A brief look at different aspects of the six nations championship

RBS statistics for Six Nations may be a site for sore eyes

FORMER BRITISH Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once ventured that “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics”. He might have been referring to those statistics pertaining to rugby union in the current climate.

The RBS Six Nations website was a reference point for Monday’s Planet Six Nations with regard to several figures under a selection of headings. The problem is the statistics refer not to the Six Nations as claimed but more accurately to when RBS took over sponsorship. This explains one or two errors but not the one relating to Irish outhalf Ronan O’Gara’s points tally.

Irish rugby statistician Des Daly confirmed that O’Gara has 443 points (nine tries, 61 conversion, 89 penalties, three drop goals) and not 413 as listed.

To clarify one or two other matters, Aurelien Rougerie is France’s top try scorer since the tournament went to Six Nations with nine, one ahead of Vincent Clerc.

Fabien Pelous has made the most number of appearances in the Six Nations but with 35 and not 46 as listed on the RBS website.

Interestingly the site also lists O’Gara as the Ireland team captain while Phil Vickery is down to lead England: this obviously will be of interest to Brian O’Driscoll and Steve Borthwick.

Bragging rights

LONDON IRISH captain Bob Casey could come up against three of his clubmates during Friday’s A international at Donnybrook. Casey will captain Ireland A against an English Saxons squad – the team should be confirmed today – that includes the London Irish trio of scrumhalf Paul Hodgson, hooker David Paice and wing Topsy Ojo.

There should be some pretty keen competition to secure the bragging rights when the quartet return to the Madjeski Stadium.

Did you know . . .

FRANCE WERE expelled from the Five Nations Championship in 1932 because of rumours of professionalism in what was then supposed to be an amateur sport. They rejoined in 1947.

France and Italy play for the Giuseppe Garibaldi trophy during the Six Nations Championship.

The Garibaldi trophy was designed by former French rugby great Jean Pierre Rives, who went on to become an internationally acclaimed sculptor after retiring from the sport.

The Garibaldi trophy is named in honour of the Nice-born Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi (not after the biscuit), and a one-time French general during Franco-Prussian war.

The last team to win the old Five Nations Championship was Scotland in 1999 before Italy’s official inclusion turned the tournament into the Six Nations Championship.

French milestones

THE FIRST recorded game in France was played by English students at Le Havre in 1870 and the sport did not reach the capital, Paris, for another seven years.

The first French Championship final took place in 1892 when Racing Club de France beat Stade Francais 4-3 in a match refereed by the founder of the modern Olympic movement Baron Pierre de Coubertin. It was therefore of little surprise to learn that France introduced rugby to the 1904 Olympic Games. France joined the four Home Nations to form the Five Nations Championship in 1910 and enjoyed their first victory a year later when beating Scotland 16-15 at Stades Colombes.

Ireland aim for fourth or better

THE IRELAND women’s rugby team must finish fourth or better in their upcoming Six Nations Championship to qualify automatically for the World Cup, which takes place in London next year. If they finish in the bottom two then they will have to travel to Sweden this summer to take part in the European Trophy, the backdoor route to the World Cup.

Steve Hennessy (St Mary’s College) has replaced John O’Sullivan as head coach while Joy Neville is captain as they prepare to take on France at Templeville Road on Friday night.

Hennessy said: “A win against the likes of France or England would give a massive boost to the squad. The girls were very disappointed to lose to England in December.”

IRELAND WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS FIXTURES: Friday:Ireland v France, Templeville Road (7.30). Saturday, February 14th:Italy v Ireland, Stadio M Natali, Colleferro (2.0) Friday, February 27th:Ireland v England, Templeville Road (6.30). Friday, March 13th:Scotland v Ireland, Meggetland (7.0). Saturday, March 21st:Wales v Ireland, Taffs Wells (1.0).