Martin Crowson looks back at five key points from the weekend's rugby union action
Martin Crowson looks back at five key points from the weekend's rugby action.
1 One of the most lasting memories I will take from the Millennium Stadium on Saturday was the Welsh journalist next to me trying to keep his emotions in check as his country edged ahead and then kept adding to their score. He was desperately battling to maintain his professionalism but, finally, small punches of the air turned to a deafening "yesssssssssssss" as Alex Cuthbert ran in his second try. Contrast that with the young England fan sat behind me staring into space with tears rolling down his cheek at the final whistle. It was an emotional day for all concerned.
2 Quite rightly, in the wake of such a wonderful performance, there were plenty of Welshmen – and women – in Cardiff saying this was the start of a golden era and that Warren Gatland should just "pick the whole of the Wales squad" for the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia. But a word of warning. Stopping England winning a Grand Slam in their own back garden is one thing, beating big southern hemisphere sides in the summer and autumn is another – something Wales have failed to do with regularity for some time.
3 If England fans were disappointed on Saturday night, their only solace was at least they were not French or Irish. Two teams that were supposed to be up at the top of the Six Nations table finished at the bottom. Ireland lost to Italy and have been stodgy and predictable for much of the tournament, while France came close to losing all five of their fixtures after an edgy victory at home to Scotland.
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4 At the risk of warranting some criticism, I thought referee Steve Walsh had a good game in the Six Nations title decider at the Millennium Stadium. England may have felt hard-done-to at the scrum at times, but he allowed the game to flow and gave the attacking team the benefit of the doubt at the breakdown. That created an exciting and fast-flowing contest and meant he was hardly noticed.
5 Back to domestic issues and the final five weeks of the Aviva Premiership season are set to be epic. There are some huge match-ups with 11 of the 12 teams still having something to play for. This week alone sees Leicester at Exeter, Harlequins at Saracens and Wasps host Northampton.