2013 RBS Six Nations: Review

Try of the tournament

Despite the number of tries dwindling worryingly after such a promising start, there were actually plenty of contenders for this award. Either of Cuthbert’s brace on the final day would be worthy winners for their drama alone, while Wesley Fofana’s power and guile at Twickenham and Simon Zebo’s audacious flick in the build up to Cian Healy’s try both deserve mentions. Brian O’Driscoll’s mesmeric pass for Zebo himself to score on that opening day was something special, too.

However, for individual brilliance this award goes to Stuart Hogg for his effort against Italy. The Azzurri were seemingly in under the posts, with a two-on-one. That one was Hogg, who proceeded to intercept the pass, explode out of the blocks, step his way through a forest of stunned Italians before turning on the afterburners and sprinting to the line. Murrayfield went mad, and rightly so.

Player of the tournament

Louis Picamoles’ brutish brilliance in a distinctly average French team is highly commendable, as is Sergio Parisse’s leadership of Italy which consistently galvanises them to reach new heights. Both were titanic all tournament (bar the one game Parisse missed).

However this can only really go to one man, who stood head and shoulders (ironic given his stature) above the rest for his continued excellence: Leigh Halfpenny. It was not just his exemplary goal-kicking that stood out; it was his bravery and technique under the high ball, his willingness to counter and his body-on-the-line last ditch tackling. Super stuff from the rock at the back.

Disappointment of the tournament

Sadly, plenty to choose from here also. The scrums were a mess once again – from a layman’s point of view it seems there needs to be yet another rule change to stop so much focus being on the ‘hit’. This would hopefully end the ridiculous run of free-kicks and penalties for early engagement the likes of which we saw in the Scotland v Wales game. It is tempting to mention the referees, but really they have such a tough job it will always leave somebody upset. Consistency is what they must strive for.

Ireland’s injury worries robbed us of a genuine title contender, although it did at least expose their glaring lack of depth, something that can only be good in the long term. That said, this award can only really go to the team who contrived to win the wooden spoon having been many people’s favourites going into the tournament: France. A combination of bizarre selections, fatigue and at times a worrying disinterest combined to give us a series of pitifully poor performances from the French. They weren’t even inconsistent this year – just plain bad. It was such a disappointment, given quality of players they do have.

Coach(es) of the tournament

Early frontrunners for this award included Stuart Lancaster, after guiding England to the brink of a Grand Slam, Scotland’s duo of Scott Johnson and Dean Ryan, who instilled in the players a belief they could win that had been lacking for years, and Jacques Brunel, who finally managed to get Italy to play some rugby.

In the end, though, it is split three ways. After a dismal opening half an hour against Ireland, and their eventual eighth loss on the bounce, Wales’ turnaround in fortunes is a minor miracle. Rob Howley, Shaun Edwards and Robin McBryde must take plenty of the credit for inspiring their team to eventually win the championship, and in such emphatic style. Edwards in particular was fantastic – after his Lions snub, and consequently revealing he considered quitting rugby altogether, he masterminded the Welsh defence to avoid conceding a try for four games in a row.

Game of the tournament

Not a tough one, this. The opening weekend was exhilarating, but for pure drama and a restoration of faith in Northern Hemisphere rugby, Wales’ 30-3 crushing of England on the final day wins this award hands down. In front of a passionate, partisan crowd whipped into a frenzy in the closed arena of the Millenium Stadium, the Welsh simply blew England away. There were even a couple of wonderful tries, too. It was the finale the competition was desperately crying out for.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Coming soon: The 2013 Six Nations Alternative Awards, celebrating all that was weird and wonderful in this year’s championship.

15 thoughts on “2013 RBS Six Nations: Review

  1. Agree with most of them, but can such a one-sided game be given game of the tournament? For pure excitement, Italy v France was probably a better all-round match.

  2. I don’t think Halfpenny would be half as highly thought of if he didn’t goalkick. People tout him as the best 15 in the world, but he simply isn’t. He’s a superb goalkicker, but don’t let that blind you to his very good (but not brilliant) game as a fullback.

    1. Geth, It is a fair point to say that good goalkickers aften get lauded for the whole game on the basis of the goalkicking only – which, btw, is no mean feat at the very highest level (even with the roof closed).

      However, I do think that Halfpenny’s all round game is of the highest order. Let’s not forget that he missed some eminently gettable kicks against Scotland before finding his measure, and clearly outplayed the classy Hogg opposite him.

      Forget the goalkicking, and who would you choose at 15 ahead of him?

    2. He isn’t lauded because of his goal kicking (which Biggar can do equally well).

      He didnt drop a bomb that was put up to him all tournament.

      He’s still not missed a tackle in the 6N since 2011. What more do you want?

      If it’s down to his attacking – it’s the way the Welsh set up – they dont need him in the line at all times as Cuthbert & North are always in field looking for work. Wales topped the tries scored count after all. He started his career on the wing which is an attacking position and scored plenty of tries so he has the ability.

      He may not be best in the world, but he certainly has to be considered for best in NH.

      1. I’m not going to dispute his quality, but when you’re making an average of 2.5 tackles per game (including 0 against France), the chances of missing tackles are lower than from those making 18+ tackles.

        1. HA! good shout Geat!

          I still think his defensive qualities are more sound than Kearney & Hogg. Foden is also excellent but as he’s been injured needs game time to come back to form.

          As a side point i was extactic with Halfpenny’s defensive contribution against Strettle last year, Flood & Parling this year! :-)

          1. You absolutely cannot fault his commitment – he practically broke himself making that try-saver on Strettle. I’d be more than happy with him as Lions starting 15.

            I think we (England) miss Foden, he was always so much more of a threat than Goode seems to be, and he also helped get the best out of Crashton. Before his injury I expect he’d have been on the plane with 1/2p and Kearney, but he just hasn’t been the same since. I hope he goes to Argentina with England and regains some of that form.

  3. For me the coach of the tournament has to be Jacques Brunel. Wins against France and Ireland are nothing to be sniffed at, and they run England close at Twickenham.

    Parisse should be man of the tournament because although he can be a mouthy get, his value to the italian team was highlighted by his absence when Italy lost to Wales and Scotland.

    Disappointment of the tournament? The fallout during whole Croft “spiting” row. Both players have denied it happened, but for 48 hours there was some truely awful comments and posts from English and Welsh fans on both twitter and facebook. It is disappointing to see Rugby fans act that way……

  4. i think geth is not understanding how good halfpenny really is. I will hit you with a statistic now (Halfpenny has not missed a tackle in 2 and a half years.) thats what you need from a fullback, yes he is a great kicker for wales and its hard to be put under pressure in fullback and under pressure in goalkicking (but he overcomes this by catching every high ball and kicking the hardest of goals for wales. Thats a number 1 fullback.

  5. i think geth is not understanding how good halfpenny really is. I will hit you with a statistic now (Halfpenny has not missed a tackle in 2 and a half years.) thats what you need from a fullback, yes he is a great kicker for wales and its hard to bse put under pressure in fullback and under pressure in goalkicking (but he overcomes this by catching every high ball and kicking the hardest of goals for wales. Thats a number 1 fullback.

  6. Jamie Halfpenny as a Tryo? I would understand if you where stating that he was improving game on game, match on match, but classing him as a beginner, a green horn, a novice???????????????????

  7. tey of the tournament for me was o’driscolls assist for zebo in on the left agqinst this years best team. best team at the moment? probably. disappointment from an irish point of view must surely be an epic injury list compounded by bad coaching from ireland. key players were poor qnd seemed to have low morale. ireland france or kidney are all contenders. player of the tournament: halfpenny, what a player. so impressed with him. a true great he is becoming and a unique 15.

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