Rugby

France in unfamiliar territory and Wales just miss record – Six Nations stats

The opening round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations produced three eventful games.

Ireland left France propping up the Six Nations table
Dan Sheehan, right, scores Ireland’s fourth try against France Ireland left France propping up the Six Nations table (Andrew Matthews/PA)

France prop up the Guinness Six Nations table for the first time in over a decade while Wales narrowly missed out on a record-breaking comeback win.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key statistics from the opening weekend.

Les Bleus feeling the blues

A 38-17 home defeat at the hands of Ireland left France bottom of the men’s standings for the first time since they finished with the wooden spoon in 2013.

In the Six Nations era, it was the first time they have conceded five tries in a home game and only once have they conceded more points at home, losing 43-35 to Wales in 2001 – indeed it is only the sixth time they have conceded 30 or more at home.

A 21-point margin made it by far their heaviest home defeat – they have lost only 14 of 61 such games and it is only the fourth by double figures. England won 24-13 in 2008 and 31-21 in 2016 while Wales won 16-6 in 2013.

For Ireland, it was only a fourth Six Nations win in France and beat their record points total away to Les Bleus, previously set in a 43-31 loss in 2006.

Wales fightback falls just short

Alex Mann scores Wales’ fourth try, earning them two bonus points even as their comeback fell just short
Alex Mann scores Wales’ fourth try against Scotland Alex Mann scores Wales’ fourth try, earning them two bonus points even as their comeback fell just short (Joe Giddens/PA)

Last place was assured for Les Bleus as Saturday’s two games both finished close, Wales and Italy gaining losing bonus points.

It did not look like being that way when Warren Gatland’s side trailed 27-0 to Scotland shortly after half-time, but James Botham’s try sparked a remarkable comeback that came up just short of setting a new Six Nations record.

Wales’ own win over France in 2019, when they trailed 16-0 at half-time before winning 24-19 with two George North tries, was the largest deficit previously overcome to win a game in the Six Nations or its predecessors. Scotland drew games from 31-0 down against England in 2019 and 25-6 against Wales in 2001.

Had Wales managed to finish the job on Saturday it would have matched the third-largest comeback win in Test history.

Korea’s 38-36 victory over Chile in 2016 holds the record, having trailed by 29 points at 36-7. Fiji recovered from 28-0 and 31-3 down to beat Tonga 41-38 in 2010 and Chile were on the receiving end of another stunning comeback in 2007, leading Uruguay 27-0 at the break but losing 35-34.

England’s win did not require the same drama even as they trailed twice in the first half in Rome. The visitors pulled out to a 10-point lead before Monty Ioane’s converted try four minutes beyond the regulation 80 made the final score 27-24 and earned Italy’s bonus point.