IT WAS a great final weekend for the Six Nations, even though Ireland took the prize.
It was still open with a couple of sides in the race and lots of different permutations.
I had some fears that it wouldn’t live up to expectations in terms of performances but that certainly wasn’t the case and it went right down to the wire, with the final Alexandre Lapandry pass which would have handed England the title going forward.
But while it was not the result we wanted it is exactly the type of excitement we want from the tournament.
England could not have done any more in their final match and putting the points difference aside to get any win in Italy is very hard.
It’s definitely not an easy job and we have seen sides go over there and get turned over plenty of times in recent years, but to get a win of that magnitude was brilliant.
Wales then ran Scotland ragged, but the red card to Stuart Hogg totally changed the game and handicapped the visitors.
The incident looked really nasty and even worse on the replays. The referee rightly upgraded the yellow card to red after seeing the footage and he has to be commended for that – I think it’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it but it demonstrates to players that you can’t get away with that sort of thing.
If anything it took the gloss off the victory for Wales. Even with a full complement I feel they would have let rip, but they were playing against 14 and perhaps won’t get the credit they deserve.
I said last week that we might well have had a performance from France and they were never going to roll over. They took it right to the finish line and were a really tough team to play but Ireland were deserved winners of the match and the Championship.
England will be ruing the small margins and that late try they conceded against France because if it wasn’t for that they would have won the lot and have a Grand Slam, but that’s sport.
But it once again raises the question of whether some sort of bonus-point system should be introduced – it would certainly make the tournament even more exciting.
Brian O’Driscoll called time on his international career and what a way it was for him to go out. He has been a huge influence on a lot of people and you can see just how much he means to the people of Ireland.
He has started and finished his career at the top of his game. He is still showing glimpses of excellence but has gone out on his own terms and not been pushed or overtaken.
Lancaster has struck the right balance
A LOT of people were not sure what to expect when Stuart Lancaster first took the role.
He walked into the Saxons relatively inexperienced but had done some amazing things at Leeds.
But he gets the guys up for it and talks extremely well. He is very good at managing the group and environment but most importantly he picks on form.
The way he is coaching also means the boys are playing a really balanced game and they probably played the best rugby in the Six Nations.
I know Stuart (left) well from my time in the system, but from speaking to Billy Twelvetrees it seems the environment is really good and the guys have been enjoying it.
In years gone by that has not always been the case, it has not been amazing. It’s been intense but not the most enjoyable, but it seems Lancaster has struck the right balance.
England will next come together for the summer tour of New Zealand and I’m not sure how they will treat it.
It will be interesting to see whether they will take a fully loaded squad or rest a few guys and give others like George Ford an opportunity.