Saturday’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations fixtures brought plenty of drama, with both matches going right down to the wire. France and England won despite both teams only taking the lead in the 72nd minute of their matches, with England now boasting a 100% record after the opening two rounds despite trailing at half-time in both fixtures. In fact, three games already this year have been won by the team trailing at half-time (also France against Scotland), something that had happened just once across the previous two editions of the Championship.
In contrast, Ireland – who are yet to even trail in a match so far this year – cruised to victory against the Azzurri on Sunday. They’ve now won their opening two matches by a combined margin of 57 points, while the four other matches across the first two weekends of the Championship have seen a combined winning margin of just 10 points, with no match won by more than four points.
Our experts from OptaJonny dive into the key facts and post-match data from the second round of Six Nations 2024 fixtures to see where each game was won and lost…
Scotland 16-20 France
- France defeated Scotland despite trailing at half-time, the first time they had won a match in the Championship after trailing at the break since 2016 vs Ireland; they had lost 11 such games since then, before this victory against Scotland.
- Damian Penaud won his 50th cap for France, but this was just the fourth time since the beginning of 2023 that he’d failed to score a try in a match for Les Bleus, with the UBB winger scoring in nine of his 13 Tests since the beginning of last year.
- Gael Fickou scored France’s opening try, his third in a row against Scotland in the Six Nations and his fifth overall, over twice as many as he’s scored against any other nation in the Championship (two each against Wales, England and Italy).
- Louis Bielle-Biarrey has scored six tries in just seven starts for France since making his Test debut in August last year. His debut came against Scotland, a game in which he also scored a try.
- Duhan van der Merwe failed to beat a single defender in a match for the first time for Scotland and for just the second time in his Test career after the second Lions Test against South Africa in 2021.
England 16-14 Wales
- Wales have won just one of their last 10 games in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations (L9), while they’ve lost each of their opening two matches in a campaign for the second consecutive year. Previously the last time they’d failed to win at least one game across the first two rounds was in 2007.
- Wales led 14-5 at half-time, the first time they’d ever gone into the break ahead at Twickenham in a Six Nations match. The last time they managed it in the Five or Six Nations was in 1980 (4-3 at HT).
- Despite trailing by nine points at the break England went on to win this match, the joint biggest half-time deficit they had ever overcome in a Test match (also vs Argentina in 2002, 3-12 at HT, 26-18 at FT).
- Wales didn’t concede a single penalty until the 42nd minute of this match. They had gone 101 minutes without conceding a penalty in the Six Nations up until that point (since the 21st minute vs Scotland), with their opponents conceding 20 penalties in that time (Scotland 14, England 6).
- George North made his 50th appearance in the Guinness Six Nations. In doing so, he became the fourth Welsh player to reach half a century in the Championship (since 2000), after Stephen Jones (50), Gethin Jenkins (56) and Alun Wyn Jones (67).
- Alex Mann scored a try against England after also crossing on his debut for Wales in Round 1. He’s just the sixth Wales player to score a try in the opening two rounds of a Six Nations campaign and the first Welsh forward to do so (also Shane Williams 2005, Leigh Halfpenny 2009, Rhys Webb 2015, Liam Williams 2017, Louis Rees-Zammit 2021).
Ireland 36-0 Italy
- Ireland have won 10 consecutive Guinness Men’s Six Nations matches, becoming just the second nation to win 10+ straight matches in the Championship since Italy joined in 2000 after England (W11, 2015-17).
- Andy Farrell’s side have also won each of their last 17 Test matches on home soil, their longest ever such run in men’s Test rugby.
- Ireland prevented Italy from scoring a single point, the first time they have held an opponent scoreless in the Five or Six Nations since a 17-0 home win against England in 1987. It is the seventh time Italy have been held scoreless in the Championship.
- Ireland led Italy by 19 points at half-time (19-0), becoming the first nation to have led at the interval in 10 successive Six Nations matches since Italy joined the Championship in 2000.
- Ireland made 12 line breaks against Italy, the first time a team has made more than six in this year’s Six Nations, and Ireland’s most in a Six Nations match since making 17 against Italy in 2020.
- Calvin Nash became just the third Irish player to score a try in each of his first two Six Nations appearances since 2000 after John Kelly and Shane Horgan.
- Teammate Dan Sheehan has scored five tries across his last three Six Nations matches and is the first hooker to have scored two tries in two separate matches in the Championship.