The opening round of fixtures in this year’s Six Nations did not disappoint.
Wales served up a feast of tries to kick things off, the defending champions showing a cutting edge as they thrashed poor Italy 42-0 in Cardiff.
The score was far closer at the Aviva Stadium, though, as Ireland edged out Scotland. New captain Johnny Sexton was the hero for the hosts, scoring all their points in a hard-fought 19-12 triumph. Next up: Wales.
England, meanwhile, got their just deserts following a shocking start against France. Failing to score a point in the opening half of a game in the tournament for the first time since 1988 left Eddie Jones’ side with too much to do in Paris, Les Bleus delighting the home crowd by holding on for a 24-17 win on Sunday.
So, what will be on the menu for the second week? With help from Opta, we whet your appetite for the upcoming games.
42 – 42-0 is @WelshRugbyUnion‘s third biggest win in the #SixNations (67-14 v Italy 2016, 51-3 v Scotland 2014) and the first time they have prevented the opposition from scoring any points in a Six Nations match (3rd time in any match in professional era). Dominant. pic.twitter.com/DcbfmffXwi
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 1, 2020
Ireland v Wales
– Wales have lost just one of their last five Six Nations games against Ireland (W3, D1). However, their solitary defeat in that spell came the last time they travelled to Dublin in the tournament (2018).
– As for Ireland, they have an outstanding home record, losing just two of the last 22 Tests they have played in front of their own fans (W19, D1). Those defeats? Against New Zealand (November 2016) and England (February 2019).
– Wales gained the most metres (563) of any side in last weekend’s opening round, ahead of Ireland (413). Wales also topped the charts for clean breaks (12) and defenders beaten (26, level with Scotland and France).
– Ireland’s Jordan Larmour made the most carries (19) and metres (138) of any player last weekend, while Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny ranked second in both categories (17 carries, 107 metres).
– Josh Adams crossed for a hat-trick against Italy, taking him to 13 tries in Test rugby since the beginning of 2019. That tally is two more than any other player has managed over that same period of time.
Scotland v England
– Scotland are unbeaten in their last two Six Nations matches against England (W1, D1), this after losing seven in a row before that. Not since 1982-1984 have Scotland gone unbeaten in three straight Calcutta Cup fixtures (W2, D1).
– Only once since 2000 have England suffered successive defeats to open a campaign (2005), but they have lost five of their last seven away outings, including the last two.
– England won 17 of their 18 lineouts in the defeat to France, their 94 per cent success rate the best of any side. In contrast, Scotland’s 78 per cent success rate was the worst out of the nations.
– Stuart Hogg beat eight defenders against Ireland, more than any other player in week one. Team-mate Jonny Gray excelled in defence, ending as the joint-top tackler (22, level with Bernard Le Roux).
– Owen Farrell is 20 points away from reaching 900 for England in Test rugby. His highest haul in an international match came against Scotland in 2017, as he landed seven conversions and four penalties to finish with 26.
44 – Maro Itoje hit 44 rucks against France, more than any other player in the opening round of this year’s Six Nations, including a round-high 40 effective rucks. Groundwork. pic.twitter.com/mv2dcpXdwR
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 2, 2020
France v Italy
– France have won 18 of their 20 clashes with Italy in the Six Nations (L2) – scoring victories in each of their 10 home games in that run. They have averaged four tries per game against the Azzurri in the Championship, too.
– Italy hold an unwanted record, having now lost their last 23 Six Nations games. No other side has lost more than 17 consecutive games in Five or Six Nations history.
– France were not flush with possession in the match against England, yet they conceded the fewest metres (224) and clean breaks (6), as well as making the most tackles (182).
– Only England’s Maro Itoje (44) hit more rucks in the opening round of this year’s Six Nations than France duo Gregory Alldritt (43) and Charles Ollivon (37, level with Peter O’Mahony). Alldritt hit the most defensive rucks of any player (25) and slowed the opposition ball down on 16 occasions at the breakdown.
– France are beginning a Six Nations campaign with two successive home games for the first time since 2016, which also happens to be the last time they began with back-to-back victories.