With three rounds down and two remaining, this weekend of 6 Nations action saw Grand Slam dreams ended but the race for the title thrown wide open as England and Wales put an end to the hopes of Ireland and France respectively. Over in Rome, the relief of the Scottish players and fans was obvious for everyone to see as the visitors edged out a win.
So apart from the obvious, what exactly have the Lovell Rugby team been discussing in the offices following Round 3 of the 6 Nations? Read on as we share our top six spots from the Friday night and Saturday action and remember that you can join the discussions on our Facebook and Twitter sites.
England Wings Not Scoring
In the grand scale of things it is still very early on in the international career of England wings Jonny May and Jack Nowell but the truth is that in three starts, neither have yet to score and ultimately that is their main job. Gloucester’s May came the closest to scoring on Saturday but failed to keep control of the ball, meaning that Brown and Burrell remain England’s top try scorers in the 6 Nations with two apiece.
With Wales duo George North and Alex Cuthbert next up at Rugby HQ, then expect to see plenty of explosive wing action on display as the Lions duo will look to show what it takes to perform at the highest level.
Friday Night is the New Saturday
In the only Friday night action of the 2014 6 Nations, a packed Millennium Stadium saw Wales revive their title hopes in emphatic fashion. Whether it was the electric atmosphere aided by the closed roof or just the passionate home support but either way this was by far the best Wales performance of the tournament and was much needed in response to the previous Ireland defeat.
With an evening game now a permanent fixture on the 6 Nations calendar, 2015 will see the whole competition kicking off with England visiting Wales on Friday 6th February. One for the diary and the perfect way to start your weekend as this is sure to be another epic battle between the fierce rivals.
Tries on the Increase
Statistics don’t lie and after three rounds of action, the average number of tries per game so far is quite an increase on the total for last year. In 2013, the tournament ended with a low average of just 2.47 tries per match, significantly down on the 3.07 and 3.40 of 2012 and 2011 respectively. In 2014 the figure currently stands at 3.11 and with the fixtures ahead it looks highly likely this could well increase come the end of the tournament.
Whilst on the subject of try scoring, last year saw Cuthbert lead the way with four in total and only four other players crossing the line twice but this year already six players have two to their name. It’s anyone’s guess as to who will be the top try scorer come the end of the competition as so far we have seen 22 different players adding five points.
Down to the Wire
This year’s competition looks like once again going to the final round of matches as four countries are divided only by points difference. In the next round of action, then the crunch match is between England and Wales whilst on the final day France host Ireland in the last and possibly decisive game of the whole competition. Last year it was winner takes all in Wales and expect even more intensity when the hosts England seek to exact revenge whilst also seeking to claim the Triple Crown for the first time since 2003.
On paper Ireland hold the slight advantage with a superior points difference and face Italy at home next but the general consensus in the Lovell Rugby office is that whoever emerges victorious from the England v Wales clash will win the overall 6 Nation title.
Eyes are on Owen Farrell
There is no disputing the kicking and general play of England’s fly-half but he is gaining a rather unwanted reputation, with a fine line between arrogance and confidence. Against Scotland a fortnight ago Farrell was the subject of attention following an unnecessary push after the ball was thrown away and against Ireland on Saturday he was extremely lucky not to be sin-binned for a late and deliberate shoulder charge on Conor Murray.
Opposing teams will be paying close attention to the fact that it doesn’t take much to rattle Farrell and for further proof check out how Louis Picamoles dealt with the situation for France last year. Expect the referees to be looking closely at the England man in the remaining two matches as in the days of modern technology nothing goes unnoticed.
Two interesting records, one rather more impressive than the other, are on course to be broken come the end of the competition. At present the record for least points conceded in a 6 Nations tournament belongs to England back in 2003, with a miserly 46 but with two games to go Ireland are only on 22 and need to concede an average of twelve points or less a game to equal or beat the total.
Scotland on the other hand could well claim the unwanted record for least points scored throughout the 6 Nations, currently held by Italy with 42 back in 2004. Although Scotland only need sixteen points from their remaining two fixtures to surpass this, the task is not as easy as it seems considering they have only scored two tries so far this year and still face France and Wales.