The first round of the 2024 Six Nations Championship lived up to its reputation as a drama-filled display of top-tier rugby. If this opening gambit is anything to go off, the rest of the tournament is poised to make a few splashes.
France vs Ireland
Friday saw defending Grand Slam champions Ireland make a significant statement by thrashing France 38-17 at home in Marseille. This was their biggest-ever win in France. This victory was especially notable as both teams were looking to rebound from disappointing World Cup quarter-final exits without key players like Antoine Dupont and Johnny Sexton. While France seemed unsure of themselves, Ireland hit the ground running.
Italy vs England
England, under the leadership of Steve Borthwick and amidst an injury crisis, narrowly defeated Italy 27-24 in Rome. This was the most points The Azzurri have ever scored against England and their narrowest margin of defeat (they’ve never beaten England before).
Despite Italy outscoring England in terms of tries, George Ford’s 17 points from the tee were crucial for England’s victory. However, England fans were expecting much more from Borthwick, who can no longer use the excuse of being thrust into a major tournament with months to prepare.
Wales vs Scotland
The round concluded with a tantalising match in Cardiff, where Scotland edged out Wales 26-27. Scotland managed to hold on for a win despite a strong comeback attempt by Wales, securing their first victory in the Welsh capital in 22 years. However, after a last-minute disallowed try and conceding 26 points and 16 penalties in the second half, Scottish fans and players left feeling strangely deflated after this historic win.
How does the table look?
These results lead to Ireland topping the table with 5 points, followed closely by England and Scotland, both with 4 points. Wales, Italy, and France are positioned fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, with Wales securing 2 bonus points despite their loss.
The first round’s outcomes have set the rugby newswires alight, and promise an exciting tournament ahead, with the away teams— Ireland, England, and Scotland—securing victories in their opening matches. Ireland’s performance against France was particularly impressive, leaving the question of who will stand in their way as they look to claim consecutive Grand Slams? Saturday also showcased why you should never count your egg-shaped balls before they’ve hatched in the Six Nations. Italy showed a defiant performance against England and Wales almost made the comeback of the century against Scotland.