion on the Lions team sheet.
Paddy Jackson: The top point scorer for Ireland, Jackson kept Ireland in the game, always appearing in the right place.
England 19 – France 16
A tense affair at Twickenham resulted in a record-breaking winning streak of 15 games for England. However, that record looked far from a sure thing, in what was the tightest game of the weekend. France led up until the final 10 minutes, with Lopez capitalising on early penalties to put England under pressure.
The teams seemed evenly matched and given the form England have been in recently, this looked like a France side that could be appearing very high on the table. But in Round 1, it wasn’t to be. A late try from replacement Ben Te’o and the sure foot of Farrell edged England ahead in the end. Will it be another Grand Slam for the men in white? A trip to Cardiff next week will likely be their biggest challenge.
Stand Out Players
Maro Itoje: A massive effort from the young England star, 2 key turnovers and a fantastic lineout record, Itoje has made himself indispensable.
Louis Picamoles: The official Man of the Match, Picamoles had a blistering game, with more metres made, defenders beaten and offloads than any other player in Round 1.
Italy 7 – Wales 33
The first 6 Nations fixture for new Italy Coach, Conor O’Shea, was never going to be easy. Despite some errors, Italy held their own for the first 40 minutes heading in at half time with a marginal 4 point lead.
However, the mistakes soon started to appear as Italy conceded 3 penalties in the first 15 minutes of the second half. When your opposition has Leigh Halfpenny kicking for them, those are not opportunities you can give away. Italy failed to score in the final 40 minutes and Wales grew their lead substantially. While Italy did seem to get on the wrong side of referee JP Doyle, they were outclassed at the end of the day. But their stoic defence did manage to deny Wales a precious bonus point. We will find out in Round 5 if that could prove costly.
Stand Out Players
Jonathan Davies: A key piece of the Wales puzzle, Davies stormed through the Italy defences and even bagged himself a try.
Maxime Mbanda: A huge defensive effort from Mbanda clearly stopped that scoreline from looking worse. With a bit more luck and performances like Mbandas, Italy will be a force to be reckoned with.
Round 2 promises to be epic. One of the biggest fixtures of the tournament could shape the entire 6 Nations as England travel to Cardiff to take on Wales. What game are you excited for? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter or Facebook. Find out more information on rugby law changes for the 2017/18 season.