Monday, 17 March 2014

The 2014 Six Nations: A Summary

by Alex Quarrie-Jones


Brian O'Driscoll
Once again we have a triumphant victor, a smarting runner-up and Italy. The final match of this year’s Six Nations Tournament deserved to be won by Ireland, as did the whole tournament, in a roaring victory that would have been a Grand slam had England not denied them a few precious points in an earlier game. Ireland was also the most fitting team to win as their embattled captain, Brian O’Driscoll, the most capped player in Rugby Union history, retires from the sport this year after 15 years' playing.

The whole tournament was a close call, with a clear winner not fully emerging until the last few games. In fact, if last year I was asked who would win this year, I would have been hesitant to answer Ireland as their performance in the 2013 tournament was lacklustre, even losing to Italy in their final game 22-15. Yet, they have courageously powered through to a smashing victory that has raised the hopes of the team and the country for the prospects in next year’s Rugby World Cup, which will be held across England and Wales.
The tournament started with a characteristically close win for France against England: 26-24 respectively, which for the French was an excellent result as they actually came last in the previous year’s tournament. Wales then confronted Italy and won 23-15 with Ireland also rounding off the weekend by winning 28-6 against Scotland. England then redeemed themselves with a 20-0 win against Scotland at the Scottish home ground, Murrayfield, while Ireland continued their winning streak by firmly beating Wales, who had won the tournament 2 years consecutively before 2014, with the final score at 26-3. France also scored 30-10 against Italy in the same weekend.

The fortnight break seemed to affect the previously strong teams as Wales beat France 27-6 and England just beat Ireland 13-10. The penultimate weekend saw a push by the 3 teams in front: England, Ireland and France. France just beat Scotland 19-17 with a 78 minute penalty securing the fate of the game. England thoroughly beat Wales 29-18 with Wales only remaining on the scoreboard due to the superb kicking ability of Leigh Halfpenny. Finally, Ireland beat Italy with a huge point difference of 46-7. Now the two hopeful sides, Ireland and England, would have to face off on points to decide a winner.
The final three games were scheduled to all be played on Saturday 15th March 2014, with England leading the proceedings by playing Italy. Both the first and second halves were dominated by the English team. Although they were playing on home ground, the Italians could not muster enough force to stop the English juggernaut with the final score coming to 52-11; a solid and point-heavy win for England. Wales then confronted Scotland and hammered them even harder than the English effort against Scotland earlier, with the score resting at 51-3.

However, the scheduling was executed perfectly, as the final game of the entire tournament was to be played between Ireland and France.

Johnny Sexton
The game was phenomenally close, with Ireland not even getting on the scoreboard until mid-way through the first half with a try from Johnny Sexton. Ireland then proceeded to score another try but France snuck in a try and a conversion before the end of the half, leaving the half-time score at 13-12 for France. The second half started well for Ireland with Sexton scoring another try and converting to make the score 13-19. An Irish penalty and a French try meant that by the final 10 minutes the score stood at 20-22. A poor kick by Rob Carney gave France one last chance to make a break for the try line in the last 2 minutes but a forward pass denied them an excellent try opportunity and the final whistle blew just after the 80th minute leaving Ireland with a victorious game and a victorious tournament.

All the teams played excellently and the final results can be easily viewed on the BBC sports website.
I look forward both to next year’s Six Nations and the all important 2015 World Cup          

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