So there we are. The Six Nations are done for another year. And just when we’d started to get going. After several weekends of wading through treacle, the Northern Hemisphere began to find its mojo. The final weekend didn’t surprise the bookies but it did deliver some wonderful moments.
Wales rampaged past Italy and posted a record score. Against an Azzurri side, bereft of all their early tournament hope, the men in red found it too easy to open them up. But the most glorious moment came in the second half. As Biggar stroked his conversion through the posts, the assistant referee raised his flag and, in a fit of curious disorientation, inexplicably ran into the post protector. The video is below, and it’s worth a look for its slapstick simplicity. It did nothing for the official’s credibility. You’d hope that seeing stuff is quite high on the list of things you need a touch judge to be able to do. ‘Open your eyes sir, you’re missing a wonderful game.’
Ireland v Scotland delivered a high tempo match with some lovely tries. There was some comedy too. Hogg and Seymour colliding to gift Earls his score was good, but not as amusing as the look Laidlaw gave the prone pair. If Greg’s eyes could speak, they would have used words like ‘morons’ and ‘useless’ and ‘fucking’, but not necessarily in that order. The Scotland scrum half was at it again in the second half with referee Gauzere. The Frenchman had called the Scotland captain and Heaslip together for a chat about discipline and, after a clumsy explanation that only served to confuse the situation further, uttered the phrase, ‘You understand me?’ Laidlaw shrugged and made a face that said, “No, you daft bastard, I haven’t a clue”. Two great countries failing to communicate properly is what make the Six Nations so lovely.
The best line, however, came from the commentary box. As Stuart Hogg scythed and sped away for a lovely try, Scott Hastings found the moment his life had been waiting for; he said “Have you ever seen a better try from a Scotland fullback?!” Never has so much pleasure been enjoyed on TV by a younger brother. There was a moment’s silence following the remark, presumably as Scott, who’s life has been spent in Gavin’s shadow, high-fived everyone in a ten metre radius. Good times.
Not so good was Sexton’s feigning. Having been somersaulted by Dunbar, Sexton appealed to the referee about the flip before clutching his head. It was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but on slow motion replay, it looked ridiculous. Dunbar was binned and Sexton was entered into next year’s BAFTAs. He’ll come third behind Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne. But they can’t kick at goal, see.
Looking to claim top prize in Paris were England. A chilly Saturday evening and Eddie Jones had a date with destiny. Eighty minutes to show the world just how poor a coach Stuart Lancaster was. The first few seconds of the game had Chris Ashton spitting out his extra sweet tea. Fickou and Watson went up for the kickoff, and on the way down, the Bath winger felt his way down the Frenchman’s face like a Braille user reading erotic fiction. Close up pictures whizzed around twittersphere and no one really knew what this England side would have to do to feel the wrath of a disciplinary process.
England clunked into gear. Tries came via Care and Cole. The first saw the electric Harlequin hare through a gap like a fat kid towards an unmanned ice-cream van. The second was a little controversial. Vunipola found himself slightly in front of the Leicester prop and the impressive Guirado tackled them both. It looked a little like obstruction but everyone’s favourite referee and one-liner merchant (we call him Nige) dismissed the TMO after just one look.
Half time brought the news that England’s tackling was down at a 74% success rate and you could hear Paul Gustard being sick into a changing room bin. But as the visitors emerged for the second half, you just had a gut feeling things would be OK. They were ahead and despite Vakatawa’s best hot stepping, France couldn’t dance as a team and weren’t able to overturn the deficit. Watson strode on to the end of a Youngs’ grubber and Farrell kicked every penalty he was given. England were Grand Slam Champions. Even Dylan Hartley, the skipper laid out by a nasty looking bang to the head, was back on his feet and celebrating; there was no keeping he and England down. Via Eddie Jones’ bullish proclamations, they’ve out-believed every other team in the Six Nations. Soon enough cameras took us inside the victorious changing room. It was lovely to see James Haskell smiling, this Grand Slam would have done his confidence the world of good (expect more tiresome sermons from the Archbishop soon).
One draw, one Parisse drop goal attempt, one media ban, one racist slur, one Krutoje, one wooden spoon, one Grand Slam. There’s only one Six Nations. And it’s on again next year. I know, you can’t wait.
Sam Roberts © 2016. (Text only). All Rights Reserved