Six Nations – Weekend 3

It’s time to start building a fortress. From the Irish Times:

WHEN IRELAND first returned to Lansdowne Road in the autumn of 2010, Brian O’Driscoll spoke for all when declaring Ireland’s need to make the Aviva a fortress. Alas, not helped by the IRFU’s ticketing fiasco, as fortresses go it’s been more akin to the Maginot Line, which the Germans stormed in about a day.

Should be comfortable – Italy can be awkward – but in areas where Ireland are masters of awkwardness.

At Twickenham there, apparently, are more than a few ways to skin a cat. From the Independent:

…..By comparison, an afternoon spent tangling with North sounds positively pleasurable. There has, however, been an ongoing discussion among the England players on the best way to cramp the style of the supersized Welsh backs. Should they be tackled high as a means of preventing the killer offload? Go high on North or Jamie Roberts and there is always the risk of being bounced off, in the way the Austin Healeys and Jeremy Guscotts were routinely swatted aside by Jonah Lomu in the 1990s. Go low? That creates the alternative peril of bringing a mobile and predatory Welsh back row into play.

“It’s a tough one,” Strettle acknowledges. “Ideally, you want to chop them off at the knees or ankles and bring them to the floor. As Brad Barritt [the England centre who plays alongside Strettle at club level] said earlier in the week, they can’t run without their legs. But that’s not necessarily going to prevent the player offloading, because if he falls the right way and has the support, he can do it very effectively off the deck. Rugby is a game that fools you into thinking you’ve done the right thing and then lets you know you’ve done the wrong one when you watch the video. I’ll approach it as I always approach these things. I’ll try to get a sense of what’s happening and do what I think is best at the time.”

In Wales of course it’s the biggest weekend in Welsh sporting history. From the Western Mail:

They say good things come in threes. In the next 48 hours a serendipitous collision of rugby, boxing and football might just make this the biggest weekend in the history of Welsh sport.
Tonight Nathan Cleverly defends his WBO world light-heavyweight title against Tommy Karpency in Cardiff. Tomorrow Cardiff City take on Liverpool in the Carling Cup Final at Wembley. And this afternoon it’s Wales v England at Twickenham.

Wales will set the tone for a sporting weekend with a sense of history. As chronicler of the game Professor Gareth Williams informs me, it is the first time England and Wales are playing each other for the Triple Crown in Twickenham.
Remarkably, Wales have never contested England in England when both teams are bidding for the home nations prize. They’ve done it in Cardiff, most memorably in 1979 – a year that brought Wales a fourth consecutive Triple Crown – but not at HQ.

I’m not really bothered about Cardiff City or Nathan Cleverly but this Welsh team looks super.
And it’s Scotland France tomorrow – the Scotsman quotes the fabulous Gregor Townsend:

“We’ve come very close to winning in three of our last four games,” Townsend said yesterday. “There is disappointment there, but I firmly believe we’ve made a lot of progress as a team.
“The pleasing thing for me is the amount of opportunities we are creating. We have worked a lot on composure, and I think you could see that was improved in the Wales game.
“I was so proud of the players in Cardiff. We shouldn’t be looking for plaudits when we lose, but for large parts of the second half it was a great effort against a team who are now recognised as one of the best in the world and who really came to the fore at the World Cup. We are introducing young players into the side who are really stepping up, so there is real optimism that the wins will come.

Here’s a little something to help you enjoy your weekend:

Click image to open interactive version (via Thomson Holidays).

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  • Greenflag

    Well now that was better- Well done Trimble putting the icing on the cake in the last minute – Expect England to rise to the occasion with the Triple Crown at stake a-tough call – Dewi’s ‘nerves’ on edge no doubt .

  • Mick Fealty

    They are now!

  • What are France and Scotland doing playing at Twickenham? Good game.

  • Greenflag

    A lucky bounce of the ball between them at the end . Congrats to Wales and hard luck England . OK Dewi 😉 Grand slam now in sight . England will be hyped for Ireland game after this performance.

  • lover not a fighter

    Well done Wales even if a bit lucky.

    I thought Halfpenny did very well for Wales especially deputising for Priestland who probably had his worst game for Wales.

    The English replacement scrumhalf had a bit of a shocker.

    Ireland just okay but I am a bit worried about the future.

  • Dewi

    We could have made that a bit easier…

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Really enjoyed the wales game – incredibly physical. Wales fronted up very well – particuarly when a man down. There are no easy away games and to win at twickers, even against a limited English side is a cracking result. halfpenny was superb. Did one of ur centres go off crocked?

    Wales V France would be some decider for the Slam!!!

    Much better display from Ireland although Italy at home is a bit of a banker. Much more ambition and a higher intensity though which was great to see. Another 3 games on the bounce will be a big ask for a limited squad. Great to see Bowe grabbin a couple of trys – looking forward to seeing him back in an Ulster shirt next season 🙂

  • Mark

    Ireland were ok . You always get a game from the Italians for 40 minutes and then they generally fade . Today was no different . It looks like Tommy Bowe may be in line for Slugger’s top try scorer award …..

    The sight of eight or nine desperate English players frantically trying to chase down William’s brilliant kick through was great to see and a clip I imagine will be shown for years to come . As will Williams outstanding Ashton pisstake swallow dive try celebration to capture the triple crown in England’s back yard as a verse of sweet chariots had just finished …. ah but England were unlucky

    Wales answered a few questions about their resilience and as the best side in the 6 nations i hope they win the slam . Worse sides before them have won it and it would be a shame if they didn’t do it . It would also justify Shaun Edwards decision to sign a new contact .

  • Greenflag

    ‘You always get a game from the Italians for 40 minutes and then they generally fade ‘

    They are improving . just before half time at 10-10 the game was up for grabs . Had the Italians had a half decent kicker they could have been ahead . They need to find somebody who can kick penalties between the posts and not closer to the corner flags 😉

    Someday they will beat Ireland . They have beaten Scotland and they gave England a fright in the game in Rome .
    They are I read moving their Internationals to the Olympic Stadium in Rome which will /should increase attendances for future home games and should improve the team’s morale and performance .

  • Dewi

    Scotland had a go but i really like this French team.

  • Mark

    “Had the italians had a half decent kicker they could have been ahead ”

    One of the commentators over the weekend suggested the way for Italy to overcome this problem is to invite an All Black or an Australian to come over and play at club level until such time as they qualify through the citizenship rule . This has been done before in rugby and in many other sports from football / soccer , tennis , golf …the list is endless

    It is a mystery that Italy with a tradition in football spanning 60/70 years cannot find a local to master the art of oval ball place kicking .

    As for France like always it will depend on which team turns up to play Wales. There is isn’t too much between the sides with Wales just having the edge at the moment so if France turn up and Wales aren’t on their game …well anything can happen . You play 5 games in a 6 nations and generally one of those games is a stinker .

    Wales should keep calm , serve their dish cold and they’ll be Champs .