Six Nations: The finest, funniest and most memorable rugby quotes from the Championship

·14-min read
Funny, serious and memorable; we have picked out the best rugby quotes from the Six Nations from the players, coaches and pundits. Credit: Alamy
Funny, serious and memorable; we have picked out the best rugby quotes from the Six Nations from the players, coaches and pundits. Credit: Alamy

Planet Rugby takes a look back at the finest, funniest and most memorable quips, remarks and outbursts from the 2023 Six Nations.

Duhan van der Merwe’s stunner against England

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“It was incredible, wasn’t it? It reminded me of when, for everybody of a certain age, you played Jonah Lomu Rugby, and suddenly one person can go quicker.” (Gregor Townsend’s on Duhan van der Merwe’s try against England

“I’ve obviously seen it a couple of times,” he told BBC Sport. “I still can’t believe I’ve done that. I giggle when I watch it, but obviously for me personally, it’s my best try I’ve ever scored. Looking back at it, just absolutely buzzing.” (Van der Merwe’s reaction to the try)

Dan Biggar eats his words

“Scotland played well last week against England, but according to you guys, they are the best team around, aren’t they? We will have to see how they go on Saturday and see if they can back it up. The pressure is all on them. They are red-hot favourites, the best team in the tournament, so we will see how they go (on) Saturday. We don’t seem to get any credit, and other teams seem to get a lot of praise for probably not quite the success we’ve had, but that’s how it goes.” (Dan Biggar before Wales clashed with Scotland, ultimately falling to a 35-7 defeat)

Milestone reactions

“It has been a long road and a tough road, but it is something I am very proud and honoured to have achieved. Hopefully, there are a few more in me. I hope Shane is sweating, but there is a lot to go.” (George North after becoming Wales’ all-time Six Nations try scorer)

“In this day and age, with the amount of rugby, these boys play, to have the motivation and energy he has to represent Scotland, he’s a special player and a special human being. The pride he has for representing Scotland is brilliant to see. It’ll be a huge achievement for him and well deserved.” (Steve Tandy ahead of Staurt Hogg’s 100th Test cap for Scotland against Ireland)

 “Toby has been a fantastic servant for Welsh rugby. Even though he’s reaching 100 caps, he’s still pretty quiet, but he’s incredibly well-respected by the players for what he’s achieved. I remember in the early years, he was just a constant, and he became absolutely world-class in terms of his performances. There’s a lot of things that people don’t see in terms of his ability to read the game – he’ll run support lines that people don’t see. You see that when you’re going back through the videos, and there have been times where he’s been on the end of a pass and scored tries.” (Gatland on Taulupe Faletau ahead of his 100th Test match for Wales)

Kieran Crowley SLAMS officials

“Oh bloody oath, god, I mean, how can one team give away 17 penalties, not be warned once five or six of those on their own line. Then not awarding of a penalty try to us in the first half. There was clearly that number 10 was offside when he tackled. Then they didn’t even review the two guys that were cleaned out in the backfield when we broke. So there’s a lot of bloody frustration.” (Kieran Crowley criticised the performance of the officials following his side’s 29-17 home loss to Wales)

James Lowe ahead of France Test

 “They’re a world-class side; they’ve shown it for a good couple of years. Their nine-10 combo (Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack) is pretty scary; their back-rowers are world-class, a midfield that’s very dangerous and a back three that would put the sh***ers up most teams.” (James Lowe ahead of the clash with France) 

Freddie Steward’s pants

“I turned around and felt them go down and heard a big roar behind me. I thought ‘just carry on!’ and tried not to think about it.” (Freddie Steward speaking to BBC Sport after his pants fell down against Wales) 

Reaction to England 10-53 France

“The selection of Marcus, to me, that’s always the political selection. A player has been out of form, hasn’t quite done well at Test level, and then he plays one or two club games, and he’s a hero.” (Eddie Jones said about Marcus Smith on his podcast after the tournament)

 “I’ve been coming to Twickenham since I was 20, so I realise. It’s a very moving moment. We played well, just as we wanted. We wanted to do that. We didn’t know how, but we wanted to do that. This venue, this context, it’s not luck. We have been working with these players for four years. There is a lot of confidence. At the start of the tournament, we weren’t happy, but we were in the truth of it. The players wanted to produce the match; they produced the match.” (A tearful Fabien Galthie said after France’s record victory at Twickenham)

“We’re incredibly disappointed. Immense credit to France – their power, pace and class showed. It shows where the gap is. No one is under any illusions about what we need to do. We’ve been pretty upfront about that throughout.” (Steve Borthwick)

“It’s amazing to win in this Twickenham stadium and to be back for France after my knee issues; it’s been 18 years since our last win, and then we produced a performance like this; it was beyond our wildest dreams. Of course, we wanted to win today, and we had confidence that we would, but this result is absolutely amazing for us.” (Francois Cros told Planet Rugby)

“Fans leaving early is tough to take because I can relate to that – I’m a fan myself. I want to apologise because I’m one of them, really. I would be gutted if I’d turned up to Twickenham to see an England team play like that. We are sorry, and we need to make sure that we get better and learn from this experience because it’s clear we have a long way to go.” (Jamie George apologises to the fans.)

Praise for Antoine Dupont

“Dupont is probably in the best form of any scrum-half I have seen. His ability to flick the switch from defence to attack is sensational, really. They have got players across the board that if you allow them time and space, they can make an afternoon very difficult, as we saw at Twickenham. He is deceptively strong, and he has this ability to get out of situations in which you think you have cornered him. Suddenly there is an off-load, and the French get into their flow. He is quite remarkable, and his skill set is phenomenal. I suppose Dan Carter, in his prime with the All Blacks, had a similar influence on games.” (Wales assistant coach Alex King on Dupont)

Sir Clive Woodward blames Eddie Jones

“There is still a fear factor in the England players, a legacy of the Eddie Jones era that will take time for Borthwick to eradicate” (Woodward wrote in a column for the Daily Mail after the defeat to Scotland.)

“It would be easy to put the boot into Steve Borthwick. But this France humiliation is not the fault of the new England head coach. The result merely shows that the Eddie Jones regime led English rugby into big, big trouble in the last three years, with a few one-off wins papering over the cracks.” (Woodward wrote after England’s loss to France)

Willis after scoring against Italy

“Emotion took over a little bit after the try. There was a lot of emotion I feel to play in an England shirt, and I looked up and saw the crowd.” (Jack Willis on his try against Italy after his struggles with injuries.)

Farrell allegiances 

“My grandkids are coming over today as well; we’ll be trying to poach them into our captain’s run tomorrow to see if we can squeeze them to cheer for Ireland. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve told him to bring the jersey, yeah, so we’ll see what he wears on Saturday.” (Andy Farrell on poaching Owen Farrell’s kids – his grandkids – to support Ireland instead of England)

Asked if his children were at the Ireland team run, Owen Farrell replied: “I don’t know, I think he (Andy Farrell) was trying to. I don’t know. Is it? I didn’t know that. I genuinely didn’t know that.”

The England skipper was then asked if he needed to have a word with his kids about where their allegiances lie, where he added: “No, they are a bit young yet. They are just doing as their grandad has told them to. They are staying at their grandad’s house, so I guess it is his rules this weekend so far.”

Mack Hansen

The Ireland flyer was good value on the pitch and off this tournament.

Hansen produced a brilliant blooper when he slipped up and dropped the F-Bomb after the Six Nations win over Italy.

 “We haven’t thought about it that much; it’s been all about this week. But that’s going to be a tough one [Scotland at Murrayfield] away. I haven’t played at Murrayfield yet, so fingers crossed I can make that – oh, f***!” he said as the microphone started to fall.

Then ahead of the Grand Slam decider against England, Hansen said: “I think everybody hates England in general! It’s something I was aware of [before coming to Ireland] for sure. There’s a fair bit of hatred, isn’t there? It’s good, though, because once the game is done, they are good lads like everyone else. That s— happened… how long ago now? But it does add a bit of fire to the game.” 

After the match, he backtracked on his comments, saying: “I don’t actually hate English people for anybody who saw that headline that was spread! I’m just putting that out there – just in case Andy saw it as well.”

Speaking pitch-side at a raucous Aviva Stadium, Hansen said: “I’m going to find it very hard not to swear this week; it is unbelievable! And I think pretty much everybody at the stadium stayed to enjoy this with us, it’s absolutely amazing. I’m pretty much in party mode at the moment. The next thing I’m thinking of is getting some beers down my gullet, enjoying tonight, enjoying tomorrow night, the night after.”

Final assessments

“We tried to prioritise some of those and focus on some of those. We are disappointed because there are games there (in the Six Nations) that we will be good enough to win, but we are not there yet.” (Warren Gatland on Wales’ performances in the tournament)

“If you don’t win all your games, you will look back on the games you lost and wonder how you could have done better, but overall I was really pleased with our togetherness, our intent, our ability to score tries and our ability to come back in games when we’re down. We’ve learned a lot, and we’ll be a better team for this experience. We were determined to finish higher than third. There were so many positives for our supporters, but we know we can be better, and we’re working towards that.” (Gregor Townsend Wales’ performances in the tournament)

“I would love for him to continue. He works incredibly hard. His attention to detail is the best I’ve ever come across in a coach. I think the relationship Gregor’s got with players and the rest of the coaches, it’s the best environment I’ve ever been involved in in the past 12 years. I’d be disappointed to see anything change, but then you understand that everyone goes through their own little cycles about what they want to achieve.” (Stuart Hogg on Gregor Townsend on the BBC Scotland Rugby Podcast)

“I’ve already said that there is a gap (to the top nations). The team is not where it could be, and while we’re judging against teams that have used this four-year cycle tremendously well, that’s not what has happened with England, that’s not the position England are in. I can’t do anything about the past. I intend we will be working really hard to put England in the best position possible, and I’m excited about what these players can do for the World Cup.” (Steve Borthwick on England’s Six Nations)

“I’m 46, and I am grateful, genuinely, to see someone who started his international career at 24, I think, and then getting better every year. Records are there to be broken. I gave it everything when I was playing, and I think it’s very special to have two Irish people there.” (Ronan O’Gara ahead of Sexton breaking his all-time scoring tally)

“I hope that teams are scared of us now. We’re certainly the team to beat. We do have an impressive victory ratio. We’ve only lost once here [in Paris], against Scotland. We started the Six Nations in a lacklustre way, we did as well as we could. With four victories from five in four Six Nations, we have a success rate of 80% in the Six Nations. So it’s very positive if we have to do a purely factual round-up of things.” (France head coach Fabien Galthie)

Grand Slam reaction

“We said from day one that we wanted to win the Grand Slam, and we went about it as a squad. It’s never been perfect, but the game is not like that, so the mental strength of our game and large parts of our game are in a good place. But like I said, there’s a long way for us to go for us to be at our best which is a great sign.” (Andy Farrell after Ireland won the Six Nations Grand Slam)

“We’re creating something special, and we’ve just got to grab it with two hands and go with it. It was an incredible atmosphere. I’ve never ever seen anything like it. It’s up there, top of the ranks. St Paddy’s weekend, Grand Slam, a few guys’ milestones, Josh Van Der Flier’s 50th (cap), Johnny – it could potentially be his last Six Nations. Hopefully not; hopefully, he can come back again. He’s very young, 45 years of age, so he can still go again.” (Bundee Aki)

“I think the next Lions tour, it’s about bringing back the ethos of what’s special about the Lions and making sure that the players really enjoy every minute of it, and the supporters too. I think Andy Farrell would be the perfect guy to do that.” (Tommy Bowe backs Andy Farrell for the British and Irish Lions head coach role in 2021)

“I’m just elated for the boys just to get it over the line because it meant so much to them, especially being here at home, being only the fourth one in Irish history. The first one at home. It’s a special occasion, especially with the weekend that’s been outside of our hotel. We felt a duty that we couldn’t let people down, and I would say there’s a sense of relief to get the job done but immensely proud. Grand Slams are not just won on nights like this; they’re won over the time we’ve been together. We’ve been building to this, and I’m just glad we’ve got the job done.” (Ireland head coach Farrell)

“We’ve won a Grand Slam; it’s pinch-yourself stuff. You couldn’t make it up, really. It is the stuff of dreams. I always wanted to captain Ireland, and this fella (Farrell) asked me to do it. That was probably one of the best days of my life, and then to have this today, even better.” (Ireland captain Johnny Sexton)

“He’s (Sexton) been saying all week this is what dreams are made of. It doesn’t come around that often. And it’s unbelievably fitting that, in my opinion, the best player ever to play for Ireland is able to sign off on a Grand Slam, on St Patrick’s Day, in front of his own crowd. There are a lot of stars that have aligned over the course of the last eight weeks and come together this evening.” (Farrell on Sexton)

READ MORE: Six Nations: Seven moments that took our breath away, including creating history and solo brilliance

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