The Rugby Wrap : Weekend Review (Friday, 23rd, February, 2018 – Sunday, 25th, February, 2018)

 

The Scotland players won the Calcutta Cup after their win against England during the 2018 Six Nations at Murrayfield in Edinburgh

There was Rugby in all the World this weekend with all the competitions taking  place at provincial level and at Test level as well. The domestic leagues (Pro14, Top14, Aviva Premiership) were going on in the same time than the good Round 3 in the Six Nations.

Also, Super Rugby was coming back for the franchises based in New Zealand, Australia and Japan. It was an opportunity to witness how the different franchises were performing. This is a long season but it is always better to start well in the Super Rugby.

This weekend was one of these weekends which may define many clubs’ season. With key players missing in the North, it is always difficult to keep the momentum. In the South, it was all about picking the points in these very important Super Rugby Rounds.

* France vs. Italy : Six Nations U20s (Jean Laville, Gueugnon)

Staged in the little town of Gueugnon in France, the French U20s team had to defend early with some big tackles. The Italy players were showing some intent but the France side scored some stunning counter-attacking tries in that very high-scoring first-half.

Fullback Gervais Cordin got a brace in the first-half while Louis Carbonel was also on the scoreboard, converting the tries as well. Italy could not follow the pace of the game and the France U20s were playing with confidence as winger Iban Etcheverry touched down.

The youngster, playing on the wing, got a brace in this encounter as well. The Italy U20s bounced back with Michele Rizzi, the fly-half, directing the backline. However, the French players remained in control and that was a big win for France U20s (FT : 78-12).

* Munster vs. Glasgow : Pro14 (Independent Park, Cork, Ireland)

The Munster players were hosting the Glasgow Warriors at Independent Park, in Cork. Munster started very well with fly-half Tyler Bleyendaal kicking an early penalty, Showing some strength, Munster scored a try thanks to a big maul and Niall Scannell.

Controlling the game well with number 8 Robin Copeland making the tackles, Munster had the territory. Tyler Bleyendaal added a penalty just before Half-Time. Nevertheless, Glasgow Warriors replied with a stunning try scored by Lee Jones from the midfield.

Munster re-gathered and prop James Cronin scored a quick try and Tyler Bleyendaal added a penalty. Glasgow Warriors attacked in the last quarter of the game but Munster stayed strong in defence. They managed to hold their lines and seal the win (FT : 21-10).

* France vs. Italy : Six Nations (Stade Vélodrome, Marseille)

It was the first Six Nations game staged outside of the capital in France. The French team started well with second-rower Paul Gabrillagues touching down early but Italy bounced back. They got a penalty try after a good driving maul with Sergio Parisse, leading them.

In a very scrappy game, scrum-half Maxime Machenaud scored two penalties and there was a 4-point advantage for France at Half-Time. Maxime Machenaud and Tommaso Allan traded some penalties before Hugo Bonneval scored a counter-attacking try.

Later, centre Mathieu Bastareaud carried over the line for the try. However, Italy bounced back with Matteo Minozzi, the second try for his team. The Italy hooker Luca Bigi was binned and France could not take bonus point but it was a good win (FT : 34-17).

* Crusaders vs. Chiefs : Super Rugby (AMI Park, Christchurch, New Zealand)

The defending Champions went through the phases thanks to their powerful forwards. Flanker Matt Todd scored the first try and Richie Mo’unga added a second after a costly loose pass from Damian McKenzie. However, the Crusaders really lacked discipline.

Richie Mo’unga was binned for foul play. Though, Jordan Taufua added a try but the Chiefs flanker Sam Cane scored an individual try. The Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa was yellow-carded. He made a high tackle as Solomon Alaimalo scored for the Chiefs.

In the second-half, the Crusaders backed their structures as Sam Whitelock scored. Penalty try was awarded as well with Lachlan Boshier yellow-carded for a high tackle on Ryan Crotty. George Bridge and Manasa Mataele sealed it with great scores (FT : 45-23).

* Waratahs vs. Stormers : Super Rugby (Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia)

The Waratahs put the pressure early on the Stormers and Bernard Foley kicked a penalty after Siya Kolisi’s deliberate knock-down. However, the Stormers replied straight away with Raymond Rhule making an assist for prop Steven Kitshoff who had a try.

The Waratahs bounced back and fullback Israel Folau re-gathered a high kick to score after a race. Michael Hooper added a try from a driving maul but Kobus Van Dyk touched down just before Half-Time. In the second-half, the intensity remained the same.

Hooker Damien Fitzpatrick concluded a Waratahs build-up while SP Marais got a try for the Stormers after a scrum. Rob Simmons was binned but the Waratahs held on. With the 82nd minute playing, Ned Hanigan snatched it with a try on the corner (FT : 34-27).

* Exeter vs. Northampton : Premiership (Sandy Park, England)

The Exeter Chiefs were put under an early pressure as the Northampton Saints scored a quicky try. However, the Exeter Chiefs came back with a penalty try but it was not enough. Fly-half Piers Francis added a penalty before Alec Hepburn replied for Exeter.

Nevertheless, the defending Champions could not keep the lead as Ben Foden found space on his left wing to score. The second-half was not better for the Exeter Chiefs as fullback Harry Mallinder touched down after a counter-attack for Northampton Saints.

The Exeter Chiefs had to react with Gareth Steenson kicking a penalty. Winger Olly Woodburn found space and linked up with Don Armand who scored. Number 8 Thomas Waldrom finished a build-up and Joe Simmonds’ conversion sealed the win (FT : 31-30).

* Bath vs. Sale : Premiership (The Recreation Ground, England)

Bath Rugby began really well the encounter with playmaker James Wilson kicking two penalties. Sale Sharks re-gathered and their direct approach caused disruption in the Bath’s defence. Winger Denny Solomona found space in the midfield to score the try.

Just after that, the ball was moved wide and Marland Yarde, the other winger, was on the scoreboard. Later, James Wilson and Faf de Klerk traded some penalties for the two sides. Bath went through the phases and back-rower Zach Mercer was the try scorer.

In second-half, Faf de Klerk kicked a few penalties again. Josh Bayliss carried powerfully to get a second try for Bath. Denny Solomona got a brace for Sale but Zach Mercer’s brace combined with James Wilson’s conversion earned the win for Bath (FT : 33-32).

* Scotland vs. England : Six Nations (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)

Scotland started this game with some attacking intent and they showed that with Greg Laidlaw kicking a penalty. Owen Farrell replied with a penalty as well for England but Scotland were the most dangerous side when Huw Jones picked up a loose ball to score.

England could not get the momentum though Owen Farrell added a second penalty. However, Scotland took some risks, throwing huge passes, and it paid for them. Winger Sean Maitland finished on the left corner while Huw Jones got a brace after a big run.

In the second-half, the English players mixed things up with Owen Farrell scoring a try. Lacking discipline, they could not come back as Sam Underhill was binned for a high tackle. John Barclay and Hamish Watson made turnovers and it was History (FT : 25-13).

* Scarlets vs. Ulster : Pro14 (Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales)

The defending Champions, the Scarlets, trusted their brand as usual but it did not exactly work immediately. A cross-field kick was re-gathered by Tommy Bowe and Stuart McCloskey scored. Dan Jones closed the gap for the Scarlets with a penalty just after that.

Ulster had a try disallowed because of foul play leading to that try and the second-half came. The Scarlets had some field position and winger Ioan Nicholas scored on his wing. Meanwhile, John Cooney kicked a penalty and the game was tied with 30 minutes to go.

Showing patience, the Scarlets made the difference with Ryan Conbeer who scored a stunning try. Back player Paul Asquith touched down following a Dan Jones’ chip-kick. Later, second-rower Tadgh Beirne scored the bonus point try for the win (FT : 34-10).

* France vs. Italy : Women’s Six Nations (Armand Cesari, Furiani)

The France team wanted to make a statement, just like the France U20s and the Men Senior team. It started really well with winger Cyrielle Badet scoring twice on his right wing. Both tries were converted by the fullback Jesse Tremoulieres from the touchlines.

Fullback Jesse Tremoulieres also got his try as the bonus point try came quickly after that. The Italy side had to play with 14 players following a deliberate knock-down. In the second-half, the game became a bit scrappy and Italy were hanging on in their own half.

Having already scored in the first-half, backline replacement Mariane Menager got a brace. Fly-half Pauline Bourdon added a late score to the big win. Jesse Tremoulieres was awarded the Woman Of The Match Award after a brillant kicking display (FT : 57-0).

* Toulouse vs. Brive : Top14 (Ernest Wallon, France)

Stade Toulousain were looking for the points in that home game and it started with pace and intensity. Relying on their counter-attacking skills, they scored two tries. Wingers Cheslin Kolbe and Yoann Huget finished two counter-attacks following two turnovers.

Though, Brive came back with Thomas Laranjeira kicking a penalty and Mathieu Ugalde delivering an assist for Julien Le Devedec. Stade Toulousain made some huge tackles and another turnover allowed Zack Holmes to score but Samuel Marques replied just after.

The second-half began and Stade Toulousain went through the phases. Fly-half Thomas Ramos was on song with Yoann Huget having a brace and Maxime Médard scoring after cross-field kick. Defence was strong and penalty try delivered a bonus point (FT : 45-28).

* Saracens vs. Leicester : Premiership (Allianz Park, London, England)

The Saracens were targeting some momentum but Leicester Tigers came with a strong gameplan and outstanding skills. Centre Manu Tuilagi opened the scoreboard when he found space in the midfield and touched down. Ben Spencer replied with a penalty.

Though, Saracens could not take the ball and prop Greg Bateman scored a try, finding space again in the midfield. Later, Matt Toomua threw the offload to Telusa Veainu who touched down. The Saracens tried to bounce back in the second-half but they struggled.

Winger Nathan Earle dropped the ball just before touching down and Manu Tuilagi made an assist for Jonah Holmes. Max Malins had a brace for Saracens in last quarter but it was not enough as Leicester got the bonus point away from home (FT : 20-28).

Conclusion

It has been a fabulous and a fantastic weekend of rugby. First of all, about the Six Nations, Ireland remain the only team in contention for a Grand Slam. France finally won a Test in 341 days while Scotland made a huge statement against England at home.

In the Premiership, the Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby showed some character to win their respective game by a single point. Leicester Tigers got the bonus point win away to the Saracens. In the Pro14, Munster Rugby and the Scarlets got back to winning ways.

With the Top14, Stade Toulousain are still playing their attractive brand of rugby. La Rochelle and Clermont are struggling at the moment and they must correct that. About the Super Rugby, the Crusaders and the Waratahs won and so there is more to come.

What A Weekend ! Huge Games !

Max.

The Rugby Wrap : Weekend Review (Friday, 16th, February, 2018 – Sunday, 18th, February, 2018)

 

The Stormers back-rower Nizaam Carr passes the ball against the Jaguares during the opening Round of Super Rugby 2018

With the Six Nations Championship taking a rest for this weekend, the international players were released, for some of them, to their respective teams. It was an opportunity for some of them to put their hands up for a potential re-call before this third Round.

There were all the leagues on the stage this weekend in the Northern Hemisphere (Aviva Premiership, Pro14 and Top14) and Super Rugby was also coming back. However, just for this first Round, there were games but only contested in the Springbok Conference.

The other Super Rugby franchises would begin their campaign the weekend after with the New Zealand franchises once again favourites. It is a tense period as Rugby is being played everywhere with Test Rugby taking place in the same time than all the leagues.

* Ospreys vs. Kings : Pro14 (Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales)

The Southern Kings began this game really well, showing some good intensity. The Ospreys had to tackle early and finally relied on their forwards pack. Thanks to a dominating scrum, scrum-half Tom Habberfield picked the ball up and scored a good try.

However, the Southern Kings hit back with their winger Yaw Penxe finding some gaps in the defence. They got a second try and the Ospreys were just under pressure. In the second-half, the team re-gathered with back-rower Justin Tipuric showing all his talent.

Patiently, the Ospreys built their game with Owen Watkin combining well. Too strong at scrum time, the Welsh region got two penalty tries from the referee. In the last play of the game, wing Jeff Hassler got bonus point try and it was a comfortable win (FT : 26-12).

* Stormers vs. Jaguares : Super Rugby (Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa)

In Newlands, the Stormers wanted to make a statement but it is the Jaguares who scored the first points thanks to fly-half Nicolas Sanchez. The Stormers quickly built the phases and the build-up was convincingly finished by centre Damian de Allende in the midfield.

Just after that, the Stormers got back on the 22-metre zone with the forwards pack showing his power. Skipper Siya Kolisi beat a tackler and touched down. Meanwhile, the Jaguares closed the gap thanks to winger Emiliano Boffelli, kicking a long-range penalty.

Quickly after the second-half started, the Stormers relied on their finishers as winger Raymond Rhule scored on debut. The Jaguares replied with Joaquin Tuculet but Damian Willemse kicked a penalty and the Stormers defended well to take the win (FT : 28-20).

* Northampton vs. London Irish : Premiership (Franklin’s Garden, England)

The Northampton Saints were caught by the London Irish in that first-half. Winger Alex Lewington was on the scoreboard and it put pressure on the home team. The Northampton Saints conceded two tries before Piers Francis scored a penalty kick after.

Coaching Staff made of Paul Dickens and Alan Gaffney found the words at Half-Time. Going through the phases in the midfield, they spread the ball wide. Winger George North made amends for a mistake in the first-half and got one in the corner, definitely.

Northampton Saints maintained the momentum and the Wallaby centre Rob Horne was also on the scoreboard. Hooker Mikey Haywood did the job, scoring from a driving maul. London Irish added a penalty in second-half but Northampton secured a win (FT : 25-17).

* Leicester vs. Harlequins : Premiership (Welford Road, England)

The Leicester Tigers needed the home win to get back in the higher standings of the Premiership. It started badly for them when the Harlequins winger Alofa Alofa scored after just several minutes on the scoreboard. The try was unconverted by Marcus Smith.

Nevertheless, the Leicester Tigers showed much better intent with Tom Youngs and Sione Kalamafoni leading by example. The Wallaby playmaker Matt Toomua kicked two penalties as he traded penalties with his opponent Marcus Smith towards the Half-Time.

Matt Toomua was the key man in the second-half as he scored a superb individual try. Later, he made a chip-kick, re-gathered by Sione Kalamafoni, as second-rower Graham Kitchener finished the job. Matt Toomua got a double at the end for the win (FT : 33-18).

* Agen vs. Toulouse : Top14 (Stade d’Armandie, France)

In that Top14 game, Agen, who won his ticket for the French league last season, wanted the win to get the confidence back. Stade Toulousain were targeting the play-offs for the end of the season so the bonus point win was definitely the aim for Ugo Mola’s players.

Playing their usual brand with some offloads and threatening runs, Stade Toulousain was on the board early thanks to number 8 Louis-Benoît Madaule. Agen got back in front thanks to two penalties scored by former Queensland Reds playmaker, Jake McIntyre.

Meanwhile, Stade Toulousain kept the possession and the pace was too much for Agen. Scoring stunning tries, fullback Yoann Huget and centre Gael Fickou respectively bagged a brace and a Hat-Trick. Joe Tekori and François Croc added two more tries (FT : 25-52).

* Wasps vs. Exeter : Premiership (Ricoh Arena, Coventry, England)

The remake of last season’s Premiership final did not disappoint at all. The Wasps put an early pressure on the Exeter Chiefs as Marcus Watson scored on the corner. It was tough on the Exeter Chiefs as second-rower Johnny Hill also got a yellow-card for lifting tackle.

Making some good phases of play, the Exeter Chiefs were unable to convert their opportunities into points. Second-five eighth Jimmy Gopperth kicked a penalty and the Wasps had a 10-point advantage to defend at Half-Time with the Exeter Chiefs back in it.

In fact, they defended really well in the first quarter of the second-half. Ashley Johnson was binned for a high tackle as hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie scored to come back into this game. It was close until the end but Dan Robson controlled and Wasps won (FT : 13-7).

Conclusion

It has been a busy weekend on the field with some results in each of the Northern Hemisphere leagues showing a switch in the balance of powers. It applies for the Top14, where money plays a big part, and it is starting to apply for Premiership and Pro14, too.

Super Rugby is back as the Stormers managed to get a winning start even if it was not perfect. The Springbok franchise needs to improve their game management and make less mistakes. If they succeed, they will be the strong contenders to win the Super Rugby.

Next weekend, the Northern Hemisphere leagues will be taking place again and the other Super Rugby franchises will lauch their season. Six Nations will come back and it seems that it is already the money time for that special season with so much competition.

Money Time, Already ! Great Games Coming !

Max.

 

The Rugby Wrap : Weekend Review (Friday, 09th, February, 2018 – Sunday, 11th, February, 2018)

 

The Scotland players won the Auld Alliance Trophy after their win against France during the 2018 Six Nations Championship at Murrayfield

This second weekend of February was going to be another great rugby weekend. The Six Nations Championship for the Year 2018 was going on with the Round 2. There were three nations (England, Ireland and Wales) which were in a contest for the Grand Slam.

Otherwise, the Pro14 and the Premiership were also coming back as the clubs were facing a double challenge. They were targeting a good run of results but with many Test players missing, it meant that coaches needed the management to find a right balance.

In the Championship, the English second division, two clubs are the favourites to be promoted in the Premiership next season. These two sides were going to face each other this weekend with important points on offer : Bristol Rugby and Ealing Trailfinders.

* Dragons vs. Glasgow : Pro14 (Rodney Parade, Newport, Wales)

The Pro14 game between these two sides was really entertaining as both sides were missing number of international players with the Six Nations. The Glasgow Warriors began well and tried to play their usual expansive game against the great Welsh region.

It did not go to plan as Newport opened the scoreboard with a first try. Back player Brandon Thompson managed to get a reply for Glasgow Warriors. He gathered a good chip-kick from scrum-half George Horne who finished a build-up later for a second try.

Though, the Dragons came back with Zane Kirchner leading proceedings from fly-half and Hallam Amos finding gaps in the defence. They scored two tries and the game was tied. In second-half, Glasgow had ball but could not keep it and it was a draw (FT : 15-15).

* Bath vs. Northampton : Premiership (The Recreation Ground, England)

Bath Rugby were absolutely dominated in the opening quarter of the game as they conceded exactly 7 penalties. Managing not to get a yellow-card, Piers Francis kicked two penalties for Northampton Saints though. Just after that, Bath Rugby had a huge reaction.

The forwards pack, including Tom Dunn and Elliot Stooke, made great carries. Freddie Burns scored 3 penalties while the team made the turnovers. Just before Half-Time, centre Ben Tapuai picked the ball up and made the pass to Matt Banahan who scored.

It was a turning point in that game with Freddie Burns kicking two more penalties in second-half. Then, the frowards were rewarded with Nick Auterac and Ross Batty touching down for tries after phases of play. It was a good home win for Bath (FT : 32-19).

* Ealing vs. Bristol : Championship (Trailfinders Sports Ground, London, England)

That Championship game was spectacular between these two sides who were targeting the first place. Bristol Rugby began the game well as quick phases of play allowed centre Tusi Pisi to score. However, Ealing Trailfinders replied with a try after a cross-field kick.

It became worse for Bristol Rugby when Steven Luatua was yellow-carded for a maul infringement. The penalty try was awarded to Ealing Trailfinders but Bristol remained composed and second-row Sam Jeffries touched down after a TMO consultation, there.

Luke Daniels kicked a penalty for Ealing Trailfinders but Bristol made the difference thanks to their fullback Jordan Williams. He scored two brillant individual tries, both converted. Ealing Trailfinders came back but Bristol just snatched the win (FT : 27-28).

* Munster vs. Zebre : Pro14 (Thomond Park, Limerick, Ireland)

The Italian province, Zebre, showed plenty of intensity in the first-half as Munster could not find their game. It was very physical and the forwards pack were focusing on defence. Though, Munster went through the phases as Sam Arnold scored in the corner.

Later, Munster relied on their driving maul to add a second try but Zebre remained in the game. The second-half was all to play for with Zebre using their scrum to take a try. Hooker Tommaso d’Apice had a great workrate but Munster came back with strength.

First, back-rower Robin Copeland scored a try from close range after a good carry from Conor Oliver. Then, Rory Scannell found the space in the midfield to touch down before Sam Arnold got a brace. Playmakers JJ Hanrahan and Ian Keatley played well (FT : 33-5).

* Harlequins vs. Wasps : Premiership (The Twickenham Stoop, London)

The Wasps were showing plenty of intent coming into this game with an expansive gameplan and a great passing game. Scrum-half Dan Robson found some space in the midfield and his grubber was gathered by centre Juan de Jongh who scored the good try.

Just after that, Willie Le Roux threw the offload for Thomas Young who touched down. However, centre Kyle Eastmond was sent off for a dangerous tackle as Harlequins came back thanks to Tim Visser. The Wasps were playing with 14 men but managed that well.

Soon in second-half, Aaron Morris tied the game with a try for Harlequins. The Wasps trusted patterns and Thomas Young got a brace before Willie Le Roux added a stunning try. Tom Cruse and Josh Bassett were on the scoreboard to seal the win (FT : 22-44).

* Scotland vs. France : Six Nations (Murrayfield, Edinburgh)

The Six Nations showdown between these two sides did not disappoint. France made a brillant start with winger Teddy Thomas finishing a good build-up and Maxime Machenaud added a penalty. Though, Scotland went through the phases in this game.

Fullback Stuart Hogg created the numbers and winger Sean Maitland scored the try. France threw the ball wide later and were rewarded when Teddy Thomas got the bounce of the ball for his double. Scotland replied with a line from centre Huw Jones, scoring.

With two tries each, the second-half was very scrappy with Greg Laidlaw (Scotland) and Baptiste Serin (France) trading penalties. Nevertheless, Scotland had more intensity towards the end and managed to get the win in front of their home crowd (FT : 32-26).

Conclusion

Following the first two Rounds of the Six Nations 2018, only England and Ireland could still win the Grand Slam. Wales have got one loss but they can still win the competition if they get the results in the other games. Scotland played better this weekend at home.

In the Pro14, the next weekends could show closer standings as the provinces have got some difficulties to keep their momentum. Munster won with the bonus point against Zebre while Glasgow got two points in their draw against the Dragons in Rodney Parade.

Finally, in the Premiership, the Wasps have made a statement, winning away with the bonus point with only 14 players on the pitch. The Six Nations will come back in only two weekends while the Super Rugby will begin soon the next weekend in South Africa.

Super Rugby Coming ! Great Games Coming !

Max.

The Rugby Wrap : Weekend Review (Friday, 02nd, February, 2018 – Sunday, 04th, February, 2018)

 

The Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies scored the opening try of the 2018 Six Nations Championship against Scotland in Cardiff

This weekend was about the Six Nations Championship coming back in the Northern Hemisphere. Considered as one of the greatest rugby competitions at Test level, it was also the moment for the countries involved to build their squad before the World Cup.

Besides, while the Six Nations opening weekend was taking place, the Anglo-Welsh Cup was going on with the Aviva Premiership clubs targeting a place in the play-offs. The Welsh regions did not play badly but they did not manage to remain in the big contest.

Finally, in the Southern Hemisphere, the franchises were beginning their preparation with Super Rugby returning in two weeks’ time. The franchises from New Zealand will be again the favourites to win it but they will not have an easy task and that is for sure.

* Northampton vs. Harlequins : Anglo-Welsh Cup (Franklin’s Garden, England)

The Northampton Saints lined up a very strong XV and they showed it. Building momentum from the start, the team played really well and winger George North crossed for the opening try. Later, Jamie Gibson intercepted and the try was Tom Stephenson’s.

Later, as the Harlequins had no answers, the Northampton Saints relied on their scrum. Fullback Ahsee Tuala stepped and touched down while winger Kisi Pisi concluded a counter-attacking move. The Harlequins got a try just before Half-Time but it was tough.

In the second-half, fly-half Piers Francis added a penalty while the defence was powerful. Winger Ken Pisi got a brace but the Harlequins went through the phases and Joe Merchant scored. However, it was a bonus point win for Northampton (FT : 36-10).

* France vs. Ireland : Six Nations U20s (Chaban Delmas, Bordeaux)

Opening game of this 2018 Six Nations Under 20 Championship, France was hosting Ireland in Bordeaux. Starting with intent and physicality, the French team scored the early points. Romain Ntamack scored a penalty and added a try which he just converted.

Later, the Ireland fly-half Ross Byrne closed the gap but it was not enough as France relied on their forwards pack to score the second try. Just before Half-Time, Romain Ntamack found the space in the midfield and scored a good individual try for his brace.

The Irishmen came back in the second-half, using their kicking game and counter-attacking skills. Paul O’Connell was part of their staff and France had a player binned but reacted. They scored two tries to seal the win and begin the Campaign well (FT : 34-24).

* Wales vs. Scotland : Six Nations (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)

Scotland began really well, keeping the possession and asking questions to the Welsh defence. Settled, though, Wales did not panic and scrum-half Gareth Davies intercepted an Ali Price’s pass. Gareth Davies raced forward and he touched down for the first try.

Wales kept the momentum and played with pace as second-rower Alun-Wyn Jones found the gaps. Going through the phases where most of the players were involved, fullback Leigh Halfpenny crossed the line for his first Test try since 2013 and 1821 days exactly.

Scotland got breakdown issues with John Barclay. Meanwhile, Leigh Halfpenny got a double and Steffan Evans scored the bonus point try. Peter Horne scored a late try for Scotland but Wales won it with Aaron Shingler and Josh Navidi impressing (FT : 34-7).

* France vs. Ireland : Women’s Six Nations (Ernest Wallon, Toulouse)

In this opening Round of the 2018 Women’s Six Nations, one of the fixtures was involving France and Ireland. The two teams could not find their game in the first exchanges though France managed to get a quick try. After, Ireland managed to get the possession.

However, the French team took the better thanks to cross-field kicks. One of them led to centre Jade Le Pesq’s try. Ireland did not find the right strategy as France moved the ball wide. It reached fullback Jessy Tremouliere who dived in the left corner to score a try.

As the game went on, there was less intensity. There were mistakes all the second-half. Niamh Briggs directed things for Ireland but France got bonus point try at 73rd minute. Forward Audrey Forlani flicked a pass for Jade Le Pesq who got his double (FT : 24-0).

* Italy vs. England : Six Nations (Stadio Olimpico, Roma)

The final game of the opening Round of the 2018 Six Nations started on a high intensity. England released all the threats of their backline with George Ford and Owen Farrell combining. Winger Anthony Watson was defining and touched down twice, quickly.

Owen Farrell could not convert both tries from the right touchline as Italy came back when the ball was passed out wide. It reached Tommaso Benvenuti who scored but the English team replied with Owen Farrell concluding a build-up for the third try scored.

In the second-half, it remained pretty close but Italy struggled to handle the pressure. Number 8 Sam Simmonds showed running skills and had a brace. He delivered an assist for wing Jack Nowell who sealed the win with Harry Williams playing well (FT : 15-46).

Conclusion

The opening Round of the Six Nations was really interesting with Wales and England making some statements. The two nations will face at Twickenham next weekend for what should be a fantastic game. It will be tough to call a game like this one, definitely.

Also, about the other Six Nations Championships (U20s and Women), the French teams performed pretty well and the men senior team should take inspiration from them. The youngsters showed plenty of passion while the women were clinical in their display.

Finally, there was also some Anglo-Welsh Cup during this weekend with Northampton Saints securing a place in the Semi-Finals along with Bath Rugby. The Saints lined up a very experienced team and it showed that they are taking the competition very seriously.

Good Weekend ! Great Displays !

Max.