In the craziest weekend of rugby, round three of the RBS 6 Nations saw an upset, close matches and the emergence of a surefire favorite. Let’s start of with the most surprising result of the weekend: Scotland versus Italy.

It is widely known that since joining the tournament, Italy has done very little competing: they have won the wooden spoon in 10 of the last 15 years. But somehow they squeaked a 22-19 victory over Scotland and celebrated as if they just won the tournament.

As previously reported, Scotland has to be the most disappointing team this year: yes, they are only ranked ninth in the world, yet their team has been highly undisciplined, resulting in close losses to Wales and France. And their failures is largely due to sheer amount of points they have given up on penalties: Italy was awarded a penalty try after Scotland purposefully collapsed a maul in the final minute, basically sealing Italy’s victory.

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As close as the score looks, Scotland controlled most of the match: allowing Italy to remain in the game. Many times they had opportunities to put this away, but because of poor play around the breakdowns, turnovers and an assortment of other issues, Italy was able to drive down the field in the final minute.

In another disappointing 6 Nations showing, France lost to Wales to effectively push them out of contention for the 6 Nations title. On the other hand, this win keeps Wales’ title hope alive despite losing to England in the opening week.

This said, Wales success has to be placed on the spectacular boot of Leigh Halfpenny and also the failure of France’s kickers Camille Lopez and Morgan Parra — despite several opportunities to pull ahead on penalty kicks, Lopez and Parra were unable to capitalize on them.

Now, that does not mean France went down without a fight: despite only scoring one try in the second half, they were constantly knocking on Wales’ doorstep, spending 69 percent of the time in their opponent’s half and controlling possession for 67 percent of the second half. Still, they were unable to punch the ball in during the final moments, which would have secured a draw.

But the match of the weekend could be what decides the champion of 6 Nations: powerhouses Ireland and England’s head-to-head match-up happened to be a lot more one-sided than previously thought.

Offensively, Ireland has not been the sharpest in this tournament, getting off to notoriously slow starts against Italy and France. And this game was no different, basically surviving off of Jonathan Sexton’s boot and not scoring a try until the 52nd minute.

Still, the green warriors dominated the pitch in possession time and positioning; even when they appeared to be on their back foot, Ireland showed why they are the best defense in the tournament, effectively shutting down the British offense for majority of the match — England only scored on a drop goal and two penalty kicks by George Ford.

The 19-9 domination is Ireland’s tenth win in a row in international play: and though they still have a hard path with Wales and Scotland, they have just emerged as the front runners to win the 6 Nations tournament for consecutive years.

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