Talking Points: 6 Nations, Round 2

We look back at round two of the women's Six Nations, and pick out key talking points, from Scotland's evolution, to Ireland's decision making.

Published by Ali Donnelly , April 1, 2024

6 minute read

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Talking Points: 6 Nations, Round 2

Scotland are the coming team

There is much to admire about this Scotland team, not least their commitment to playing attractive rugby while retaining a strong defensive core; and their clear and impressive evolution from a team that lost a lot of games, to a team that will command the respect of every team in the competition.

Beating Wales away from home on the opening weekend took many by surprise, but this is a team which, since it finally overturned its losing streak, have been one of the most improved teams in world rugby. Notably, it took France until the game's end to secure the win, a stark contrast to Scotland's 55-0 defeat in Vannes last season.

While their own mistakes proved costly, with matches against Italy and Ireland looming, this season holds great promise for a squad led admirably by captain Rachel Malcolm and rising star Alex Stewart.

France’s execution does not match their intent

Cool heads always prevail.

Ireland looked in total control of the game against Italy in the opening 20 minutes in Dublin, only to fall apart thanks to some poor decision making, contributing to a litany of handling errors, which killed all their momentum.

Italy, a team that have more experience and progress under their belt, were not fazed at all by a blistering Irish start that saw the hosts go 7-0 up quickly.

As the game wore on though, Ireland’s failure to control their own possession, take points when they were on offer and slow the game down, helped Italy to grow in confidence.

The Italians, for whom Alyssa D’Inca was once again outstanding, took all their scoring opportunities and defended brilliantly.

It would have been harsh if Ireland had nicked the game at the death – as they came so close to doing – but there were some strong lessons about clarity of thought in the midst of a test game for Ireland to take from this one, ahead of even tougher challenges to come.

We may not see the best of England till later this year.

England were excellent against Wales, with their new midfield of Meg Jones and Tatyana Heard reminding everyone in particular of the embarrassment of riches at John Mitchell’s disposal.

Though you would never rule out France pulling off a huge performance in France on the final weekend, it’s already almost impossible to see anything but an England Grand Slam.

England will always say that the scorelines don't reflect how tough the games are, but they are so dominant now that in reality, we may need to wait till they play New Zealand – likely at Twickenham in September – to really see them thoroughly tested.

Records have become the norm.

England had a record home crowd outside of Twickenham against Wales, Ireland had a record crowd in Dublin, while Scotland coach Bryan Easson revealed that his side's next game against England is also sold out.

These facts didn’t go unnoticed at the weekend, but they are no longer greeted with the emotion of old – rather the expectation now is that crowds in this competition will continue to grow.

Moving the Six Nations window to March and April continues to be one of the best decisions made for this tournament, and it would be no surprise if more records are broken in the weeks ahead.

The kids are alright

Some of the brightest talent on display in the competition so far has come from some of the newest and youngest players. Ireland’s Aoife Wafer, who turned 21 last week, has been an absolute revelation and if Ireland had won their games, she would have been a shoo-in for player of the match on both occasions.

Nineteen-year-old Alex Stewart has been brilliant for Scotland, while French teenager Kelly Arbey looks right at home on the wing for her side; and while she is not necessarily a new face, at just 23, Connie Powell is a young front row player with a huge future on evidence of her cameo for England at the weekend.

The more this competition grows, the more teams may fear using it to blood young players, but on the evidence of recent weeks , the pipeline of talent looks deeply impressive