My apologies for missing out a week last week, I'm sure literally nobody missed it!
It's no surprise that the news this week is dominated by the Six Nations kicking off and a few things surrounding the matches.
We'll start with the matches,
Much fancied Scotland were blown away by patched up Wales in the first match, it seemed to be going Scotland's way until Gareth Davies superbly anticipated intercept try seemed to take the wind out of Scottish sails and and they never quite managed to grab a foothold in the game, Wales playing some expansive rugby on their way to a mightily impressive, and largely unpredicted, 34-7 win. If you only watch one highlight of the match, watch the superb finish by Stef Evans.....
Match number 2 saw Ireland travel to Paris to take on the unpredictable French. For 70 minutes, it was a tough watch. Littered with errors and often hugely disjointed, however the last 10 minutes were as nerve shredding as you'll see, firstly, Teddy Thomas scored arguably the try of the weekend, which unfortunately will be forgotten about after the 41 phase, 45 meter, stoppage time drop goal by Johnny Sexton that saw Ireland sneak away with a 13 - 15 victory. How different it could have been had Belleau not missed a relatively easy penalty to move 4 points ahead just before the monster drive by Ireland. We'll get to the HIA controversies later...
The weekends final match saw England travel to Rome, following the shenanigans around the rucks last year, seeing some actual rugby getting played was going to be a bonus, and within 3 minutes, Anthony Watson was at the end of a flowing move that saw England go 5 up almost instantly. The writing seemed to be on the wall, but despite a second Watson try, Italy would not lie down and at half time, it was 7 - 10 to England following a Benvenuti try. More great finishes in the second half coupled with the unfortunately familiar Italian defensive collapse saw England pull clear in the final 15 minutes,running in 7 tries, but some glimpses from Italy that the O'Shea influence is starting to work as they grabbed a second try and having another ruled out just before the floodgates opened. Final score was 15 - 46
Well. Not for the first time, we see controversies regarding French injuries and HIA calls.
I'll make it perfectly clear, Nigel Owens was 1000% not at fault, as he said himself on the pitch, he's not a medical professional so can't overrule someone who is. There's been some hugely misguided comments on social media (Quelle Suprise.....it is the 6 Nations after all) blaming the referee.
Anyway, the incidents themselves.....as I've just assumed everyone know already!
France during the match had 2 players forced off with VERY clear leg injuries, Jalibert and Dupont, the first was subbed off but was called as an HIA check in the hope he could return (he didn't). This stretching of the laws was almost comical, but the second instance could have been one of the most controversial. Antoine Dupont went down under a tackle, his knee clearly buckled, there was no clear and obvious contact with the head. However, in real time, you can hear Owens is informed BEFORE any treatment is given 'HIA'. I assume this was either a touch judge or the TMO, the French 'independent' doctor upheld this and even after repeated requests for clarity on this, Owens, clearly dubious, HAD to follow the doctors advice. Incidentally, the player informed the French medics it was a knee injury.
The HIA being called meant Dupont could be replaced by the previously subbed off Maxime Macheneaud, whereas if the HIA wasn't called, France would have had to see the game out with 14 men and more importantly, no scrum half.
There has since been 2 press releases regarding the incidents, one saying they would be investigated and one saying, erm, that they were ivestigating. More will come to light of this over the next week or so, but France have a bit of previous with using HIA to their advantage, and you have to hope there will be sanctions should they be found guilty.
Not the ONLY Six Nations
There's also been the Women's and Under 20's six nations kicking off this weekend, the Women's results were Wales 18 - Scotland 17, France 24 - Ireland 0 and Italy 7 - England 42 and in the Under 20's, Italy 5 - Wales 27, Scotland 19 - Ireland 20 and England 59 - Italy 17. You probably won't catch too much of either tournament on the TV, so I will try to include the results on here to keep you updated. The BBC usually throws a couple on the red button too, so keep an eye!
The Anglo Welsh cup reaches Semi Finals stages, and I'm not sure many people care. This whole cup is a farce at the moment, with several teams naming nigh on full strength sides against academies. It needs selection guidelines, or scrapping for a proper knock out cup. It's that important to me, I couldn't actually tell you who's in the semi's and I have no intention of researching it. Sorry.
Cardiff Blues may be looking for a new home as the lease on Cardiff Arms Park runs out in 2022 and the region have had an £8 million bid for the freehold rejected. Literally now, the Arms Park is in the Principalities shadow, but if it ends up lost to rugby, it would be a blow. There's bags of history in that stadium and I hope it's rectified soon!
Sale Sharks David Seymour has retired to focus on his business interests and we at #rugbyunited wish him all the best!
Allister Coetzee has been relieved of his duties as South Africa head coach, he always seemed to divide the fans opinions and it's no real shock he's been given the boot, but it's tough to see where the Boks go next. The most succesful coach in South African Super Rugby is now under contract to Gloucester and I'd imagine that'd be an expensive contract to break, but who else is there in the frame? More importantly, who'd want the poisoned chalice of the Bok hotseat?
Thoughts go to both Ben Youngs and Josh van der Flier who both have picked up long term knocks in the opening round of the 6 nations! Quick recovery boys!
We are delighted to announce our end of season dinner! Huge thanks to Aitch and Aitch Bee for instigating this project. It's gonna be a great night with a top guest in Rugby World Cup winner Neil Back!!
Head over to the website for more details! https://www.aitchandaitchbee.buzz/rugbyunited-end-of-season-bash-0906
See you next week!