So the Six Nations has drawn to a close with Wales emerging as Grand Slam champions; and, ultimately, it would only be the blindest spectator who would deny that their win was fully deserved.
A 16-9 victory over France completed Wales’s flawless tournament that saw them comfortably defeat pretty much every team. The one side that Wales struggled against was England. Looking back to BBM magazine issue #644, our preview of the tournament had Wales coming out on top (yay us), but damn were we wrong about England.
Of Interim coach Stuart Lancaster’s decision to get rid of the old guard and focus on youth, the words “perhaps this team will click immediately and sweep all before them…but a team stripped of so much experience so rapidly stands a good chance of faltering and they probably won’t” may have been written. Yeah, turns out they did click immediately. Not quite sweeping all before them, but 4 victories from 5 – and their only loss to Wales coming thanks to the brilliance of Scott Williams five minutes from the end – shows that Lancaster is almost definitely the man to be given the full time job as England coach. There were some shaky moments against Italy, but there was far more good than bad throughout the Six Nations, and England ended an excellent tournament with a dominant 30-9 victory over Ireland.
As for the rest, Ireland and France finished in mid-table, with 5 points. Neither team shamed themselves, and they had their great moments too, but they were just unfortunate to run into a newly focussed England team who’ve found the secret formula for top performance (i.e. not getting shit-faced during a tournament).
Then we get to the other two, as Scotland claimed the Wooden Spoon with a 13-6 loss to Italy. Italy pretty much lived up to expectations, but what can we say about Scotland? We go back to BBM magazine issue #644, where we described Scotland as the “team looking to justify SRU Chief Executive Mark Dodson’s bold claim that Scotland is looking to win the 2015 World Cup”.
We’ll just let you ponder that.
By Peter Simpson