While Ireland, the world’s first nation, concretized its superiority with a title and a Grand Slam, the 2023 Six Nations Tournament allowed the Blues to gauge themselves one last time before the 2023 World Cup in France. A successful tournament which was hailed in “Europe 1 Sport” by René Bouscatel, the president of the National Rugby League (LNR).
Less than six months from the World Cup in France (September 8 – October 28), the XV of Clover has become the favorite for the title, which it has never won, alongside the French hosts, the All Blacks neo -Zealanders and defending South African champions. The Blues, second in the competition, did not fail and confirmed their good form a few months before the big deadline. “I am happy that we are second, it bodes well for the World Cup”, reacted René Bouscatel, president of the National Rugby League, in the program Europe 1 Sports (every evening from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.).
The XV of France is “perfectly prepared”, estimated René Bouscatel the latter. “The results are positive. There are four wins with three away matches,” added Mathieu Blin. Despite the many injuries like that of Gabin Villière, the staff managed to overcome these hard knocks. “We felt that we had a real reservoir,” Mathieu Blin was optimistic.
Ireland at the top
In five victories, four of which were bonuses, Andy Farrell’s men made their class speak, setting a new record for points scored in the Tournament (27, out of a possible 28). Thanks to an impressive mastery of its game system, players in the fullness of their talent (how not to mention Josh van der Flier, Jonathan Sexton, Caelan Doris?) and a respected and self-confident coach, Ireland cannot to calmly see its future.
On the Scottish side, Gregor Townsend’s men, current fifth in the world rankings, have clearly passed a milestone in this 2023 edition. They have already started by renewing for the third consecutive year the always difficult task of winning against England. England (29-23), and what’s more at Twickenham. But above all they managed to follow up, which they couldn’t do previously, by clearly winning at Murrayfield against Wales (35-7).
Then stopped by the Blues in Saint-Denis (32-21) then by Ireland in Edinburgh (7-22) before dominating Italy (26-14), the teammates of Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell deserve their third place in this tournament. Carried in particular by their colossal winger Duhan van der Merwe, their progress is undeniable, both from a point of view of physical commitment, efficiency, and offensive animation. It will be necessary to be wary of them in the fall at the World Cup, where they were poured into Pool B.
England at a crossroads
Steve Borthwick knew, when taking the reins of a XV de la Rose in crisis after a 2022 season well below his standards, that he would have his work cut out for him. After the knockdown (53-10) received at Twickenham by France, the coach could only see “the gap” between England and the best teams in the world and the workload that will have to be accomplished before the Global.
Winners of Italy (31-14) and Wales (20-10), the English were hesitant in their game, too vague, as well as in the choice of their leaders, between Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell in particular . Sign of hope, however, they did more than hang Ireland (29-16) in Dublin on the last day.
Wales under construction
Defeated in their first three matches of the competition, scoring only one try each time, the Welsh have shown a worrying offensive and defensive weakness, they who only two years ago had won the title. Since then, the Leek XV has experienced several turbulent phases – the last of which were nothing less than accusations of sexism within the Federation (WRU) and a threat of a strike from the players during the Tournament – which affected the players as well as the staff.
“I don’t know if I managed to manage that,” admitted coach Warren Gatland, called to the rescue three months ago, in the columns of the Team on Saturday. “So much has happened throughout this tournament, behind the scenes, and it has had an emotional impact on the players.” A mental trainer, or even a whole squad, will not be too much to boost the morale of the troops as the World Cup approaches, which the Welsh will start on September 10 against Fiji.
Brayden White, a veteran sports writer at Global Happening, brings his wealth of knowledge and expertise to the sports section. With over a decade of experience, he is committed to delivering high-quality coverage of the latest games and events.