The build up for the 2021 Six Nations didn’t look great. Stadia and pubs in all six member nations were to remain completely empty, the weather was cold - and worst of all - the French looked set to beat the four home nations to the Crown.
It turned out the bleakness was all in the build up, as we were subsequently treated to some exciting rugby from the get go. From there on in, we saw some historic victories, shock losses and nail-biting finishes unfold before our very eyes!
Even when Covid-19 made its mandatory appearance, it couldn’t spoil the party. The outbreak in the French camp did lead to rumours of a withdrawal, and even calls for walkover results to be handed our to opponents for their remaining games. However, in the end the short saga only added to the tournaments drama, with the postponed match against Scotland brining us a climactic conclusion to an exciting tournament.
Ultimately, it was one of the most exciting Six Nations tournaments we can remember. Sure it could’ve been even better with fans - but would we have seen the type of rugby we did with the pressure that capacity crowds bring? It’s unlikely!
In fact, we’d go as far as to say that, in terms of rugby and drama itself, this was actually the best Six Nations Tournament ever. We shouldn’t point out though, we’re not including the Five Nations era in this.
Below you can find five reasons to back up our claim that the 2021 Six Nations was the best tournament yet!
If you take Italy out of the equation, the average points margin across all games was less than five, which is pretty astonishing!
In fact, the only team other than Italy to lose by a margin of more than five points was England - a feat they managed twice. The Irish beat them by a margin of 14 points, while the Welsh won by a 16 point gap.
The gap in quality was far smaller than we all thought coming into the tournament (well, between five of the six teams at least). Would we have seen such competitive matches and tight margins had fans been present? Who knows, but we enjoyed what we saw!
The final two games of the Six Nations were set up to determine the title, with both games ultimately going down to the wire. The clock was in the red when the final two games were decided, with each serving up a last gasp win from behind!
The Wlesh look certain to clinch an unlikely Grand Slam, as they established a 10 point gap over a 14 man France with 13 minutes left on the clock. However, poor discipline proved to be Wales’ undoing.
Their time wasting tactics came undone when Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were sin binned in quick succession. With the clock in the red, Brice Dulin finished off a flowing move to Keep the French Dream Alive.
Had the late drama against Wales not unfolded, the postponed final match between France and Scotland in Paris would have effectively been a dead rubber affair. That was not be though, as the French went into the game with some hope knowing a 21 point margin and a bonus point win could clinch the title.
It quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen, though it did look like France would win on the night. The French were denied a consolation victory when Van der Merwe met a looping Hastings pass late on to secure a famous win for the Scots, and a third crown in two years for the Welsh.
The late drama on the delayed closing night of the Six Nations marked Scotland’s first Victory in Paris since 1999. However, the Scots sealed a more historic victory on the first day of the tournament, as they beat England in Twickenham for the first time since March 1983. To put that into perspective none of the men playing on the field that day were even born the last time this happened!
Bookending their tournament with historic away wins could only give th Scots a fourth palace finish though. Blowing a 14 point lead against Wales an a tight loss to Ireland put them out of contention for their first title since 1999.
Wales were fourth favourites for the title going into the 2021 Six Nations, with the Bookies offering odds of 12/1 for a third Dragons’ title in two years. They were 33/1 for the Grand Slam though, so we imagine there are a few unlucky punters out there who narrowly missed out!
The worst call from the bookies was having England as 1/1 favourites for the tournament and 2/1 for the grand slam. The English ultimately finished in fifth place, with just two wins. The bookies didn’t get it all wrong though, as France, Ireland and Italy all finished where predicted. They also called the No grand Slam Winner correctly, which was being offered at odds of 5/6 ahead of the tournament.
With the European Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup coming up next weekend, you can check out the latest odds with TonyBet below. You can also check out what’s on offer with the rest of UK’s top bookmakers here at Betting.co.uk.
The surprise capitulation of England, the unexpected Welsh title win and the strong showing from Scotland have made the places for the British and Irish Lions squad hotly contested. Alun Wyn Jones has surely secured the captains armband for the up coming tour in South Africa, with Scotland’s Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell certain to be on the plane out. Lions Coach Warren Gartland is expected to announce his quad in the near future, with many English players set to lose their place following a poor Six Nations.
Although it was a Six Nations full of twists turns and excitement, there was one stand out constant - the Italians.
The Gli Azzurri were the whipping boys once again, and are still without a win since their narrow triumph over Scotland back in 2015. Yet another poor showing has rekindled the debate surrounding their place in the tournament.
Some are calling for a return to the old Five Nations format, kicking out the Italians all together. Meanwhile others have made a case for a potential playoff between Georgia and Italy for the sixth spot.
We kind of forgot about the Irish - they were decent weren’t they? They just sort of, ticked along and finished third, as was was expected.
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