Best of the Weekend: Six Nations dominated by the cold snap and sin-bin

Safe to say that was a rather unique weekend of Six Nations rugby. With a match called off for the first time in a decade, plus rugby in the snow in Rome, witnessing a normal green pitch at the Millennium Stadium was a touch boring. That being said, it produced the best half of the weekend.

Frightful performance in the snow sees England go two from two

As pretty as the Scotland game, with the same outcome, England may have won but their improvement was marginal. Overall, the longer the match progressed the more the different parts of their game improved. Creaking in the scrum early on, Alex Corbisiero and Dan Cole both improved with each engagement, putting in impressive shifts around the paddock as well. The lineout stuttered with Dylan Hartley struggling to find his man, but improved with Geoff Parling’s introduction late on. England’s bench played a major role in picking up the tempo in the second half.

No two players were more important in that tempo increase than Ben Morgan and Lee Dickson. Within seconds of being on the Scarlets number 8 had made the rare line break England had been looking for. With Dickson in control, England’s attack was transformed, and both must now start in two weeks time against Wales at Twickenham. Perhaps the most encouraging sign of all was Owen Farrell’s temperament. Battered and bloodied, his composure to land all of his five kicks is a superb omen for the future.

Farce in Paris sees the Stade de France beaten by the cold

It would take the cruelest soul to not feel sorry for all those who travelled all the way over to Paris for Saturday’s match, to have sat in their seats waiting patiently before being told the game was off. The Stade de France’s foundations prevent any undersoil heating from being installed, but sadly however no amount of covers or heaters were enough to keep the game on. Safety comes first, and if Dave Pearson was unhappy with the pitch, so be it. An earlier decision though would have no doubt diffused the uproar from players and fans alike.

Scottish heartbreak continues as Welsh ‘Grand Slam’ whispers gather pace

Oh Scotland. What are you doing to Andy Robinson’s health? The highlights reel that captured every single moment of Robinson’s anguish was excruciating viewing. To come so close to taking the lead in the first half, before the capitulation that came on the back of the two sin-binnings of Nick de Luca and Rory Lamont. With their lineout fixed after a stuttering first half, Wales suddenly grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

Three tries in 16 minutes sowed this game up. Leigh Halfpenny, without question his side’s best kicker, racked up an impressive 22 points scoring two tries. Sunday afternoon proved that to beat Wales you must starve them of possession, and unlike Scotland, ensure that all kicks find touch and do not fall into Halfpenny’s waiting hands. In an absurdly physical match, Dan Lydiate’s Man of the Match reward was deserved as he, Toby Faletau and Jamie Roberts were huge in defence for the men in red, whilst Jim Hamilton undoubtedly put in the hit of the weekend on George North in the first half. Wales’ new superstar’s departure was unpleasant viewing, with the winger’s ankle taking a nasty knock.

Samoa win Las Vegas 7s thanks to injury-time thriller

Finally over in sunny Las Vegas, Samoa pulled off a stunning win in the main final by pipping World Series leaders New Zealand 26-19 thanks to a try in overtime from Alafoti Faosiliva.

Try of the Weekend goes to that man Leigh Halfpenny for his second effort. Welsh dominance both numerically and in possession told as Faletau broke left off a 5 metre scrum, feeding Mike Phillips who offloaded to Leigh Halfpenny coming round the corner.

This weekend’s Hero is Owen Farrell. Battered and bloodied, the image of Farrell at the end could become iconic. Closely followed by the Ireland team for attempting to entertain the crowd with a game of touch rugby at the Stade de France.

As for a Villain, not Dave Pearson, or the French authorities, but the cold snap that prevented Saturday night’s match in Paris.

by Ben Coles

15 thoughts on “Best of the Weekend: Six Nations dominated by the cold snap and sin-bin

  1. Covers had been on since after the Italy match. With the cold it was inevitable. What they should have done was made it a lunchtime kickoff before the Italy v England match.

  2. Didn’t really mention him in the article, but thought Stuart Hogg was outstanding when he came on for Scotland. I’ve been singing his praises for a while and it was good to see him impress on debut.

  3. Ben, I think you’re being lenient on the French authorities by not making them the villains. Someone in the commentary said “it had been freezing in Paris all week”, so did they have covers over the pitch all week? From other comments I’ve heard over the weekend, it would appear they were totally un-prepred. On the BBC website it was reported that at 19:45 (15 minutes before kick off), they were bringing heaters on to the pitch to thaw out the frozen areas of the pitch. Disgraceful really that a modern stadium, in a country where the clubs are prepared to spend so much money securing player contracts, does not have the facilities to deal with this.

  4. I also would make the French to be villans this weekend…Its only because of TV executives greed that the game be played so late anyway…if it had of been played at 2pm or 4pm, the few degrees difference could of let the game go ahead…why do the Media always have to call the shots with the average joe fan being out of pocket? Also the French had all week to postpone the game, surely a 7 day forcast is not out of the question in this modern age?

  5. I agree Dazza, it did seem to be an avoidable situation. The cold weather was forecast, everyone knew it was coming but they still messed it up.

    Scheduling a mid-winter fixture for 9 o’clock at night seems pretty stupid in retrospect.

    Still, it probably means that one of the Six Nations-free weekends will now have some Six Nations action, so every cloud…

    1. Hadn’t thought of it like that, and I’m sure my wife would not agree with your glass half full point of view, but as she’s never seen this website, and will probably never read this, her opinion doesn’t matter…….must remember to get that valentines card at lunch time!

  6. BBC weather forecast on Friday evening was for below freezing all day in Paris after a -10 night so it was easy to predict what was about to happen .

    Seems strange that they couldn’t have organised an all pitch cover with blowers etc that vacum cleaner effort smacked of desperation or a sop to the poor supporters that had forked out to get there.

    Looks like it’s potentially the third of march for the replay and I’d organised a weekend away because it was a Six Nations free weekend too !

  7. Sounds like it froze after the covers were off then so as said the kick off time appears to be crucial , not easy to bring it forward on the day of the match though with thousands travelliing .

  8. From Paris :
    Weather forecast were pretty good.
    Two days before the match, the ground was checked … unplayable
    “France Television” has even made a proposition in order to play at 16 GMT (before Italy/England)

    VI Nations organisation refuse the proposition … “those who have paid .. for 22 GMT”
    After that … it is dillution of responsability. The referee is alone to judge what is known since at least a week

    Stupidity in action
    I am very sad for irish fans who came in Paris and Saint Denis

  9. Think Wales and under-pitch heating were the real winners this weekend. Don’t know which has the better chance of the Slam though!!!!

    1. Will certainly help the Welsh and could be the difference if Wales manage to beat England and Italy, France will have a far more congested and difficult run in and would definately put Wales as favourites

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