A 2021 Six Countries many feared could well perhaps be a sterile spectacle on fable of being performed fully at the support of closed doorways attributable to the coronavirus pandemic, ended in thrilling model on Friday.
Wales maintain been crowned champions after lone final title challengers France suffered a last-gasp 27-23 defeat by Scotland in Paris — a match postponed from last month by a Covid-19 outbreak within the French camp.
Six Countries report card
Beneath AFP Sport assesses the performances of all six groups in a excellent tournament.
Even supposing they maintain been neglected out on a Immense Slam in a last-ditch 32-30 defeat by France last week, four wins from 5 was a consequence few would maintain forecast for Wales.
They came into the tournament having won appropriate three out of 10 matches in 2020 under coach Wayne Pivac.
Wales had their lucky breaks — three of their Six Countries opponents had a participant despatched off and referee Pascal Gauzere admitted after their 40-24 buy over England he had erred in awarding two Welsh tries.
However Wales, led by used lock Alun Wyn Jones, additionally demonstrated an spectacular potential to preserve their composure within the closing stages of tight video games.
Arguably the most thrilling team within the tournament, an incapacity to seal victory when forward behind on trace France expensive in defeats by England and Scotland.
However those reverses could well perhaps but provide precious classes for a youthful facet featuring indispensable individual scrum-half Antoine Dupont as France continue to provide in direction of a 2023 World Cup on dwelling soil.
Ireland finished a tournament of blended fortunes with a 32-18 buy over England — their most productive performance since Andy Farrell took over as head coach after a disappointing 2019 World Cup.
Doubts had been expressed about whether or now not skilled half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton is most likely to be as influential in years past however the duo looked at their most productive in opposition to England, even though concerns remain about Ireland’s energy extensive.
A Six Countries that started with Scotland’s first buy over England at Twickenham in 38 years and their first in opposition to France in Paris in 21 years unruffled saw the Sad Blues extinguish fourth no topic those landmark outcomes.
The Scots exemplified the experts and cons of a Six Countries with out fans at grounds — it made playing away from dwelling more uncomplicated but it additionally meant they maintain been denied their standard passionate enhance at Murrayfield throughout slim dwelling defeats by Wales and Ireland.
Every of those reverses owed grand to self-inflicted errors and, for the entire resolve they showed on the road, Scotland maintain been left with a sense of what could well perhaps need been.
England coach Eddie Jones was left facing an uncertain future after his reigning champions finished a lowly fifth.
England maintain been too in general out belief and out-fought as they gave away a slew of penalties, with defeats by Scotland, Wales and Ireland which draw they’d lost to all three Celtic nations within the identical Championship season for the first time since 1976.
Jones is supposed to spend England to the 2023 World Cup but he’s believed to maintain a fracture clause in his contract.
The stubborn Australian will hope it’s a case of 2018 in every single build apart all once more.
He oversaw a fifth-location extinguish within the Six Countries that twelve months to boot sooner than taking England to the 2019 World Cup closing, even within the occasion that they maintain been then overwhelmed by South Africa.
Italy, all too predictably, finished backside and winless.
The Azzurri maintain now gone 32 Six Countries matches with out a victory within the tournament, a urge courting support to 2015, and they ended his version with a parts incompatibility of minus 184 — the worst in Six Countries historical past.
Match chiefs appear to don’t maintain any curiosity in introducing promotion and relegation, so the hope for Italy must unruffled be that talented younger gamers comparable to half-backs Stephen Varney and Paolo Garbisi are now not permanently scarred by their skills this twelve months.