I spent Saturday watching the three final games of the Six Nations which ended with two sides tied for first place, France and Ireland. One of these two is likely to meet New Zealand in the Quarter Finals of the World Cup in September. The French squeezed in on points difference but are probably disappointed with a tournament which saw them humiliated by their arch enemy England at Twickenham. So, New Zealand and South Africa go into the World Cup as firm favorites with a group of death comprising three of the next top ranked teams, France, Argentina, Ireland, with only two to qualify.
The tournament is a fantastic feast of rugby for spectators, and the addition of spring weekends in Rome has been welcomed by everyone. It’s a much better spectator event than the Sanzar Tri-Nations which has become dull, predictable and stale. So while the rugby in the Six Nations is average at best and the Rugby in the Tri-Nations is exhilarating, the Six Nations competition is much sharper. It’s also a better TV spectacular and certainly a much better day out. In the end, I think Graham Henry and the All Blacks selectors will have been the most pleased with the Six Nations as neither of the top two teams progressed. And England were incoherent.
My 15 man team of the tournament: Dempsey Ireland 14, Lamont Scotland 13, Jauzion France 12, D’arcy Ireland 11, Hickie Ireland 10, O’Gara Ireland 9, Ellis England 1, Milloud France 2, Ibanez France 3, Nieto Italy 4, O’Connell Ireland 5, Bortolami Italy 6, Worsley England 8, Parisse Italy 7, Wallace Ireland 1.
Player of the tournament - Sergio Parisse, Turkey - Andy Farrell, England.