As the Rugby Six Nations Championship entered its final week, Wales faced a tough fixture against Ireland, the last obstacle in their quest to achieve a full slate of victories in this year’s tournament. England, only second to Wales by one point, would face a seemingly disadvantaged Scottish squad who suffered multiple injuries throughout the previous several weeks. Meanwhile, France and Italy would conclude the competition with their bottom-table fight, Italy hoping to at last achieve a sorely desired win.
The Wales vs Ireland match proved to be the most decisive of the weekend, as it placed pressure on the Welsh to seal their championship victory. While tries were sparse in number, with Wales and Ireland only scoring one each throughout the entire game, steady Welsh attacks on the Irish defense were rewarded with the excellent tactical kicking of the Welsh Fly Half, Gareth Anscombe, who scored 20 points throughout, gaining both the try’s conversion and 6 successful penalty kicks. With momentum being firmly on Wales’ side after a try early on in the game ensured dominant control on the pitch, the Irish seemed unable to effectively respond. Despite Ireland gaining points thanks to Winger, Jordan Lamour, the game ended with a resounding 25-7 win for Wales, sealing their position as the 2019 tournament winners and providing coach Warren Gatland with his third Grand Slam success.
While Wales’ victory was clear, England did not deter from playing their home match against Scotland in dominant fashion. The England vs Scotland match was arguably more dramatic a game than that which previously determined a Welsh victory. The first half of the match saw England produce a seemingly unassailable 31-0 lead within the first 30 minutes. Tries were scored in rapid succession and shared between the usual suspects such as Johnny May and Jack Nowell, and then surprising Forwards in the form of Tom Curry and Joe Launchbury. However, Scotland refused to give up in the face of such odds. They faced England with the tenacity and determination that makes the Six Nations a must-watch sporting competition.
After trimming the lead with a try in the latter stages of the first half by Scottish Flanker, Gary Graham, Scotland’s hope surged and fortunes were further improved in the second half, exploiting an extremely poor, and arguably complacent, English defense to shift the momentum in Scotland’s favor. With Scottish play enhanced by the insertion of Scrum Half, Greg Laidlaw, onto the field, further tries by Magnus Bradbury and Finn Russell led to Scotland drawing even with 20 minutes left in the match. Another Scottish try scored after a lucky interception from Russell, put Scotland 38-31 ahead. Only after a desperate last-minute push from England did Fly Half, George Ford, secure an essential try for England, ending the game in a 38-38 tie which prevented England from suffering a humiliating defeat.
With France beating Italy 25-14 in a tightly fought battle, the 2019 Six Nations Championship concluded on a dramatic note as the Welsh emerged victorious and in high spirits for the upcoming World Cup held in Japan this Autumn. Meanwhile, England and Ireland both face several months in which essential improvements are required in areas of discipline and defense should either side want to succeed against strong southern-hemisphere opponents such as Australia and New Zealand.
Thus, this year’s Six Nations provided an incredible end to an equally wonderful start. The annual championship is not only a demonstration of the power, strength, and dedication required within the sport of Rugby, but also the sportsmanship, heart, and determination it takes to succeed in professional athletics.