The 2023 6 Nations rugby tournament kicked off at the weekend with two matches on Saturday and one on Sunday.


In the first match, Ireland travelled to Wales to play at the Millennium stadium on Saturday afternoon; they arrived on the back of finishing second in last year’s tournament and heading the Rugby world rankings. However, the Irish had not won in Wales for around ten years. For Wales, their disappointing run of results over the past couple of years saw them sack coach Wayne Pivac to make way for the return of Warren Gatland.

Ireland started strongly and were two tries up within 10 minutes, with James Ryan and Caelen Dorris touching down and Jonny Sexton converting both. They were clinical in all aspects of their play. Wales got three points on the board thanks to a penalty by Dan Biggar, before James Lowe intercepted a Welsh attack and raced three quarters of the pitch, down the touchline, for the visitor’s third try. Sexton scored the conversion and added a penalty before Wales started to get more possession. HT Wales 3, Ireland 24.

After the break, Wales continued where they left off while Ireland could not rediscover their first-half superiority. Liam Williams managed to get over the try line for a converted try for Wales to lessen the deficit; however, it was not until Wales’ full-back was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Sexton, that Ireland scored their bonus-point fourth try from Josh van der Flier with Sexton’s replacement Ross Byrne getting the conversion. Ireland also got another penalty. The last few minutes saw both teams, with many replacements on the pitch, commit a number of errors before the referee blew for full time. Ireland had come away with a bonus-point win; Wales will improve as the tournament progresses.

FT Wales 10, Ireland 34


Scotland had beaten England in their last couple of meetings and had been playing well under coach Gregor Townsend, whereas England had fired coach Eddie Jones and had installed Steve Borthwick who would be in charge of his first England team.

The first few minutes of the match at Twickenham saw both teams finding their feet, with Jones opening the scoring for Scotland after touching down a through-ball and Russell converting. England reduced the deficit when Malins scored similar try; however, Farrell missed the conversion. In a pulsating first half where both sides proved threatening, van der Merwe scored a sensational try for Scotland to extend their lead, with a thunderous, mazy 55-metre run from inside his own half through the centre and slicing open England’s defence. Russell’s conversion came back off the post. A few minutes later, Mailns scored England’s second try, following which Farrell missed his second conversion of the match. However, he made amends with the last kick of the half when he slotted a penalty between the posts. HT England 13, Scotland 12. Game on!

In the second half, both sides gad opportunities but it was England’s Genge who crossed for the fifth try of the match following a great forwards’ move, with Farrell adding the two points with a successful conversion, to extend their lead to eight points. But Scotland were not out of it, with scrum-half White dancing over for his side’s third try. With Russell converting, Scotland were back within a point of England. Farrell got a penalty for England for a 4-point lead, only for Russell to get another three points for Scotland. With just six minutes left on the clock, Van der Merwe crossed for his second try of the game, this time a tremendous team score, to put Scotland back in the lead, with Russell adding the conversion. Scotland had a six-point lead and a try bonus point, but England piled on the pressure in the closing moments; however, they ran out of time and Scotland claimed (another!) Calcutta Cup with a win in London. That was a wonderful advertisement for the game and, similar to the earlier game, the home side (England, in this case) will improve as the tournament progresses.

FT England 23, Scotland 29


With France the holders of the 6Nations crown, the first game of their defence was in Rome where Italy desperately wanted, and needed, to get their tournament off to a winning start.

In the first half, France came flying out of the blocks and second-row scored a try within five minutes after Flament blocked a clearance and touched down himself. Allan reduced arrears to four points with a penalty, but France got their second try within 20 minutes when full-back Ramos fell on a loose ball behind Italy’s goal line. Ramos himself was on kicking duties and, while he succeeded with the first conversion, he missed with the second. Italy were enterprising but were making mistakes, trying to find sone fluidity. Allan scored a second penalty and were keeping France within sight. France’s out-half Ntamack then found Dumortier with a cross-field kick for him to score with ease out wide. Italy were trying to play fest rugby with crisp passing and running onto the ball. On 32 minutes, from a scrum in the French 22, they played the ball out wide to lightning-quick full-back Capuzzo who touched down in the corner for his 6th try in eight matches for Italy. Allan could not get the conversion. Italy pressured the French in the closing minutes of the first half and got another three points from a penalty with the last kick of the half. HT Italy 14, France 19. France’s technical superiority and clinical precision was being tested by Italy’s passion and creativity.

In the second half, France got an early penalty and Italy were still reluctant to commit to the tackle. However, when the Italians got ball in hand they started to move forward. On 51 minutes, the game suddenly changed as Italy were awarded a penalty try and France’s Ollivon received a yellow card: it was now a one-point game and France were a man down. Penaud caused panic in the home defence when he ran onto a ball he kicked through himself, but knocked-on over the goal line. Italy’s discipline was improving, in contrast to France’s. Italy were then awarded a penalty and Allan put Italy ahead when the ball dissected the posts. 18 minutes to play. Both teams made a number of substitutions and France’s replacement out-half Jalibert dived over fir a try less than a minute after coming on. Ramos converted and France had a five-point lead. Allan missed a 3-point penalty for Italy. With the clock ticking down, Italy surged forward and threatened the French line, but to no avail. The French held out for their 14th win in a row. But Italy are certainly improving as a side.

FT Italy 24, France 29


The annual rugby tournament opened with a bang this past weekend, with some exhilirating play on the fields of Dublin, London and Rome. While Ireland blew away Wales in the first half, they have shown that they have developed squad depth following some late replacements being called up; and they need to perform for 80 minutes in every game should they dream of lifting the tournament trophy in mid-March. Wales and England, having both replaced their coaches in the weeks leading up to the tournament, will now see that there are no quick fixes and both must be patient. Scotland have continued their form from last year's tournament and Italy have stepped up from their autumn win over Australia. Maybe the biggest question mark hangs over France - although they eked out a win in Rome, was it just a wobble they experienced, or are there other, more deep-rooted issues to address?

Next weekend sees France travel to Dublin in a match that some are calling the championship decider (the other four teams would surely have something to say about that); however, these are the top two ranked teams in world rugby. Elsewhere, Scotland host Wales and England welcome Italy. With Scotland having home advantage, they could have two wins from two, with Wales winless after two games. Meanwhile, England should improve under Steve Borthwick to set them up for their next games.