Six Nations Round 1: That Friend Of Yours

The Six Nations. That friend of yours. The one you hadn’t heard from in a while, that you hoped had mellowed a little, settled down perhaps, and yet within half an hour of the reunion is asking you to stay out the whole night and, although you’ve asked them not to, is at the bar ordering more drinks. Yeah, that Six Nations. Your other half hates them.

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There was, in truth, a little bit of everything this weekend. Wales showed that club form does translate rather well to the big stage. Scotland showed it does not. For all the vim and vigour of Saturday’s first game, the second appeared vacuous. France v Ireland listed awkwardly from kicking tee to kicking tee, until Teddy Thomas (avec topknot) cut a line that would have stirred the deepest loins of Serge himself, meaning Ireland’s favourite Sexton would have to take to the pulpit: divine intervention. I mean, how do you drop a goal like that? Surely his giant gonads would have got in the way?

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Wales were a delight. And I say that, safe in the knowledge that next week they may not be. But glued together with West Walian nous, the Principality’s finest had us all nodding away like we did when that fat man went to the Sevens dressed as an avocado. It was simple and effective. Wales moved fast and passed well. Being decimated by injury has revealed that Gatland and Co may have been picking the wrong side these past few years. What do they know? What do we know?

“Rien…” replied Teddy Thomas (Toe-Mah) as he scampered through and underneath the posts to edge France in front in Paris. That final ten minutes revealed doctors know very little too. Having misdiagnosed Matthieu Jalibert’s twisted knee, our match day MD was at it again as Antoine Dupont crumpled to the floor clutching his leg. Everyone’s favourite referee joined in with the ignorance. “I’m not a medic,” Owens chirped as Ireland enquired as to why Machenaud was allowed back on the pitch. Investigations have begun and I’d proffer it is the sort of activity that could make this sport really quite ill. Forty odd Irish phases was the immediate remedy. Every man’s industry, allowing one man his moment. It sailed long and high in the Parisian sky. Hell of a sport, this.

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Oh, and England, eternal rugby in the Eternal City. Sunday wasn’t so much ‘shock and awe’ as ‘shut the door’. With ten minutes on the clock, the visitors were dabbing down the ball in the corner and we all knew where we were headed. Italy stuck as many fingers in the dike as they could, but even as Tommaso Benvenuti rounded a flailing Jonny May, you knew they would never have enough. Sam Simmonds’ explosive pace burnt off the Azzurri and as George Ford looped the ball out to the No.8 in the closing minutes, and he in turn found Exeter teammate Jack Nowell on a lovely loop, the defending champions were already thinking of next week. The only real blemish on the afternoon was Ben Youngs retiring from the field with an injured genou (French for head). A scan this week will reveal just how much damage has been done. Expect Dan Robson to wait by his phone and Ben Vellacott to be called up…

And the best thing? Next weekend, we’ll just do it all again. You’ll be there, I know you will. Yeah, that Six Nations: your other half hates them.

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