Ireland thwarts Warren Gatland’s return, France extend their winning streak, and Scotland complete the hat-trick of Calcutta Cup victories over their traditional opponents, England.
A spectacular comeback was one of the highlights of the opening weekend of the 2023 Six Nations.
What are the main talking topics from the competition’s first round, then?
Will Scotland build on their impressive victory over England?
Scotland’s campaign got off to an incredible start with a third straight victory over England in a fantastic game at Twickenham.
Duhan van der Merwe completed a multi-phase team move in the 75th minute to secure a well-earned 29-23 victory after scoring a magnificent solo try earlier in the game.
Similar to last year, the task for the Scots is to build on that success by defeating Wales in their upcoming match.
Since 1996, when the competition was known as the Five Nations, they have not won their opening two games. This time, though, they play Wales at Murrayfield rather than Cardiff.
Sam Warburton, a former captain of Wales, predicted that Scotland would win in a rugby union debate on the BBC’s Rugby Union Daily. They are no longer bullied. They should aim for four wins this championship since they will be devastated if they only manage three.
Former Scotland captain John Barclay added: “I’m not predicting they’ll win the title, but this bunch has underperformed and to go two from two would be a major step in the right direction.
The talk in the camp is that they need to win again the following weekend as there is a growing maturity there.
Weekend review on the Rugby Union Daily podcast with Barclay and Warburton
Scotland’s fragments come together to create a sensation.
England under Borthwick are showing indications of improvement, but there is still plenty to do. In November, when Eddie Jones was fired as coach, England was soundly defeated by world champions South Africa at Twickenham.
Despite the loss, the team led by new head coach Steve Borthwick showed enough promise for future success.
Ellie Genge laboriously carried, rucked, and scuffed before bursting over for England’s third try, while Max Malins made an impression with his maiden tries for England on the international arena.
With Finn Russell directing play from midfield, they may not have had the same clinical edge as Van der Merwe and will need to strengthen their defense after allowing four tries.
There are many things to improve, with Borthwick’s biggest conundrum maybe being whether to continue playing both Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell or to play just one of the two and add a ball-carrying center.
Former England winger Ugo Monye said, “I don’t think they are the reason England lost.” “I’m trying to view it positively because of the astronomical development and potential when they are united.
They approach the game fundamentally differently and play it differently as well, but how can they come together as a team to bring out the best in everyone else?
“It is a puzzle. You aren’t seeing these two elite athletes reach their full potential.
Autumn saw England “weren’t good at anything,” according to Borthwick
According to a Matt Dawson column, “Borthwick has boxed himself in with Farrell.”
Ireland’s dominance casts a cloud over Gatland’s comeback.
Warren Gatland led Wales to three Grand Slam victories during his first tenure as manager, but the Kiwi was unable to get his team off to a winning start upon his return.
However, a ruthless Ireland team that came into Cardiff as the top team in the world handed the hosts their worst home loss in the competition since 2001.
At halftime, the visitors were in command by 24 points as hopes for Gatland’s return swiftly faded.
Everyone, I believe, was looking for a romantic comeback, according to Warburton. I somewhat identified with their group and hoped for a smash-and-grab.
“Reality set in over how amazing Ireland is. Ireland has been growing, and they aren’t in town to play games. A professional performance was given.
Will Gatland give that team another shot against Scotland the following week, or will he switch things up and start some fresh players?
During his previous 12-year tenure as Wales’ head coach, Gatland never lost against Scotland, but this record may be in jeopardy given the disparate results of both teams on opening weekend.
unrest in Welsh rugby as Scotland waits
Are the French prepared for what may be the Grand Slam final versus Ireland?
The Grand Slam championship game between Ireland and France, two of the strongest teams in the world, was scheduled for Saturday, February 11, which many people had penciled in as the date.
After Tommaso Allan’s penalty gave Italy a two-point lead against the reigning champions France with 18 minutes remaining in Rome, there might have been a different buildup.
However, Matthieu Jalibert, who had been a substitute, sniped over to give his team a bonus-point victory and extend France’s winning streak, which includes the Grand Slam from a year ago, to 14 games.
Given that they gave up 18 penalties in Rome, the highest ever by a team managed by Shaun Edwards in 20 years, French discipline may turn out to be their Achilles’ heel in Ireland.
Warburton stated, “I wouldn’t judge France based on today’s game.” “You have three or four games over a season where your emotional state is at its best. The game against Italy will be one of those, but France won’t get there. A titanic conflict will take place.
Ireland always seems like the better team in the first round, continued Monye. They have the unity that every team craves, but other teams arrive unprepared and are constantly looking to better.
“Ireland are essentially dressing up Leinster’s team in an Ireland jersey and playing the same style. I wasn’t shocked they completely destroyed Wales given the complexity of their approach and their understanding.
Italy will bring their aggressive style to Twickenham.
Italy may have won the unwelcome Wooden Spoon in the previous seven years, which is awarded to the team that comes last in the competition, but their new aggressive zeal must be praised.
They repeatedly spilled the ball forward while attempting to offload against France when they tried to move the ball wide from deep inside their own 22.
However, their approach allowed them to defeat Australia for the first time last autumn, and in back Ange Capuozzo, they have a finisher who can equal their effort.
On Sunday at Twickenham, expect flair rugby as both teams hope to showcase their offensive dynamism.
Italy will think they have a chance wherever they go, Monye added. They play so freely and with a bounce starting in 2022. This is a significant advancement.