It's time to draw a line under what has been a rip-roaring Six Nations and before memories of Supersonic Saturday recede, dish out some much-deserved gongs
Award for the best use of social media – #Finnocent
As Dan Biggar, arch proponent of the ‘kick and collect’ took to the air, Finn Russell, turned, like a deer caught in headlights, before the Welshman took a tumble face first over his shoulder. Yellow card, referee Glen Jackson called. Not bloody fair the Scots crowd countered, ‘he had his eyes on the ball’.
The indignation ratcheted up several notches when Russell was suspended for two weeks, leading to the obligatory hashtag #Finnocent to whistle round Twitter faster than a Kim Kardashian cleavage shot. To no avail, the ban was upheld and Russell missed the Italy game.
Award for best supporting role – Vincent Debaty
Morgan Freeman, George Clooney, Christian Bale. Best supporting roles at the Oscars, sure, but none of them can hold a candle to Big Vincent Debaty. Not since Graham Price gave chase in Paris, in 1975, had a member of the front row union gone so far above and beyond the call of duty.
The 6ft 3in, 20st loosehead, chuntered like a moose on gasoline after fleet-footed wing Noa Nakaitaci as he sped down the wing and as the Fijian was pulled down by Mike Brown and Ben Youngs, he took the pass to plop over the line. Merci, Vincent. Merci.
Award for the best impression of a crash test dummy – Jules Plisson
Poor fresh-faced whipper-snapper Jules Plisson. The Stade Francais fly-half still looks like his mother made his baguette before carting him off to Twickenham to face Les Anglais. She didn’t warn him about the very big boy with the red rose on his chest by the name of Courtney.
Like a Great White, the 6ft 7in lock lined up his prey, accelerated and drove unsuspecting Jules into the ground, with his head shaking like a rag doll. A more legitimate example of physical violence we’ve yet to see. Plisson lay in a heap, while his own big boys, led by Yoann Maestri, ran in to deliver some retribution to Courtney. One of the most visceral moments of the tournament
Award for the best impersonation of a game of rugby – Italy 0-29 France
My eyes, my eyes! Please stop this. I beg you. If martians were to land on earth and be shown the Italy v France game, they’d wonder how rugby had a 150-year history, such was the torpor in a game with no redeeming features. Thirty-seven (THIRTY-SEVEN!) handling errors countless reset scrums, a paucity of skill. It was just wretched. Imagine having to commentate on that. Not one for the highlights reel, more a flame-thrower. UNWORTHY OF VIDEO ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
Award for the best in-flight landing – Robbie Henshaw
In a game of brilliant Irish execution, the only try of the game, was a piece of surgical precision that put paid to England’s Grand Slam hopes. Conor Murray looked right, raised his right index finger to give Henshaw an indication that it was going up and dinked a delicious chip over the English defence.
The ball hung for a second before dropping into the dead-ball area. Alex Goode lost his bearings as Henshaw took to the air, caught the ball and with the dexterity of a 15st ballerina, managed to land inches from touch and ground the ball. It was a worthy winning try, alright.
Award for the best impersonation of a nightclub – Millennium Stadium
They like to ramp things up at the Millennium Stadium. With the crisp Cardiff air seeping into the seething cauldron, before the Wales-England game, organisers decided to blow the metaphorical roof off with a pyrotechnics and lights show that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Katy Perry concert (not that I’ve been…honest).
Dance music reverberated around the stadium for what seemed like an interminable amount of time while Wales and England bickered in the tunnel. England went on to win 21-16. Before the Wales v Ireland game, the disco was conspicuous by its absence. Funny that.
Award for best hit on an inanimate object – James Haskell
With Wales on the ropes like a punch drunk boxer, and the English running amok in Wales’ capital in a way reminiscent of the days Will Greenwood and co. used to plunder and score tries for fun, big old James Haskell took the ball on the hoof, 10 metres from the line.
The Welsh defenders, Leigh Halfpenny Alex Cuthbert and Taulupe Faletau were able to knock Haskell’s route one trajectory and he pirouetted off balance headfirst into the uprights, before bouncing back into the field of play.
Award for the best communicator – Nigel Owens
A self-confessed stand-up, Mynyddcerrig’s finest was again trotting out the best one-liners in the epic England v France match. One moment that has done the rounds on social media, is when our Nige, raised his hand for an infringement and Chris Robshaw the England captain tried to get in his ear to gain a small territorial advantage.
“I’m not moving”, but Sir,” it was over there”, countered Robshaw. Arm still aloft, Owens raised an eyebrow and said ‘Christopher’ in a head masterly tone. ‘Sorry, sir’ and Robshaw backtracked, head down. ‘Thank you’. Mike Brown was similarly put in his place. A clear front-runner for the Rugby World Cup final.
Award for most outrageous brain fade – Noa Nakaitaci
England were chasing points but France clearly hadn’t read the script. With the game finely poised at 7-8 and France in possession, the ball was recycled to the Stade Francais flyer Nakaitaci. He sped in unopposed from 40m and with no defenders in sight, started to run under the posts.
The nearest English defender, Ben Youngs, exerted a little pressure and Nakaitaci dotted down after he had appeared to have stepped beyond his deadball line. Nakaitaci waited, praying the replay would show he’d grounded the ball correctly. He had, by millimetres. Oh mon dieu.
Award for worst skullduggery of the tournament – Pascal Pape
The French pack are not renowned for their interest in knitting, dominoes and more placid pursuits. Given an inch, they’ll resort to the dark arts, more often than not. Down to Ireland and losing patience, at a ruck, all 18st of Pape ran at speed and dropped his left knee, what he thought was covertly, into Jamie Heaslip’s back to leave him in agony.
Pape was shown a yellow card and given a 10-week ban, despite offering a mea culpa on Twitter. Fortunately Heaslip has remarkable restorative powers and three broken vertebrae didn’t stop him playing a key part in Ireland’s Six Nations title.
The ‘Thierry Henry’ award for alienating an Irish nation – Yoann Huget
As the denouement to Supersonic Saturday reached its crescendo and the clock went into the red, the entire population of Ireland sat open-mouthed as Yoann Huget tossed his shaggy Gallic mop to tap and go UNDER HIS OWN POSTS. Maths may not have been a strong point for La Huge as they were 20 points down but he was having none of it.
Sadly, a wave of English shirts enveloped the recipient of the Huget pass, 24st, erm flyer Uini Atonio, and within seconds they were fighting for their lives. Fortunately for France, a later infringement saw Rory Kockott hoof the ball into Row Z to end the game. Madness, but how we’ve missed you France, you crazy cats.
Award for passable impression of red brick wall – Wales
In the second-half of the Wales v Ireland game, between the 49th and 56th minute, Wales endured a 49-phase defensive set against a relentless Ireland who repeatedly drove into the heart of the Welsh 22. When Ireland failed to break the line, the guttural cheer from the Welsh crowd caused ripples in the River Taff.
Such was the ferocity of the encounter that statisticians lost count of the number of tacklers. When the figures were totted up, Wales had smashed the previous tackles record by 38, racking up 250 tackles, or one every 20 seconds. That’s bravery for you.