Sunday, 14 March 2010

Six Nations? How do we count six?

I can’t say it too often – the Six Nations rugby tournament is the most exciting sporting event of the year. But in 2010, there isn’t a six-nation contest – there are five nations bumping along the bottom, generating entertainment only because they’re so much of a muchness that the games tend to be tight and the suspense is maintained until the end. And then there’s one world-class side.

A measure of the mediocrity amongst the five also-rans is that Italy, the weakest side in the tournament since they joined, were made to look like real contenders by Ireland, England and Scotland. In fact, Scotland even managed to get themselves beaten (ironic as they then extracted a draw from England). Today, the only nation in the tournament that seems to be worth its place, France, made Italy look ordinary again, beating them 46-20.

Next week France just need to beat England in Paris to complete their full house of victories over all the other sides and take the grand slam. Might they be stopped? I can’t imagine it happening. If France have a weak point at all, it was revealed when they took their foot off the gas at the end, letting Italy score two tries in the last few minutes. Of course, France were already 33 points ahead by that time – if England have to let them get that kind of lead before they start scoring tries against them, then the French grand slam will be safe anyway.

And the secret of France’s success? As they say in rugby, they keep ball in hand. For reasons that escape me, the other sides have been kicking the ball to the opposition instead of keeping hold of it and running. Seems obvious enough doesn’t it? You can’t score if you haven’t got the ball. So my question to the management at Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy and most forcefully England, is – why do you keep giving it to the other side?


Mark Reynolds said...

I would think with a French wife, an Italian birth and an English accent, you have a 50/50 chance of "your" team winning in any given year, no?

David Beeson said...

Sadly, there's more than just the accent to the English bit, and at the moment a talent for international rugby isn't a striking English characteristic...