France stayed on track for a Grand Slam with an impressive 36-17 win over Scotland, while England and Ireland remained in the Six Nations title battle.
Below, AFP Sports looks at three things we learned from this weekend’s third round action:
Baille plays a sign of France’s progress
France ran in six attempts during a dominant display at Murrayfield.
Perhaps the pack’s pick came in the 13th minute when prop charged Cyril Baille in support of a stunning back-line move in front of it, despite being forced into a corner by five defenders, somehow managing a pass that gave Yoram Mufana sent.
It was hard to know whether Baille’s fitness – he kept going until the 58th minute – or skill was the more admirable quality.
Not so long ago, French teams were characterized by raw, if often sluggish, power.
But coach Fabien Galthie, appointed after Japan 2019, clearly has no time for players of suspicious stamina and that should make France all the more dangerous for the game’s biggest prize when they host next year’s World Cup.
Scrum delays still affect the game
England’s 23-19 win over reigning champions Wales in a messy game was beset by several delays, especially at the scrum, with former England hooker Brian Moore bemoaning the “endless” interruptions in a Twitter post.
Scottish referee Mike Adamson could have imposed his authority on Twickenham earlier, but scrum resets were a problem for more experienced officials.
A side effect of efforts to reduce the risk of injury caused by increasingly strong players on the scrum, which have not always been long affairs, is that what should have been an 80-minute match, according to Moore, took 101 minutes to complete. .
Law of unintended consequences hurts Italy
Italy suffered a 35th consecutive Six Nations defeat was no surprise and they were duly thrashed 57-6 by Ireland.
But an already difficult task was made almost impossible with Italy having to play an hour of the match in Dublin with two men after losing both of their hookers.
Gianmarco Lucchesi was injured after nine minutes and his replacement, Hame Faiva, had not been on the field long before he was sent off for a high tackle on Dan Sheehan.
Italy lacked anyone else capable of playing whore and that meant they also had to face the additional penalty of being reduced to 13 after forcing a need for unchallenged scrums due to a specialist being on the first. row was shown a red card.
The law, properly applied by Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli on his Six Nations debut, aims to prevent teams from undoing their opponents’ scrum by using a security measure.
A sport based on the principle of running forwards while the ball may only be passed backwards will undoubtedly cause deviations, but it was no wonder that Italian coach Kieran Crowley said of Sunday’s bizarre situation: “It is something that World Rugby will have to look at.”