It’s been an entertaining start to the Six Nations Championship at the Stade de France and Murrayfield.
Italy impressed me by being patient early on and happy to go through the phases. Although that wasn’t going to be enough to beat France, it showed how much they are growing as a team.
France were simply too clinical and every time they got a sniff of the line they made it count. Italy didn’t give in, however, and clearly the other four teams are going have to produce good rugby to beat them – especially in Rome – and I can see them picking up a win or two this season.
France have underlined their justified position as favourites.
Both England and Scotland have already started the process of building for the 2015 World Cup with England in particular fielding a number of fresh faces for the Calcutta Cup.
It was an error-strewn game which was to be expected but defensively, England were excellent – Ashton, Foden, Barritt and Farrell weren’t given much opportunity to impress in Scotland’s half but when they were needed to, they stopped Scotland in their tracks, although it must be said that Scotland didn’t help their cause on several occasions which some poor decision making and bad handling.
Most of England’s time in defence was spent dealing with David Denton who was the find of the opening weekend – as well as Wesley Fofana played for France.
He follows in the footsteps of Richie Gray as an excellent running forward and his game suits Scotland’s style of play as they often look to their forwards to gain ground as first receiver. At 21, he is quite a prospect.
England might not have set the world alight on a freezing day in Scotland but for me, they have shown they are moving in the right direction.
Scotland will also give Wales, Ireland and possibly even France something to think about. Even if I can’t see beyond France romping to a second successive tournament triumph.