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Six Nations: talking points from a weekend of delight for Wales | Six Nations 2021

1) Wales experience wheel of fortune

Wales’s head coach, Wayne Pivac, admitted his aspect had loved moments of fortune of their opening three victories, however a 12 months in the past they have been on the fallacious aspect of the (English) referee after they misplaced at dwelling towards France, two choices particularly costing them. A characteristic of their marketing campaign is that they’ve been fast to react, coming from behind towards Eire and Scotland, admittedly with a man benefit, and responding after England closed a 10-point lead. After they received the grand slam in 2019, they appeared to dominate opponents and put on them down however this 12 months they’ve been extra opportunistic and faster in thought. Conscious of their limitations, they’ve made probably the most of fortune and as a collective they have been extra organised and conscious than England who have been too sluggish to cope with the surprising.

2) England endure at palms of French referees

Not less than England won’t have a French referee of their subsequent match. 5 of their previous eight defeats have come when an official from the opposite aspect of the Channel has been in cost. Included in that quantity is their 13-6 defeat in Cardiff earlier than the 2019 World Cup when Pascal Gauzere had the whistle and allowed Dan Biggar to take a penalty rapidly when Anthony Watson was nonetheless on the pitch making his method to the sin-bin. Return to the 2015 World Cup and their two group defeats have been managed by Frenchmen as was their subsequent loss, in Eire in 2017. Gauzere received it fallacious when he allowed Biggar to kick a penalty to Josh Adams on the left wing when, on his orders, England have been in a huddle listening to their captain, Owen Farrell, inform them to enhance their self-discipline. And once more when he ignored Louis Rees-Zammit’s knock-on within the build-up to Liam Williams’s strive. England won’t make a grievance to World Rugby, however they need to not must.

3) Self-destruction by means of indiscipline

France provide extra referees to the Take a look at panel than another nation and they’re, usually, constant of their software of the legislation. From the beginning on Saturday, Gauzere was strict on gamers getting into a breakdown from the again, not the aspect, and remaining on their toes. It’s half of the sport’s drive to cut back head accidents by making use of legal guidelines governing the ruck, but it surely was enforced earlier within the High 14 than the Premiership and England misplaced towards Wales primarily as a result of they didn’t react to the way in which Gauzere was refereeing and carried on regardless. Having fought again to 24-24, they self-destructed by conceding three penalties they might not dispute, all in positions the place their line was not underneath risk. Maro Itoje has been touted as a substitute captain to Farrell, however he conceded the primary of them, his fifth of the match. No leaders, no lead. Choices value them 14 points. They misplaced by 16.

Italy suffered another heavy defeat, this time against an out-of-form Ireland.
Italy suffered one other heavy defeat, this time towards an out-of-form Eire. {Photograph}: INA Photograph Company/Shutterstock

4) Smith left to survey Roman ruins

Italy’s head coach, Franco Smith, mentioned after his aspect’s thirtieth successive defeat within the Six Nations that he didn’t anticipate his younger aspect to be aggressive on the high for as much as eight years. An Eire workforce on a three-match shedding run within the event received comfortably and for all Italy’s attacking intent their defence has conceded 12 tries in two matches to 2 cautious sides after the defeat towards England. “We’ve got to crawl earlier than we will stroll,” mentioned Smith, however it isn’t simply the defeats his aspect are slumping to however the method of them: their previous 10 have been by a mean of 30 points and it’s three years since they secured a shedding bonus level. “We’ve got to help these guys as a result of in seven or eight years when this workforce might be aggressive towards everybody.” Because the Six Nations enters a industrial partnership which might be all in regards to the backside line, the query will turn out to be whether or not the event is best off with out a workforce who at all times discuss tomorrow.

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5) Sexton appears to be like to have extra in tank

Johnny Sexton is at an age when his rugby obituary has been penned and each defeat, detached show and damage brings its deadline day ahead. The Eire fly-half drives himself on with the 2023 World Cup his vacation spot. He recognises he must pause at every cease alongside the way in which however with Joey Carbery’s damage disrupting Andy Farrell’s succession plan he stays a central determine within the squad. Having missed the defeat towards France within the earlier spherical, his choice for a match when the query was what number of Eire would win by was thought to be a failure to deal with the long run, however the victory bore his fingerprints as he schemed and coaxed and if he’s taken care of, rested every summer season maybe, he might effectively make it to France. Whether or not his half-back partnership with Conor Murray does is one other matter: Craig Casey’s cameo from the bench in Rome advised it won’t.

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