Six Nations 2021: Gerry Thornley’s highs and lows

Our rugby correspondent looks back on this year’s tournament

Damian Penaud dots down to score a try for France against England at Twickenham during the  2021 Guinness Six Nations. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

Damian Penaud dots down to score a try for France against England at Twickenham during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Inpho

 

Try of the tournament

Damien Penaud (France v England, Twickenham, round 4)
That rarity, a first phase, set-piece try. Gaël Fickou raced onto Julien Marchand’s long throw over the top and pulled the ball back for Antoine Dupont who passes behind Virimi Vakatawa (whose decoy run checks Henry Slade) to Mathieu Jalibert. His arcing run and looped skip pass takes out the last two English defenders for Penaud to score in the corner.

Stunning in both its simplicity and accuracy, almost Wallabies-like circa the 1990s.

France’s scrumhalf Antoine Dupont during the Six Nations game against Wales at the Stade de France. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images
France’s scrumhalf Antoine Dupont during the Six Nations game against Wales at the Stade de France. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images

Player of the Tournament

Antoine Dupont (France)
The most creative player in the tournament, witness the most try assists, Dupont is like a pocket rocket who can accelerate, step off both feet or bounce off tackles, and seemingly blessed with a 360-degree vision appears to know where everyone else is on the pitch.

Highlight of the Tournament

That man Dupont again, with that no-look popped offload into the air for Arthur Vincent’s walk-in against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in round one.

Lowlight of the tournament

Ellis Genge appearing to push his elbow into the head of a prone Johnny Sexton not being spotted by TMO Romain Poite and, worse again, not leading to a citing. Farcical.

Wales’ head coach Wayne Pivac walks on the pitch prior to the Six Nations match against France at the Stade de France. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images
Wales’ head coach Wayne Pivac walks on the pitch prior to the Six Nations match against France at the Stade de France. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP via Getty Images

Coach of the tournament

Wayne Pivac (Wales)
Seemingly on the cusp of being sacked going into the tournament, Pivac had begun to turn the corner by the end of 2020 and although Wales rode their luck to begin with, they improved with every match. They became clinical in their finishing with a Welsh championship record of 20 tries.

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