2023 Six Nations: Thrilling Rugby Action and Surprising Results

The rugby union season is off to an exciting start, with the conclusion of the Six Nations 2023 campaigns in the opening months. But the action doesn’t end there, as the 2023 Rugby Union World Cup in France is still to come. So, what went down in the men’s, women’s, and U20 Six Nations campaigns, which all wrapped up earlier this year?

Recap of Men’s Six Nations 2023

The 24th edition of the Six Nations reached its conclusion in the middle of March, with France looking to retain the title that they won in 2022. However, it wasn’t to be for the French, as they weren’t able to retain the title in the same year in which they hosted the World Cup. But, France still enjoyed some memorable performances throughout their campaign, with Thomas Ramos ending the Six Nations as the top points scorer, and Damian Penaud ending the competition with the most tries. Meanwhile, Antoine Dupont was named as the Player of the Tournament.

Their Six Nations dominance, however, came to an end as Ireland was by much the best team throughout the event. Ireland won the Six Nations for the 15th time, as well as a 13th Triple Crown and a fourth Grand Slam. The Irish had a thrilling tournament finale, as they won the title in Dublin for the first time after defeating England on March 18. They also created history by completing a full set of Six Nations victories against all other tier-one nations, scoring an astonishing 91 tries, a new Championship record.

France ended the Six Nations in second place overall, while Scotland surpassed their expectations to finish third. It was a difficult first Six Nations campaign for Steve Borthwick, as England finished fourth, while Warren Gatland’s return saw Wales claim fifth. Italy once again won the Wooden Spoon, as they finished bottom of the standings.

Recap of U20 Six Nations 2023

The U20 Six Nations was also staged in the opening months of 2023, with the opening round of matches getting underway on February 3, before the competition was brought to its conclusion on March 19. It could be a worrying trend for other European nations, as Ireland eased to Grand Slam glory to land U20 success.

It was the fourth time that Ireland has completed the Grand Slam, and it was the second straight edition of the tournament that Richie Murphy’s side had achieved the feat. Ireland scored an impressive 239 points overall and allowed just 116. It was the French rugby U20 team that pushed them closest in the race for the title, with their only defeat coming against the Irish. Italy was one of the standout nations in the U20 edition, as they landed two wins from their five matches to snatch third in the standings. Meanwhile, England and Scotland finished fourth and fifth, respectively. It was a disappointing campaign for Wales, as they lost all five matches to finish bottom of the standings.

Recap of Women’s Six Nations 2023

The women’s Six Nations has recently reached its conclusion, and there was a very familiar sight for fans of the women’s game. England was able to claim a second straight Grand Slam title, but it was a much closer fight for the top prize in 2023. Both England and France went into a final shootout at Twickenham in late April, knowing either could yet claim Grand Slam success. A record crowd of another 58,000 at Twickenham witnessed a thrilling end to the competition, with England landing a 38-33 win. However, France showed their quality in the second half, as they managed a fightback from 33-0 down to make things interesting. But, England managed to win a 19th title, while it was also a 17th Grand Slam success. Marlie Packer was the standout player throughout the competition, as she scored an incredible 35 points and seven ties throughout the six-week event.

France would have been happy with their second-place finish in the standings, while Wales won three of their five matches to finish third in the standings. Scotland ended the competition in fourth, while Italy also enjoyed an encouraging display, as they concluded the Six Nations in fifth. However, it was a campaign to forget for Ireland, as they lost all five matches to finish bottom of the pile.

Final Thoughts

The rugby union action keeps going with the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, and bookmakers recommend France, Ireland, and New Zealand as the top contenders to win the tournament. As the host nation, France has the advantage of playing on home soil, but Ireland and New Zealand have consistently been strong in past World Cups. It will be interesting to see which team will come out on top in what promises to be an exciting and fiercely competitive tournament.

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