Tyrone Howe: Special moments made this far from the worst Six Nations
The question was posed whether this was the worst Six Nations ever and my answer was a resounding no!
It might feel like this to some people only because we have been spoilt for so long. Let’s not forget that 2004 marked the first Triple Crown in 19 years and since then we have experienced further Crowns and that elusive Grand Slam.
I often think that a Six Nations is a bit like giving a speech. If you can start off well and finish with a flourish, then it doesn’t really matter what is said in the middle. The problem with this Championship is that it started off like a damp squib, as Ireland toiled to overcome an Italian side that only arrived with damage limitation on its mind. Then, we were all looking forward to watching France lifting the Grand Slam with a captivating performance against England. Again, very much an anticlimax.
Nonetheless, within the Championship there was plenty of drama and some moments of individual and collective magic. How often did we see matches go down to the last few minutes keeping us glued to our seats and TV screens? I witnessed the scene in Richmond the same night Tommy Bowe brought the shutters down on England. The chants of his name confirmed that away victories at Twickenham still retain a priceless value.
The Six Nations is about a lot more than just quality of rugby. Why? Because it is heaped with pressure. It is akin to five one-off Cup finals, and inevitably this overrides the desire to entertain or commitment to open rugby. Wales tried it and paid the price, as did Ireland in their defeat to Scotland. Apart from France, there is a real sense of what might have been for every other competing nation, but this should not take away from the fact that thousands travelled, millions watched, cheered and groaned, friendships were renewed, and some are already thinking about 2011.
It may not have been the best, but it was certainly far from the worst.