5 things we learned from this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations action

Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent
·3-min read

An absorbing round two of the Guinness Six Nations produced wins for England, Wales and France.

Here, the PA news agency examines five things we learned as the Championship nears the half-way stage

May Day….again

A very rugby-like debate over whether the try should have stood started almost immediately – was it a legitimate dive for the line or an illegal leap over the tackle? But, ignoring the dispute over its legality, Jonny May’s extraordinary acrobatics must be appreciated as one the great touchdowns seen at Twickenham. If more evidence was needed, then it confirmed May as one of the game’s deadliest ever finishers.

Agony for Willis

Rugby’s authorities have been urged to re-examine the crocodile roll, the controversial but legal method used by Italy flanker Sebastian Negri to remove Jack Willis from the ruck at Twickenham. Willis’ knee buckled horrifically under the challenge and the rising England star is now facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. The enforcement of laws should improve safety at the breakdown, but this technique remains a source of tension in the game.

Six to five

Italy performed admirably against England, but their six year wait for a Championship win continues
Italy performed admirably against England, but their six-year wait for a Championship win continues (David Davies/PA)

Playing against the most experienced England team of all-time, there was much to applaud about a spirited Italy, who scored their most points in the fixture since 2008. Yet the 80-1 underdogs never went remotely close to causing an upset as they fell to a 29th successive Six Nations defeat. There have been calls for relegation to be introduced but, with Georgia unlikely to provide stiffer opposition, is it time for the Championship to revert to five sides? Take Italy out and it becomes hard-fought competition contested by well-matched teams. It is hard to see how the Azzurri getting thrashed week in, week out aids their development.

King Louis

As Scotland were left to mourn the likelihood of another false dawn as their glorious Calcutta Cup triumph was followed by defeat to Wales at Murrayfield, Wayne Pivac’s men applauded a superb two-try salvo from emerging talent Louis Rees-Zammit. Still only 20, the predatory Gloucester wing has now struck four times in six Tests and is causing justifiable levels of excitement amongst Welsh fans. Lions coach Warren Gatland will be watching his progress closely.

France march on

France showing resilience to guts out a 15-13 victory in Dublin will send shivers down the spines of their title rivals. Inspired by the brilliance of diminutive general Antoine Dupont, they bristle with attacking options, but against Ireland it was their solid foundations that swept them to top of the table. The performance lacked the fireworks of recent wins, but the ability to grind out an ugly result is crucial to any team with aspirations of snatching England’s crown.