This year’s Six Nations tournament has been very special.
After the previous two Covid-affected campaigns, it’s been great to have the iconic stadiums crammed with passionate fans again, watching the Northern Hemisphere’s leading rugby nations battle it out for the title. And the action on the field has been breathless.
Although France began the tournament as favourites, it was clear that any of the sides (with the exception of Italy), were capable of beating the others on a given day. That has proved to be the case, with rugby fans savouring the skill, passion and unpredictability on display in some nail-biting encounters.
Today sees the final round of fixtures, with all Six Nations in action on ’Super Saturday’. The action begins at the Principality Stadium, as Gabby Logan presents Wales’ home fixture against Italy. The Welsh entered this year’s tournament as the defending champions, but two defeats in their opening three matches against Ireland and England all but ended their chances of a repeat triumph.
Meanwhile, the beleaguered Italians have finished bottom of the table in each of the last six tournaments, and it will be an uphill battle for them in Cardiff. You have to go back to 2018 for Italy’s last Six Nations try here, and two years ago they suffered a heavy 42-0 defeat, with Josh Adams scoring a hat-trick.
Rugby fans will then switch over to ITV as Jill Douglas is joined by Sir Ian McGeechan, Rory Best and Brian O’Driscoll to present live coverage of Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. The Men in Green have won the last six meetings between the two sides in all competitions, but were made to work hard for a 27-24 victory at Murrayfield last season. Johnny Sexton held his nerve to knock over a late penalty, after a converted try from Hamish Watson brought the Scots level with five minutes remaining.
Finally, Mark Pougatch is joined by Lawrence Dallaglio, Clive Woodward and Jonny Wilkinson to bring the tournament to a close, as Eddie Jones’ England make the trip to Paris to face France in a showdown that has been dubbed ‘Le Crunch’. Fabien Galthié’s hosts have predictably impressed during this year’s competition, beating Italy 37-10 at home in their opening fixture, before a 30-24 win over Ireland and a 36-17 triumph at Murrayfield put them in pole position to secure their first title since 2010. They also prevailed 24-17 when they last played England in Paris in 2020, with captain Charles Ollivon scoring two tries. However, there is hope for Jones’s skilful but inconsistent England side.
They have narrowly defeated the French twice at Twickenham recently – Owen Farrell landed a sudden-death penalty to win the Autumn Nations Cup in December 2020, while Maro Itoje’s try earned a dramatic Six Nations win in London 12 months ago.
With Les Bleus spearheaded by World Player of the Year Antoine Dupont and ace fly-half Romain Ntamack, they will take some beating on their home patch.
But as the nickname of the historic fixture suggests, there will a crackling atmosphere and, like most matches this year, it is a tough one to call.
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