Two breathless rounds of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations have concluded and plenty of British & Irish Lions stars have played starring roles.
Ireland have started with intent as they look to seal back-to-back Grand Slams while England are also sitting pretty on two wins from two.
Scotland came within a whisker of joining them but were edged out by France while Wales are still to get off the mark following two defeats by the narrowest of margins.
With a rest week next weekend, here is how things stand going into Round 3…
🙌 How things stand after round 2 🤩#GuinnessM6N pic.twitter.com/8AQcfW2VWS
— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 11, 2024
Ireland set the pace
Andy Farrell will lead the Lions to Australia in 2025 but he has his sights set on more silverware with Ireland before then.
They have gone about retaining their crown impressively, opening up with a statement 38-17 win over France in Marseille.
That was followed by a 36-0 victory against Italy in Dublin, 2021 tourist Jack Conan among the try-scorers as Ireland crossed six times in all while they shut their opposition out in this competition for the first time since 1987.
“We are happy enough,” Farrell said following Sunday’s win at the Aviva Stadium, which will host the Lions’ clash with Argentina next summer.
“We got what we wanted out of the game and keeping them to zero is very pleasing. There were some nice tries and nice individual performances out there.”
Wales are next to try and tame the green machine, as Lions coaches past and future go head-to-head in Round 3.
England rebuild starts promisingly
England have brought in plenty of fresh faces as they begin a post-World Cup rebuild which has started with successive wins.
A 27-24 victory in Rome on the opening weekend was followed by a similarly tense 16-14 success against Wales at Twickenham, George Ford’s late penalty settling a close contest.
Steve Borthwick, part of the Lions coaching staff in New Zealand in 2017, has praised his players for ‘finding a way’ to win when not at their best and his charges will be quietly confident of mounting a first Championship challenge since 2020.
Scotland at Scottish Gas Murrayfield is next up as England look to reverse their recent struggles against their rivals from north of the border.
Scotland and Wales bidding for improvement
Principality Stadium played host to a classic encounter in Round 1 as Wales almost pulled off the comeback to end all comebacks.
Scotland eased into a 27-0 lead, 2021 tourist Duhan van der Merwe scoring twice, but a stirring second-half display from Wales saw them pull to within a point before ultimately falling just short.
Gregor Townsend’s side were involved in another nail-biter on Saturday when France visited Edinburgh.
Ben White’s try and 11 points from the boot of Lion #835 Finn Russell helped Scotland into the lead approaching the closing stages.
🤩 Top class from @ScotlandTeam 🔥
Ben White opens the scores in Edinburgh 🙌#GuinnessM6N #SCOFRA pic.twitter.com/0ElkPsZlaf
— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 10, 2024
But a moment of magic from Louis Bielle-Biarrey to turn the game on its head and help France run out 20-16 winners, with the hosts inches away from a late try which would have made it back-to-back wins.
Wales, led by three-time Lions head coach Warren Gatland, are the only one of the home nations yet to win but will take plenty of positives from their first two outings.
Several of their young guns have impressed while one of their experienced heads, star of the 2013 Tour George North, is looking forward to the challenge Ireland will pose in a fortnight.
“The boys know we have a great opportunity and you have to embrace it and take it with both hands,” he said.
“It is the next big push for us. We need to look at ourselves quickly and then go to Dublin.”