How the 2020 Six Nations was won
Nearly 9 months after it began, finally, the 2020 Six Nations was won. Eddie Jones’ England sealed their third Six Nations crown since 2016 after a 34-5 victory over Italy. Securing top spot on points difference. France then ran out 35-27 winners against rivals Ireland, a result not good enough for either side to overtake them.
Going into the final weekend, three nations could still, mathematically, have taken home the crown. The race for the Championship was wide open with one fixture remaining with France, England and 2018 Grand Slam winners Ireland, all able to finish top of the table. The Irish, who dispatched Italy 50-17 last week, were the only nation who had their fate in their own hands. After the final whistle blew in Rome, they knew that defeating France by 7 points or more would secure the Championship. In addition, Les Blues knew that a 31 point victory was the minimum required for overall victory. In the end, neither side got what they wanted. Let’s look back on how the 2020 Six Nations was won.
How the 2020 Six Nations was won
Opening weekend defeat
It couldn’t have started much worse for the eventual champions back at the start of February. Wales had crushed Italy 42-0 and Ireland narrowly edged out Scotland 19-12. The day after, England travelled to Paris to face France. A new look French side. A French side who raced into a 17-0 lead at half time. The first time in 32 years that England had failed to register a single first half point in a Six Nations match. Despite a second half fight back in the form of two Jonny May tries, Les Blues managed to hold on for a famous 24-17 victory at the Stade de France.
The defeat was a real shock for Eddie Jones and his men. The manager promised before the game to unleash “absolute brutality” on the French side, whose players averaged only 10 caps apiece. The defeat left England’s Grand Slam hopes on the floor at the first hurdle. A catalogue of errors all over the pitch and an uncharacteristic slow start left many questions for England to take to Murrayfield six days later.
Full time here in Paris and France have won after a disappointing performance from England.
Match report to follow. pic.twitter.com/M9yUHvCuLh
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 2, 2020
Calcutta Cup regained
Thankfully for Jones, he did not have to wait too long for his team to bounce back as they avoided a third straight test defeat at Murrayfield. Winning the Calcutta Cup for the first time in two years with a scrappy 13-6 victory. In wet and stormy conditions, both teams struggled to get to grips with the game and England produced another low scoring half, only leading 3-0. The big breakthrough came just 10 minutes from time as Ellis Genge went over for the only try of the match in a game that could not have been more polar opposite to the thrilling 38-38 draw the year before.
It was not a memorable match. Nor did either side produce too many moments of high quality rugby. This Calcutta Cup victory, was however, a welcome return to winning ways for Eddie Jones’ side. Stand out performances by Maro Itoje and Jonny May also gave fans plenty of reason to be hopeful for the coming matches against opposition that would be more testing.
It wasn't pretty but England got the job done at Murrayfield to win back the Calcutta Cup and keep their Six Nations title hopes alive.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 8, 2020
Dashing Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes
When looking back on how the 2020 Six Nations was won, this weekend proved vital. Finally, England would show some of the form that took them all the way to the World Cup Final less than twelve months previously. With no Storm Ciara to contend with, England began on the front foot right from the off at Twickenham. First half tries from George Ford and Elliot Daly punished an unusually lapse Irish defensive line as the home team raced into a huge 17-0 lead.
After that, Ireland gradually clawed their way into the game but were unable to pull it back. A third England try eventually killed the game off as an impressive performance ended Irish hopes of a Grand Slam. The 24-12 score line certainly didn’t flatter the hosts, who put themselves back into championship contention. Elsewhere, France beat Wales 27-23 to end Welsh hopes of retaining their Six Nations crown. The French keeping themselves in contention for their first Grand Slam in a decade in the process.
Triple Crown glory
If the victory over Ireland was routine, things were far less straightforward against Wales. The stakes were high, as they always are, between the two rivals. England were looking for revenge against a side who, courtesy of two late tries, beat them 21-13 in Cardiff last tournament. While Wales, who went on to win a Grand Slam last year, were looking to avoid a third successive defeat. With high stakes for both teams, the match did not disappoint. Under the dark cloud of the impending suspension, the match produced plenty of drama. It was England who took control of the contest early on. Just as they did against Ireland, racing into a 20-9 lead at half time. Tries from Anthony Watson and Elliot Daly, put them into a commanding position at the break.
Wales responded with a try of their own before Manu Tuilagi went over to seemingly end the contest. With George Ellis already in the sin bin, Tuilagi was then shown a controversial red for a tackle on George North . Wales had the chance to mount a comeback against the 13 men. Like the year before they managed to muster up two tries, however ultimately coming up short, unable to make up the deficit this time. In the end, a 33-30 score didn’t tell the entire story. It was, however, another good England performance to secure a Triple Crown. Their first Triple Crown in four years. Better news was still to come the following day. Scotland produced an impressive display against leaders France, ending French hopes of a Grand Slam. Throwing the Six Nations title race wide open once more.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 7, 2020
2020 Six Nations Champions
After a seven months break during the summer, it was announced that the remaining fixtures would be played in October. With three teams still in contention to win this years Championship and finish a tough year, in every sense of the word, on a high.
After securing a bonus point victory against Italy and neither Ireland or France getting the result they needed, England were finally crowned Six Nations Champions. The opening weekend defeat to France seems like a long time ago. Not just because it was literally 9 months ago either. The remaining fixtures, played without fans, certainly lacked the atmosphere that rugby fans have become accustomed to. The end of this campaign has been eerily quiet and unusual. Despite this, there is a sense of relief and gratitude that the competition was finally able to get its conclusion and with it, England can celebrate a victory that will certainly be remembered for a long time. This is how the 2020 Six Nations was won and no team will quite win it like this again.
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