The Friday night lights of Cardiff’s Principality Stadium were blazing and the roar of the Celtic crowd resounded deafeningly within the closed roof of the stadium as Wales took on the mighty Irish to kick off the penultimate weekend in the RBS 6 Nations.
A win for Ireland would have seen them face England in the final weekend for a tournament title decider, but Wales had other plans.
The encounter was ferocious in its intensity, and put aside distant memories of the dismal surrender in Murrayfield, with Howley vindicated and marvellous George North’s past brilliance on show once again.
The victory was no doubt crucial for Wales: we may now see a few more red shirts in Gatland’s Lions squad in the Summer, but more importantly, the win guarantees that there will be no pool of death for the upcoming RWC2019 in Japan, as Wales will sit comfortably within the confines of the top 8 world ranking standings.
It was also a great pleasure to meet the Wales and Lions legend, Colin Charvis at our works pre-game festivities. Colin’s anecdotes of life before regional rugby were particularly interesting and amusing! Those were the good old days! Thank you for joining us and for being a sport with my (somewhat unusual and rather nerdy) request for a photo with the SixBiscuit representatives:)
After a promising start for the Azzurri, with the opening try coming courtesy of the legendary Sergio Parisse after a good run by Carlo Canna, the French composed themselves to outwit and out manoeuvre the Italians to secure a convincing win. The Italians’ obvious failings from a tackling perspective (with less than a 50% success rate) could not be ignored, and the performance demonstrated how much further O’Shea’s side has to go before they can be a genuine competitor for the title.
Having said this, whilst talk across Europe is on how Georgia should be welcomed to the fold, let’s not forget that it took France 10 years to secure their first Five Nations win, and 50 to secure their first championship. There shouldn’t be a rush to write off the Italians quite yet…
No one could have expected the catastrophic manner by which the Scots capitulated the Calcutta Cup to the English on Saturday afternoon. The pre-match high hopes of ending a 34 year Twickenham drought for the Scots were ill-placed, the England victory emphatically engineered. It was stuff nightmares are made of for Scotland, losing four key players to injury, but fortunate that Fraser Brown was not shown the red card he arguably deserved.
Man of the Match Jonathan Joseph delighted fans with his hat-trick, and the scoreboard continued to spiral upwards by virtue of the boots of Owen Farrell.
Only Ireland stand in England’s way to secure the tournament’s Grand Slam accolade. No team has won back-to-back Grand Slams since the reign of Will Carling back in the nineties, and an England win will also see them overtake New Zealand in the test match win rate record. Whilst Ireland will be keen to rain on England’s parade, England head to the Aviva stadium with a new found confidence that will surely catapult them to Six Nations glory.
Let the Super Saturday Count Down Commence!!
Although England have already won the title with a week to spare, next Saturday’s Super Saturday should be as thrilling as ever…
12:30 #SCOvITA (Murrayfield) BBC
15:45 #FRAvWAL (Stade de France) BBC
17:00 #IREvENG (Aviva) ITV