And so its all over – and, frankly to no-one’s surprise, England have won their sixth successive title, and their fifth Grand Slam in six years.
It was an outcome never seriously in doubt. England were rarely pushed, which is actually the biggest concern because they were hardly faultless – especially the backline which in both televised games made way too many unforced errors. Trouble is that this hardly matters if you still win 89-0, but it would matter if the opposition was New Zealand…
Fortunately France look like they will be a test for England in the next year or so, if their young team can continue to develop… and if they can find someone who can kick. Really embarrassing is only word to describe the French kicking throughout the tournament.
Ireland and Wales have also new, young teams – and also showed great promise, though Wales’ loss of their coach mid-season was a remarkable (and unexplained) blow.
It was a blow perhaps not unrelated to their unexpected loss to Italy – but the fact is that Italy have now won six of their last 10 internationals, better than anyone in the tournament other than England and France. They are no longer the push-overs of the Six Nations – they have learnt how to win, and that confidence means that they are now a worry to everyone (except maybe England).
Scotland, on the other hand, are only learning how to lose. They have only won one of their last 18 internationals – and this Six Nations can only be described as a disaster. Every game lost, and four of the five by record margins. It is difficult to see how they can turn all this round – how much confidence can you have if you lose your games by an average of over 45 points per game!