Ireland have given themselves a fighting chance of retaining their Six Nations title by beating France 26-14 on Sunday but who impressed the most?
Here are our player ratings starting from the front-row and why the players got their scores.
1) Cian Healy (7) – Having been rested against Italy, Healy showed why he is so important to the Irish set-up. Taking the ball on at every chance, playing a part in a near perfect line-out and making eight tackles before being taken off after a solid performance.
2) Rory Best (8) – In his last ever home Six Nations game the captain put in a brilliant display at the set piece, with all but one of his throws going to hand in the line-out. He also made some great carries, not to mention scoring the try that started it all off. A great showing from an Irish legend that will be sorely missed once he retires.
3) Tadhg Furlong (7.5) – Another blistering performance from arguably the best prop in the world. Earning the hard yards and contributing to the set-piece success. Also got off early to rest before next weekend’s clash and will be vital for Ireland to get any result in Cardiff.
4) Ian Henderson (7) – Continued his recovery from injury with a big performance, making carries, massive tackles and ripping the ball from the French. He has definitely given Schmidt an option to partner James Ryan in the second-row with a line-out performance reminiscent of a certain Devin Toner.
5) James Ryan (9) – Incredible. Yet another man of the match performance from the young Leinster man. 13 tackles are the pick of his statistics for the day in a game Ireland controlled but his overall attitude and influence on the game was remarkable. Pushing Rory Best over for the opening try and staying on until the end, he seems irreplaceable in this Irish team.
6) Peter O’Mahony (7) – A typical O’Mahony performance, going under the radar mostly while pushing the team over the line. He never really has a poor game in a green jersey.
7) Josh van Der Flier (6) – Unfortunate to be taken off early after suffering a leg injury but showed good signs before then. Hopefully will be back for next week and showing his class.
8) CJ Stander (8.5) – Following five weeks on the side-line he was back with a bang. Motivating his side, carrying well, and making 15 tackles. He was sorely missed and like Furlong and Ryan is certain of a starting role in this side if he continues with this form.
9) Conor Murray (7) – Looked to be back to his normal self. Benefitted from the quick ball at ruck time and seemed to rekindle his spark with Sexton ahead of next week.
10) Johnny Sexton (8) – A wonderful wrap-around try and three from four conversions are the most noticeable stats but his attitude appeared much improved to the one in Rome. A performance he needed after some criticism and looked more like last year’s world rugby player of the year.
11) Jacob Stockdale (6.5) – Didn’t have many opportunities to show his quality on the ball but looked dangerous when he did carry. Still can’t score against the French though.
12) Bundee Aki (6.5) – Put himself forward for some hard carries and made six tackles. Did nothing wrong but was out shone by his midfield partner on the day and will need to show more to keep his place when Robbie Henshaw returns.
13) Garry Ringrose (9) – Nobody would have argued had he won man of the match on his return to action. He looked sharp and posed danger to the French defence with every touch of the ball. Also made six tackles when needed but provided Ireland with a midfield spark that had been missing. His battle with Jonathan Davies next weekend will be one to watch.
14) Keith Earls (7.5) – Took his try perfectly, showing incredible pace and was unlucky not to get more chances. A first try against the French is another thing to tick off for the Munster man who seems to get better with age.
15) Jordan Larmour (7) – Having been called into the starting XV just before kick-off due to Rob Kearney’s absence he had a very tidy game. Almost got in for a wonderful individual try but for all the brilliance of his side-stepping and pace, a few more passes to team mates wouldn’t go astray.
Replacements (7) – Jack Conan was incredible. Having to come on so early in the game, making a total of 15 tackles, carrying with real intent and scoring Ireland’s third try. The rest of the bench came on after Ireland had won the tie in all honesty with Jack Carty making some lovely kicks and Dave Kilcoyne causing the French front-row major issues. However, they couldn’t add to the score-line and allowed the French in for two late tries to ruin an otherwise flawless performance.
Coaching Staff (9) – In Schmidt’s final home Six Nations game he didn’t put a foot wrong. They got their full 23 on the pitch and were three minutes away from holding the away side scoreless. They seemed to have solved the issues in the team. Next week will tell us how far they’ve come but it was a brilliant performance today.
The Crowd (5) – Anyone who was at the Aviva yesterday will have to admit, the French supporters were fantastic. From the walk to the ground, the bars, the anthems and throughout the match, the French supporters outshone their players. “La Marseillaise” rang almost as loud as ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ & ‘Ireland’s Call’ and they never ceased with ‘Allez les bleus’ compared to one poor rendition of the ‘Fields of Athenry’ from the Irish Fans.
You can watch Highlights & Read our Match Report here.
Hot stepper could put Davies & Parkes under pressure for Welsh centre positions #Residency
Cardiff Blues HR team have had a busy week. At the start of the
They then announced the capture of Amos from their Welsh rivals, Dragons.
However, sandwhiched between these 2 new signings was one very important annoucment for Cardiff and Wales.
Willis Halaholo (28) this week quietly committed his long term future to Cardiff Blues. The hot stepping centre grew up in Auckland and represented Tonga at youth level. Since joining the Blues in 2016 he has used his electric footwork to form an exciting partnership with former Hurricanes teammate Rey Lee-Lo in.
He has quickly
“I’m really happy to sign a new contract at Cardiff. The welcome I have received since I arrived here has been awesome and my family absolutely love it.
“This has definitely become our home and I’m really excited about what the future holds for Cardiff. We showed our potential last season by winning the European Challenge Cup and with so many exciting young players we can continue building and improving.
Cardiff boss John Mulvihill was delighted to retain his services. “Willis is such an exciting player, who has shown what he is capable of with big moments in big matches.
“He qualifies for Wales in the autumn and is looking forward to a massive off-season to take himself to the next level and put himself in the frame for selection.
“He has become a really important member of the group and compliments the young players coming through our system and thrives upon that competition.
If you’re not familiar with his name, below are just a few clips from his time to date with Cardiff. Come the Autumn, he could become a very handy addition to the Welsh squad!
England’s Six Nations campaign in review: Just a big anticlimax?
What happened, best and worst moments, and who stood out for England at the 2019 Six Nations.
The dramatic draw against Scotland in the final game of the 2019 Six Nations rather summed up England’s campaign – loads of tries, a brilliant start, and then a disappointing second half.
When Eddie Jones’ side visited majority favorites Ireland back at the start of February, and departed with a bonus point victory, there was a confidence among England fans that no one could beat them.
Fast forward to the 75th minute of the Scotland game and those same English fans are watching their side hurtle towards a second defeat of the tournament, against a team second-bottom of the table.
It took a George Ford overtime try to prevent one of the most sensational slip-ups of recent times, and spared the blushes of England players, fans and head coach Jones.
Ireland 20-32 England
England’s Six Nations campaign got off to cracking start at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin – a venue where they had previously failed to win at in six years.
Last years Grand Slam champions were left stunned as England ran in four tries to claim a 32-20 victory.
Joe Schmidt’s side were dissected by England’s pacey and intelligent backline, with two-try hero Henry Slade starring at centre.
Jonny May and Elliot Daly both scored as Ireland capitulated under England’s relentless kicking game – Daly’s try came courtesy of Jacob Stockdale fumbling the fullbacks kick.
The only setback for England was the loss of the influential Maro Itoje to injury. Itoje wouldn’t feature again for England in the competition.
England 44-8 France
England’s attack carried it’s scintillating form back to Twickenham, as Jones’ men ripped a woeful France side to shreds.
May scored a hat-trick of tries in the same corner before the half hour mark, before Slade bagged his third score in two games before halftime.
A penalty try followed as France disintegrated after the break, before Owen Farrell crossed for England’s 10th try of the competition already.
The intensity dropped as Jones introduced his ‘finishers’, but the head coach will be happy his side were clinical enough to see the game out – but that would become an issue in weeks to come.
Wales 21-13 England
As England slumped to defeat in Cardiff, it seemed all the good work from the first two games had been undone.
As the game approached the interval, with England leading 10-3 thanks to Tom Curry’s first international try, there was a sense that Jones’ men would rumble on to a third consecutive victory.
But what happened just before the break typified the deep-lying mental issues this England side is plagued with.
A 12-man maul was threatening to reach the Welsh line, but the ball was slung out to Farrell, who opted for a cross-kick which was ultimately ineffective.
There was acres of space for the England backs outside Farrell, and it was a uncharacteristically reckless decision to go to the boot. Another try before halftime would’ve put Wales at arms length; instead, they were right in the game.
A Warren Gatland masterclass ensued in the second period, with Dan Biggar coming off the bench to orchestrate wave after wave of Welsh attack, as England were starved of possession.
Cory Hill and Josh Adams both went over for Wales as England’s defence finally succumbed to the endless pressure, completing a memorable turnaround.
This result abruptly ended English Grand Slam hopes, and reiterated their inability to retain leads in big games.
This result put half-hearted smiles back on English faces, but there was still a lingering hangover from the defeat at the Millenium Stadium.
There was an element of anger in Englands play, as they took the frustration of the Welsh loss out on a sorry Italian side.
Jones’ men ran in eight tries in a largely entertaining game, with Manu Tuilagi and Brad Shields both scoring braces.
Jonny May scored his fifth try of the competition, and was joined on the scoresheet by Jamie George, Dan Robson and George Kruis.
England 38-38 Scotland
With Wales’ victory over Ireland earlier in the day eliminating the prospect of England catching Gatland’s side, it seemed the Calcutta Cup match would be a forgotten game in the Six Nation archives.
However, it was anything but.
England flew out the blocks, scoring 30 points in as many minutes, looking to give Twickenham with something to cheer about despite the earlier result.
A fancy pass from Slade sending May over for his 6th try of the competition was the pick of five first half tries, as England set about proving the Wales result as an anomaly among their other brilliant attacking performances.
Their display over the next 40 minutes did nothing to prove that however.
Scotland ran in six unanswered tries, with Sam Johnson scoring five minutes from time to complete an astonishing comeback.
With Scotland now leading 38-31, an England side playing to save themselves from embarrassment managed to reach the Scottish five-metre line. Ford received the ball midfield, then threw a dummy to send himself under the posts, and send Twickenham into relieved pandemonium.
Where did it go wrong?
Eddie Jones heavily criticised his player’s mentality following the Wales defeat, as well as after the draw with Scotland in the final round of the Six Nations.
In both games, England were leading comfortably at half time – more so in the Scotland game admittedly – and ended up giving up their advantage before the end of the match.
He said: “It’s like we have some hand grenades in the back of a jeep and sometimes they go off when there’s a lot of pressure. We have a few of them and we’ve got to get rid of them.”
He revealed that he would seek expert help before the World Cup, to help tackle his sides mental weakness in big games.
Jones said: “Well, it’s a combination of personnel, but I’ve got one person that’s going to help us that’s a bit of an expert. I’m not sharing that name with you now. I haven’t used her before.
The Australian reiterated that this wasn’t a freak occurrence, and is something that has prevented his side from reaching elite status for some time.
“It is a recurring thing. It is not a one off,” Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“When you want to be the best side in the world you have to put sides like Scotland away. We had the opportunity to do it and we didn’t.”
Two in 10 minutes for Henry Slade vs Ireland
The best moment of England’s campaign would obviously come before the Wales defeat, as everything since that loss seemed slightly hollow.
Slade’s two scores in Dublin encapsulated English fans reason to be optimistic – they demonstrated a confidence and excitement to Jones’ side.
It also showed that England could compete with – and beat – the very best.
The first came from a scrum on halfway, with Ben Youngs slinging the ball to the right wing, where Jonny May found space and kicked forward.
Slade, on exactly the same wavelength, ran onto the loose ball to score and put England 12 points clear of the reigning champions with 15 minutes to go.
The second, scored with five minutes left to play, allowed England to properly celebrate. It was the icing on the cake.
Slade picked off a pass from World Player of the Year, Johnny Sexton, and kept hold of the ball superbly to score England’s fourth and final try.
Honorable mention: George Ford try vs Scotland. Was a terrific moment of relief for English support after an astonishing game of rugby, but England should never have been in the position in the first place. There was also nothing left to play for other than pride (and the Calcutta Cup).
Josh Adams try in 21-13 loss to Wales
When Josh Adams rose above Elliot Daly to claim Dan Biggar’s pinpoint cross-field kick, it epitomised the game itself.
Wales simply rose to the occasion – most notably in the second half – and England, like Daly, didn’t.
Not only did it end England’s Grand Slam hopes, it provided the Welsh with a springboard to go on and win the title, as well as handing them a record 12th consecutive Test win.
It was the final nail in the coffin on a hugely disappointing day for English rugby.
Honorable mention: Sam Johnson try to make it 38-31 to Scotland with five minutes to go. Had Ford not scored in overtime, this would be unquestionably the worst moment of the campaign – nothing could be more sickening for England than throwing away a 31-point lead, against Scotland of all teams.
It easy to forget this man is just 20 years of age. His sin-bin against Ireland perhaps highlighted his over-eagerness, but he will only learn from mistakes such as this.
Just watching the workload the flanker gets through makes you feel tired – he made a staggering 86 tackles across the five games, more than any other player.
In addition, the Sale Sharks man managed five turnovers across the course of the campaign, which is no mean feat at international level.
His try against Wales also showed an intelligent side to his game that not many players his age possess.
Honorable mention: Henry Slade. Re-earned his place in the squad after impressing in the Autumn internationals, and fully justified his inclusion with some big performances in big games. His brace against Ireland will be one to remember. England look a better side with the Sale man in the team.
England will play four Test Matches in the summer, as preparation for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
In August, they will play Grand Slam winners Wales home and away, before Ireland visit Twickenham.
Then, at the start of September, they will host Italy at St. James’ Park.
The World Cup will then kick off mid-September. England have been drawn in pool C, along with France, USA, Argentina and Tonga.
Their first match will be against Tonga on September 22nd at the Sapporo Dome.
Ireland’s Six Nations: The Verdict
Here is the verdict we have on Ireland’s Six Nations and what it means for the future
Disappointment, anger, debates, a team in turmoil, these are what we have been hearing over the past few days since Ireland’s third-place finish in the Six Nations, but what is the reality?
A tournament that started and ended on sour notes, with a flourish in-between. It wasn’t the prettiest of sights, but it has taught us a few things.
The defeats that Ireland suffered, were not so much due to poor quality within the team, however, a lack of motivation. Against England they were smashed in every aspect, conceding an early try, something they also did against Wales in the final round.
The lack of motivation was present throughout the tournament bar the round four game against the French. Nobody will find out the reality of what happened behind the scenes any time soon, but there are some obvious reasons.
Firstly, the team’s half-back partnership where arguably rushed back from injury on the test stage. Conor Murray looked a shadow of himself all tournament, while Johnny Sexton came alive against the French, only to be found wanting against Wales once more.
Without that cog in the wheel, any team would fail to be at 100%. The solution could be simple, give them time to rest, or drop them and allow someone else to impress while giving them motivation to get back in form.
Injuries were a constant headache for Joe Schmidt and his backroom staff throughout meaning there was a lack of consistency on the team sheet, which didn’t help matters.
A lack of leadership occurred, with the usual motivators dropping off in their approach. Peter O’Mahony was man of the match on two occasions, but when he failed to turn up, nobody picked up the pieces.
The one real positive from the tournament is that it has been confirmed that Ireland have possibly the best lock in the game for years to come in James Ryan.
Memories of Paul O’Connell came to mind as 22-year-old Ryan showed his never say die attitude throughout and was definitely Ireland’s player of the Six Nations.
The worry is that the team spirit seen last year was missing, it looked like a group of individuals rather than a team effort at times.
Individual brilliance was what Ireland relied on for a spark, such as the return of Garry Ringrose and CJ Stander against France.
The positive is that Ireland have all the same players that featured last year as they dominated games, they have the same management and most importantly they have time.
The buzz of last season’s Grand Slam was incredible, but such high standards are hard to replicate week in, week out. This proved that while handing Ireland a reality check.
The negativity shown while the team played poorly was awful. When they were winning people hopped on the bandwagon, but when they have a bad time of it suddenly, they are the worst team around?
The reality is, this was a forgettable Six Nations, but the men in green have still come out as the third-best team in the world rankings and can only improve on their performances.
Lessons have been learned, Schmidt and Rory Best may not have got their fairy-tale endings, but instead of dwelling on a single poor tournament Ireland must now push on.
The quality is there. A quick list of names such as Sexton, Murray, Stockdale, Ryan, Ringrose, Henshaw, Best, Furlong, O’Mahony, to name a few shows the world-class group Ireland are fortunate to have.
This Six Nations was not what people had hoped for, but it has knocked any sense of invincibility out of this team, a team that demolished all they faced a year ago. How this team bounces back is what they should be judged on and all this has done has shown a nation how hard it is at the top, but it’s a challenge Schmidt and Co will grasp with both hands to rectify.
This team is far from done, a new era dawns, before then there is some unfinished business to deal with and Japan could be where Ireland flourish once more.
WATCH: Is there a name for this ‘Sinoti Sinoti’ step??
WATCH: Kings get a Red & Yellow in one TMO review v Ulster.
Ulster count cost of bonus point win over Southern Kings
“Awful, actually terrible” – Fitzgerald blasts one Ireland star.
WATCH: How did this hit from Tuilagi go unnoticed & unpunished?
World Rugby 12 Team League – Explained
6 Nations6 days ago
O’Gara linked with shock World Cup Role.
Premiership1 week ago
The latest Cipriani rumour could ruffle an Irish man’s feathers
International1 week ago
Latest Argentina announcement is bad news for England.
Premiership4 days ago
Former Ulster Out-Half signs with Harlequins
Pro1422 hours ago
Gruesome image of Josh Navidi dislocated elbow emerges
Pro1421 hours ago
WATCH: Kings get a Red & Yellow in one TMO review v Ulster.
Champions Cup1 week ago
Leinster Stars Set to Miss Champions Cup Quarter-Final
International5 days ago
Injuries Are Not on the Rise in Rugby and Concussion is Decreasing