Six nations rugby reflection round three

Six nations rugby

This article was last updated on February 28, 2024

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Six nations, rugby round 3 Reflection, after wins for Ireland and Scotland, while France draw with Italy

Ireland picked up their third bonus-point win, Scotland made it four wins in a row over England and Italy drew with France after nearly snatching a historic win.

The third weekend of the 2024 Six Nations had everything from drama to individual brilliance.

What are the key talking points from the halfway round of the competition?

England’s attack continues to struggle

Six tries in three games. England’s attack is yet to fire this campaign and with only two rounds left, time is running out.

So much focus has been on replicating South Africa’s blitz defence system under new coach Felix Jones.

But when George Furbank finished off a well-timed strike play for the opening score at Murrayfield, it looked like both sides of the ball were coming together.

However, England ended up lacking fluency in attack and made 24 handling errors to suffer their 4th Calcutta cup loss in a row.

“England’s shape isn’t really clicking and when they are struggling to impose themselves they go back to their kicking game,” former Scotland captain John Barclay stated.

Former Scotland international Johnnie Beattie reckons three-quarters of the Premiership teams are “better than England’s attack”.

“As the game went on and England went through multi-phase it looked alien to them. They don’t look settled or know how to play with each other,” Beattie stated.

Steve Borthwick has now only registered one try bonus-point in his eight Six Nations games.

England next face the well-oiled attacking machine of Ireland on 9 March, who have scored four or more tries in every round so far.

Van der Merwe adds to highlight reel

“I don’t know what it is, I must just be waking up and thinking about scoring tries.”

There’s death, taxes and Duhan van der Merwe tries against England.

The prolific winger has now scored six tries in his last four Calcutta Cup matches. His solo try in 2023 won World Rugby’s try of the year and his second on Saturday may not be too far behind this year.

After picking up the loose ball, he weaved around Ben Earl before accelerating clear to finish spectacularly in the corner.

“It is the only time since retiring that I have watched some rugby and thought I’d liked to have done that,” former England winger Chris Ashton said.

“It gave me a feeling, as it would have for all the kids watching the game, of ‘I’d like to be that person one day’.”

Added to his powerful finish in 2021, Van der Merwe is developing his own highlights reel for the fixture.

“You wouldn’t say his high ball or defensive positioning are his strengths. His strengths are finishing and finishing ridiculous tries,” Beattie added.

“He is just a monstrous athlete. A pure athlete.”

The winger will look to add to his try tally away to Italy on 9 March.

‘Physicality’ putting Ireland ‘scarily clear’

Back-to-back Grand Slams have never been done before in the Six Nations.

It’s a goal Andy Farrell’s team have made a priority since their heartbreaking World Cup quarter-final defeat by New Zealand, and their victory over Wales in Dublin kept them on track.

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton believes Ireland’s increased levels of physicality have sent them “scarily clear” of any other team in the competition.

“Ireland are winning collisions, yes because of good shape, but they are turning on the power now. That is why they have gone scarily ahead of other teams in the Six Nations,” Warburton told

The introduction of 22-year-old lock Joe McCarthy has helped add that extra dimension to Ireland’s forward game.

“They are by far the best team in the Six Nations. It has been a criticism of Leinster in the past and Ireland when they have played the more physical teams,” Warburton said.

Despite suffering their third defeat in a row, Wales’ young side again showed signs of promise.

The shot clock curse

Was introduced in January 2023 to “help speed up the game” and it certainly made Paolo Garbisi hurry.

Italy have never won in France in the Six Nations and as Garbisi attempted to slot the winning penalty in injury-time, the ball fell off the tee.

After a quick readjustment, his rushed attempt cannoned off the post and resulted in a draw.

“He has 12 seconds to reset, get his head settled and he just doesn’t have enough time. It is so desperately unlucky,” Barclay said.

Owen Farrell became the first man in World Cup history to be timed out as he took longer than the allotted 60 seconds against Samoa.

With Garbisi nailing his earlier conversion from out wide for Ange Capuozzo’s try, he looked in the groove to seal the win from a much easier position.

However, the shot clock strikes again.

Are France in crisis?

During last autumn’s World Cup, France dispatched Italy 60-7 and were in complete cruise control.

Roll on only a matter of months and Italy’s Garbisi missed an opportunity to create history for Italy.

South African defeated France have also been hammered by Irin Marseille and were far from convincing in a controversial victory at Murrayfield.

“Only 18 months ago we thought they were going to win a World Cup,” Barclay said.

“How do you go from beating Italy 60-7 to where we are now in nearly losing to Italy? It just seems like the more they are playing, the worse they are getting.”

Jonathan Danty joined Paul Willemse as the second France player to be sent off this campaign, perhaps indicating their frustration.

“France have gone backwards, they look more physical and have emotion, but in attack they were severely lacking,” Warburton added.

France next face Wales in Cardiff on 10 March and will need to improve their discipline if they are to pick up an away win.

Six nations round four recommences on March 4th

Italy v Scotland

England v Ireland

Sunday March 5th

Wales v France

I can’t wait to see the Italian game against Scotland can Italy cause an upset?

The Italians at home, maybe!

England at twickenham iagainst Ireland.

Ireland will be too strong for them!

France should win over Wales on the Sunday.

That’s how I see it!

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