Six Nations: 2024 Review

The Six Nations is done and dusted for another year, so how did all the teams fare?

Published by Ali Donnelly, April 28th, 2024

11 minutes read

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Six Nations: 2024 Review

The Six Nations came to a close on the back of another set of record breaking crowds, with France, Ireland and Wales ending the competition attracting their best ever home attendances.

England’s dominance aside, this has also been a highly competitive Championship amongst the teams from third to sixth, though the gulf between those and the rest is stark when you consider that the team who finished third leaked more than 80 points to the eventual winners.

So how did each team do and where does that leave them?


What is there left to say about this England team? In the post-match press conference after the win against France, I asked Marlie Packer if in over 100 caps she had played in a better England team, and she didn’t hesitate to say that she hadn’t. It’s a fool’s game comparing teams from different eras, but it is quite difficult to disagree that this England team has evolved into something incredibly special.

Front-row players who can dominate a set-piece and pass and move like centres; a back row which thrives whichever combination is picked, centres who play out intricate moves to bamboozle a defence and a back three who at times look unmarkable – this is an England team that will continue to dominate the Six Nations.

Their issue as ever is being challenged significantly before an inevitable march towards a World Cup final next year, where their likely challengers are a New Zealand side who have perfected the art of peaking just in time for that very match every four years.

WXV1 later this year might tell us a bit more about how the Black Ferns are evolving under their new coaches, but with England looking on the road for greatness, we’re likely going to have to wait to year to tell if they’ve kept up with the pace of the Red Roses.

A word too for Ellie Kildunne, who despite being kept quiet by France, has the talent and personality to become one the game’s most high-profile stars. Ruby Tui and Portia Woodman have come closest to reaching breakthrough status on that front and it would be fantastic for the women’s game to have more faces better known by sports fans of all backgrounds.

Star player: Ellie Kildunne


It feels remarkable to say it, but after the game France neither looked surprised nor sounded overly frustrated, as if another loss to England had just been inevitable.

Gaelle Mignot said that she did not think her team was too far away from England and repeatedly stressed that just small details separated the teams.

It did not feel like that in Bordeaux, when despite their intent to play in the second half, they were some way off England and never seriously looked in contention.

France were certainly full value for second place and were head and shoulders above the teams beneath them, but there are areas of their game that will have to significantly improve if they seriously want to challenge for this title again. One of them is understanding when and how to play fast and loose, with France spurning multiple opportunities when they got on top against England, to go to the corner and build momentum, preferring quick taps which largely resulted in turnover ball.

Pauline Bourdon-Sansus is a magnificent player, but she is guilty too often of pressing the accelerator when France need to stick a brake on and tactically there must be questions about how the team is set up, with the hosts looking totally taken aback by England’s decision to go to the driving maul several times in the game and quite unable to defend it.

As a best of the rest side though, there have been lots of pluses – the emergence of Lina Queyroi as a long-term solution to the ten shirt being one, and they are capable of scoring magnificent and deadly tries – as both Marine Menager’s were at the weekend.

Star player: Assia Khalfaoui


After last year’s disappointments, finishing third is a remarkable return for Ireland, who stuttered throughout the Championship but did enough to end on a real positive.

The best news for Scott Bemand and his new-look coaching team is that Ireland managed to win two games, could and probably should have won a third, while not particularly playing brilliantly, save one game against Wales. In other words, there’s huge scope for improvement.

The return of Cliodhna Moloney and the experience she brings has helped, but the emergence of some young players who look like they will be around for the next decade must be the most positive of all. Dannah O’Brien is the future around which this Ireland side will be built while the likes of Aoife Wafer and Katie Corrigan look real finds too.

While the Wales game was the real standout for Ireland given how well they played, the Scotland game – while not easy on the eye – was the marker of how far the team progressed, as Ireland played poorly in large patches, but still found a way to win. That is the mark of a team that is learning.

WXV1 may well be a step too far for the Irish later this year, but it’s incredible that they’re there at all and with World Cup qualification sorted, Ireland will have to look at it as a bonus development opportunity.

Star player: Aoife Wafer




Scotland will surely be bitterly disappointed with how they finished in Belfast, given the promise they have been showing all Championship, with two fine away wins and a tough fight against France making this one of their best Six Nations in years.

A fantastic away win in Wales on the opening day suggested this could indeed be the year that Scotland bust through in a real way, having come so close so often, but while there were elements of brilliance in their play, the past few weeks were also a reminder that this team is still a work in progress.

Led brilliantly by the impressive Rachel Malcolm, Scotland play attractive rugby, and players like Emma Orr and Lisa Thomson have excelled off the back of a much-improved forward pack. Alex Stewart has been a real find and Evie Gallagher continues to progress, so the bones of a more consistent Scottish team are there – but they must now take it to the next level.

Winning WXV2 again will be a clear target, while Scotland will also be focused on qualifying for the World Cup as quickly as possible, given the graft they went through last time.

Star player: Emma Orr




Italy are still adjusting to life under a set of new coaches, but with some finetuning, do look like a team capable of beating Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Both losses to Wales and Scotland were narrow and could well have gone either way, while they did put up a great fight against England in the opening round.

The loss of Michela Sillari was a huge blow after that first game, with the classy Alyssa D’Inca forced to move in from her wing position where she excels.


The Italians clearly want to play fast and loose, and against Wales their back play was far superior, but they’ve had difficulty converting their chances.

Standout performances came from D’Inca, Sara Tounesi, who was superb up front, often in tandem with Giordana Duca while Veronica Madia and Beatrice Rigoni have a nice understanding through the middle.

All the parts seem there for Italy to kick on and be more consistent and the development of players through the Benetton and Zebre franchises should start to bear some fruit soon.

Star player: Alyssa D’Inca


There are growing pains in the transition from amateur to professional sport and Wales are living them out in front of us.

You couldn’t but be moved by the sight of Ioan Cunningham in tears in the box at the end of the game against Italy – a reminder that in this new era, results can much more quickly determine someone’s livelihood.

Arguably like Ireland this year, Wales overachieved last year, and have been brought back down to reality with a wooden spoon this year.

Playing better teams in WXV1 did not have the effect of hardening Wales for games against the teams around them and seemed rather to drain them of confidence and give them the appearance of a side who had forgotten how to win.

Power up front has not been an issue for Wales with players like Sisilia Tuipulotu and Gwenllian Pyrs capable of dominant carries and a strong set-piece, but their cohesion in attack has been poor and their skillset under pressure hasn’t looked near good enough.  Far too often Lleucu George has looked isolated, and Wales have sorely missed the experience of some of their retired players like Sioned Harries, Elinor Snowsill and Siwan Lillicrap.

Wales will face Spain in a play-off now to determine whether they compete in WXV2 or 3 later this year, and relegation to the third tier would be quite a bump. A win and qualification for WXV2 might however do Wales the world of good, giving them a chance to get back to beating teams in and around them.

Star player: Alex Callender