Wins for France, Scotland and Wales have launched the 2021 Guinness Six Nations in eventful fashion.
Here, the PA news agency examines five things we learned from the round-one fixtures.
Points could mean prizes
The one that got away
Eddie’s selection dilemma
Azzurri blues continue
There was a weary predictability to events in Rome as France, inspired by scrum-half Antoine Dupont, overwhelmed Italy 50-10. Les Bleus are a high-class side who have rightly replaced England as Six Nations favourites, but Italy’s shortcomings are the tournament’s open wound. Franco Smith has invested in youth after fielding a starting XV containing only 124 caps, but there appears no end in sight to the search for a first Championship win since 2015.
Welcome relief for Wayne Pivac’s Wales
Wales endured a miserable first year under head coach Wayne Pivac and benefited from a major helping hand as they ended a run of four successive Six Nations defeats. The Welsh, whose only wins in 2020 were two successes against Italy and one over Georgia, had an additional man for 66 minutes of their 21-16 defeat of Ireland following Peter O’Mahony’s red card for a high challenge on Tomas Francis. Despite the early dismissal, the result was far from a formality. Andy Farrell’s dogged visitors led 13-6 at the interval in Cardiff and pushed hard during a dramatic and chaotic end to the game, which would no doubt have left Pivac breathing a significant sigh of relief.