The 6 Nations is one of the best rugby tournaments in the world and has produced some classics over the years. Here are 7 of them.
Seven of the Best Matches to Grace the 6 Nations
The 6 Nations is a rugby tournament that all rugby fans look forward to. It takes place every year during February and March and involves England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy. The teams play each other once and whoever has the most points at the end is declared the best team in Europe. Over the years there have been some titanic matches that those who watched them will not forget in a hurry, and below we are going to take a look at seven of them.
Wales 15 Ireland 17, 2009
Going into the final round of the 2009 tournament, Ireland needed a win against Wales to claim the Grand Slam, but they knew that they were going to have a difficult game in Cardiff. The match was a close and physical one with Wales picking up points courtesy of Stephen Jones’ boot, while Ireland needed to rely on the Brian O’Driscoll’s brilliance and a great try from Tommy Bowe. With little time left on the clock, Jones knocked over a drop-goal to give Wales a 15-14 lead, but a couple of moments later Ronan O’Gara did the same to give Ireland a 2 point lead with just a few minutes left. There was more drama to unfold when Wayne Barnes awarded Wales a penalty just inside Ireland’s half, but Jones’ effort, to the delight of Ireland and their fans, fell a meter short. This was Ireland’s first Grand Slam in 61 years.
There were probably plenty of Ireland fans who were doubly happy with that missed penalty as they had money on Ireland to win the Grand Slam. I was at the Millennium Stadium that day and was one of the fans that had put money on an Irish Grand Slam that morning. After the game, I got talking to a random Irish fan about the match (us rugby fans will talk to anyone), and he told me that he had put €50 on Ireland winning the slam that morning, and that he had won a nice profit of €55, that he was now going to spend at some of the best pubs in Cardiff. I had also placed a €50 bet, but made €40 profit from it, so I naturally asked where he got such good odds from and he told me about a site called betinireland.ie. I now make use of this site to take advantage of some of the best betting odds around.
France 18 Wales 24, 2005
Once again, Stephen Jones was involved in this game against the French. Les Bleus had a 15-6 lead at the half-time interval and looked pretty comfortable, but a brace of tries from Martyn Williams in the first 5 minutes of the second half got the Welsh back into the game. Dimitri Yachvili and Jones shared penalty points, and then Jones kicked over a drop goal with about five minutes to go, meaning that the French had to score a try to deny the Welsh their first Grand Slam in nearly 30 years. They failed to, and Wales were delirious.
Italy 34 Scotland 20, 2000
Italy were added to the tournament in the year 2000 to make it the 6 Nations, and in their very first match they pulled off a remarkable victory over Scotland at the Stadio Flaminio. The player of the match was Diego Dominguez as he scored all but five of the points that Italy scored that day – 6 penalties, 3 drop-goals, and a conversion. Many thought that this was just the beginning for Italy, but it has not transpired to be so. They regularly finish bottom of the table, with lots of points being scored against them. However, they have managed to beat every team, apart from England, at least once.
Wales 31 Scotland 24, 2010
Thanks to the boots of Dan Parks and Chris Paterson, it seemed that Scotland were on their way to a shocking win at the Millennium Stadium. However, with just five minutes left on the clock, the Welsh decided that this was not going to be the case. In this tiny amount of time, Leigh Halfpenny got a try, Stephen Jones scored a penalty, and then Shane Williams topped it all off by scoring the winning try in front of an ecstatic home crowd.
Ireland 6 England 42, 2003
In the 2000 and 2001 editions of the 6 Nations, England fell short of a Grand Slam thanks to losses against Scotland and Ireland in the last match of the tournament. However, they were not to be denied in 2003 as their captain, Martin Johnson, set the tone for the game before the first tackle had been made. The Irish usually line up on the left because they believe it to be their lucky side, but Johnson lined his team up there. He was asked to move, but he declined. This caused more controversy because it meant that Ireland’s president had to step onto the grass and not the red carpet that was laid out. Whether this had any effect on the Irish players cannot really be proven, but England went on to destroy Ireland that day and claim the Grand Slam, with Jonny Wilkinson being the standout performer. I was in the crowd that day as I used to live in Dublin, and it was once of the worse performances that I have seen from an Irish team. However, it that English team was on another level as was shown when they won the Rugby World Cup in Australia later that year, thanks to a drop goal in extra-time from Wilkinson’s boot.
Italy 22 France 21, 2011
This was Italy’s last game at the Stadio Flaminio before moving to the Stadio Olimpico, and boy did they give it a good send off. With 50 minutes on the clock the French had a 12-point cushion thanks to tries from Vincent Clerc and Morgan Parra, and given their record, the game looked lost for the Italians. However, with 60 minutes on the clock Andrea Massi scored in the corner and Mirco Bergamasco converted to bring them back into the game. A few minutes later, Bergamasco cut the deficit to just two points. A penalty apiece left the score at 19-21 with 10 minutes to go, and Italy took the lead via another Bergamasco penalty with just 5 minutes left. The Italians held on for one of their biggest wins in the 6 Nations.
England 55 France 35, 2015
With Ireland and Wales having won their final matches, England went into this game knowing that they needed to score 26 points if they wanted to walk away with the title. At one stage, the French were winning 15-7, meaning that it looked like the title was easily heading Ireland’s way, but England decided to give the Irish a bit of a scare and went on to win the match 55-35. This was the most points the English had ever scored against the French, but their brave effort was in vain as they fell 6 points short of the Championship.