To the delight of countless Rugby fans, the RBS 6 Nations tournament officially kicked off last Friday with the highly contested match-up between England and Wales. It appeared in the opening half that Wales was going to dominate for 80: within the first two minutes Leigh Halfpenny converted a penalty into three points and about four minutes later Rhys Webb scored the first try of the tournament, putting Wales up 10-0 in the opening minutes.

However, England would begin to settle down, as wing Anthony Watson scored at the 14-minute mark off a beautiful grubber by Mike Brown. For the rest of the first half, the two teams exchanged penalty kicks, putting Wales up 16-8 going into halftime. But in the opening minutes of the second half, England was able to quickly drive down the field and score on a Jonathan Joseph try: and with the conversion, they cut Wales lead down to one. And from then on, it was all England playing more discipline ball: as they scored two more times on penalty kicks by fly-half George Ford and shut out Wales — effectively winning 21-16.

As for Ireland and Italy, the 26-3 score does not reflect the effort put forth by Italy: as the Italians actually kept this match close until the 60th minute. There is no doubt Ireland consistently controlled the match in the first half, but Italy’s defense stopped several early Irish drives within their 20 meter line. Ireland would enter halftime on top due to fly-half Ian Keatley’s kicking, but Italy was able to cut their lead down to 9-3 on the foot of Kelly Haimona.

But it looks like Ireland benefitted from the stoppage time, as they continued to slowly chip away at Italy: better teams outlast lesser opponents in these types of matches. And at the 64th minute, scrum-half Conor Murray scored Ireland’s first try of the tournament, thus opening up the floodgates. Flanker Tommy O’Donnell would score one more try minutes later, effectively sealing the Irish victory.

As for the third and final match, France and Scotland played a defense-heavy bout, as Camille Lopez’s foot played the deciding factor in the 15-8 France victory. As the 6 Nations website pointed out, France has never lost a home opener: and are 13 for the last 14 in opening weekend encounters versus Scotland.

And though the losing team played amazing defense, they were undisciplined: the match came down to who made less mistakes and unfortunately Scotland’s penalties resulted in five successful penalty kicks from the aforementioned Camille Lopez. Scotland’s only score came in the first half with a penalty kick by Greig Laidlaw and a try by wing replacement Dougie Fife.

Next week sees England vs. Italy and Ireland vs. France on Valentine’s Day and Scotland vs. Wales the day after: for all times, check the 6 Nations website and local cable listings.

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