Rugby

A look at 3 exciting Six Nations weekends following a memorable fourth round

The Six Nations has a reputation for providing thrilling action.

England’s Marcus Smith celebrates his winning drop-goal against Ireland
Marcus Smith England’s Marcus Smith celebrates his winning drop-goal against Ireland (David Davies/PA)

The 2024 Guinness Six Nations burst into life with a memorable fourth round of action that produced thrilling victories for Italy, England and France.

Here, the PA news agency looks at three of the most exciting weekends in Six Nations history.

2024 (March 9-10)

Ireland had dominated the competition across its opening rounds, recording three bonus-point victories on what seemed a relentless march towards achieving historic back-to-back Grand Slams, but it all changed in a Twickenham thriller against England.

Steve Borthwick’s team went toe-to-toe with their opponents, outscoring them 3-2 on tries before fly-half Marcus Smith dropped a goal with the final act of a pulsating contest that showcased England’s finest display since their 2019 World Cup semi-final success against New Zealand.

Just a few hours earlier, resurgent Italy posted their first Six Nations win in Rome for 11 years, with Test debutant Louis Lynagh – son of former Australia star Michael Lynagh – scoring one of their tries, and France overcame Wales 45-24 a day later in a mad-cap Principality Stadium clash that included an audacious 40-metre reverse pass by Les Blues scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec to his half-back partner Thomas Ramos. The whole weekend delivered 174 points and 20 tries.

2015 (March 21)

Ireland players celebrate winning the 2015 Six Nations title
Ireland Ireland players celebrate winning the 2015 Six Nations title (Mark Runnacles/PA)

Viewed by many as the greatest ‘Super Saturday’ of all, three teams – Wales, Ireland and England – went into the tournament’s final weekend all with a chance of being crowned Six Nations champions.

Wales were first out of the blocks, and they did not disappoint as George North scored three tries in a 61-20 rout of Italy. That immediately piled pressure on Ireland, who knew that a 21-point winning margin against Scotland at Murrayfield would put them top, and they responded impressively to claim a 40-10 victory and leave England needing a minimum 26-point success at the expense of Twickenham visitors France to win the title.

They gave it everything in a classic 12-try contest as England triumphed 55-35. They ended agonisingly short of their target, and the title was decided on points difference in Ireland’s favour. It had been a breathtaking finale.

2013 (March 16)

Alex Cuthbert scored two tries for Wales in a 30-3 victory over England
Alex Cuthbert Alex Cuthbert scored two tries for Wales in a 30-3 victory over England (David Davies/PA)

England headed to Cardiff with a first Six Nations Grand Slam for 10 years in their sights, but it all unravelled spectacularly on one of the greatest days in Welsh rugby history.

Wales had a chance of silverware themselves, needing victory by seven points or more for back-to-back Six Nations titles, and they delivered with a devastating display that saw them claim a record 30-3 win against their fiercest rivals. Wing Alex Cuthbert scored two tries, and England had to be content with the runners-up spot.

Earlier the same day, Ireland were reduced to ruins in Rome as Italy’s 22-15 triumph gave them two wins during one Six Nations campaign for the first time since 2007. The Azzurri had never previously beaten Ireland on the Six Nations stage, but nothing could eclipse events in Wales.