The penultimate round of this year’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations provided some shock results, with Italy upsetting the Scots in Rome before England snapped Ireland’s record-equalling win streak in the Championship with a last-gasp drop goal. The final match of the weekend saw Wales fall at home to a French team who rediscovered their spark in the second half in Cardiff to seal what was eventually a comfortable victory.

Seven of the 12 matches this year have finished with four points or fewer separating the sides, with six of those games seeing the teams separated by no more than three points. Not since 1985 has an edition of the Championship seen at least half of its fixtures decided by three points or fewer (5/10). It is a stark contrast last year’s Six Nations when the smallest winning margin was five points and only two games were decided by single-figure margins (England vs Scotland, Italy vs France – both in Round 1).

Our experts from OptaJonny dive into the key facts and post-match data from the fourth round of the Six Nations 2024 to see where each game was won and lost…

Italy 31-29 Scotland

  • Italy won a home match in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations for the first time since 2013 (vs Ireland), ending a run of 26 consecutive defeats on home soil in the Championship. After drawing their previous match (13-13 v France), Italy have now gone unbeaten in consecutive games in the Six Nations for the first time since 2012-13 (W2 vs Scotland & France).
  • Six of Italy’s 14 victories in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations have come in home games against Scotland, making it their most successful fixture; overall they’ve beaten Scotland on eight occasions in the Championship (also two away wins), over twice as often as they’ve beaten any other nation (W3 vs Wales).
  • Scotland’s Finn Russell slotted his first three kicks at goal against Italy, before missing with his fourth; it meant he’d slotted 22 in a row in the Six Nations, the second longest run by any player in the history of the Championship, with only fellow countryman Chris Paterson having made more consecutive kicks at goal (35 between 2008 and 2010).
  • Louis Lynagh scored on his Six Nations debut for Italy, the first Italy player to score on their Championship debut since Ange Capuozzo, who scored two on debut in 2022, also against Scotland.
  • Italy skipper Michele Lamaro made 27 tackles against Scotland, the most ever by an Italian player in the Six Nations, surpassing the previous best of 26 by Maxime Mbanda against Wales in 2017.
Italy vs Scotland Six Nations Stats

England 23-22 Ireland

  • England ended Ireland’s run of 11 straight victories in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations – it was the joint longest winning run in Championship history alongside England’s 11 wins between 2015 and 2017. England have won each of their home fixtures in an edition of the Championship for the first time since 2020 (v Ireland and Wales).
  • Danny Care won his 100th Test cap in this match, becoming the 6th player to reach a century of appearances for the England men’s team, after Jason Leonard, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, Dan Cole and Courtney Lawes.
  • Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony was shown a yellow card in this match, the fourth time he’s been carded in a Six Nations fixture (3 yellows, 1 red), the joint most of any Ireland player (Conor Murray – 4 YC), with only Liam Williams (5 YC) and Finn Russell (4 YC, 1 RC) receiving more in the Championship’s history.
  • Ben Earl beat eight defenders against Ireland, Billy Vunipola is the only forward to beat more for England in a Six Nations match (9 v Ireland in 2016); his tally of 20 carries was also the most by any England player in a match in the Championship since Vunipola made 20 against Wales in 2019.
  • Marcus Smith slotted the winning drop goal for England against Ireland, their seventh drop goal since the beginning of the 2023 Rugby World Cup – no other nation has made more than one in that period; their seven drop goals have been made by three different players (George Ford – 4, Owen Farrell – 2, Marcus Smith – 1).
England vs Ireland Six Nations Stas

Wales 24-45 France

  • France have won each of their last six men’s Test matches against Wales after winning just one in nine against them previously (L8), it is Les Bleus’ longest winning streak against Wales since a run of 12 victories between 1983 and 1993; France’s tally of 45 points was their most ever against Wales in Cardiff.
  • Wales have now lost each of their first four matches in this year’s Six Nations, just the third time that they have been without a win heading into the final round since Italy joined the competition in 2000 (also 2003 and 2007).
  • France conceded just three penalties against Wales, their fewest ever in a Six Nations match, and the fewest of any team in the Championship since Wales conceded two against England in February 2018.
  • Thomas Ramos scored 20 points against Wales, the most by any player in a men’s Six Nations match this year and the most by any France player against Wales in the Championship since Jean-Baptiste Elissalde in 2004 (24). Gael Fickou scored his 12th try in the Six Nations, moving him clear of Vincent Clerc (11) as France’s 2nd top try scorer in the Championship since Italy joined in 2000 (Damian Penaud, 15).
  • Dafydd Jenkins made 26 tackles without missing any, only one player has made more while maintain a 100% tackle success rate in a single Guinness Men’s Six Nations match – compatriot Luke Charteris, who made 31/31 against Ireland in 2015.

Enjoy this? Check out our other Rugby Union content on Opta Analyst. You should also follow our social accounts over on XInstagramTikTok and Facebook.