Guinness Six Nations: Top 10 upsets

Italy players celebrate at the final whistle 19/3/2022
The 2023 Guinness Six Nations is just around the corner and plenty of people will tell you they know exactly how it will play out.

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations is just around the corner and plenty of people will tell you they know exactly how it will play out.

But favourites are there to be toppled and odds to be defied.

There is nothing more enthralling than watching a team rise above estimations and stun their opponents with an unlikely victory.

Here we take a glance back through history at ten of the biggest upsets in Guinness Six Nations history.

Italy 34-20 Scotland (2000)

No one gave Championship debutants Italy a chance against the reigning title-holders at the beginning of the century.

But the punters did not count on Diego Dominguez kicking 29 points from six penalties, three drop goals and a conversion.

While Italy had recorded a number of notable wins prior to entry into the Championship, this was still a major shock and the 12 points spurned from the tee by Kenny Logan still would not have been enough to overturn the result.

Scotland 19-13 England (2000)

Just two months later, Scotland were still without a win in the 2000 Six Nations and England had just been confirmed champions with a Grand Slam within their reach.

But the combination of a second-half deluge and a fearless Scotland side roared on by an unrelenting Murrayfield crowd produced one of the biggest shocks to date.

All 19 of Scotland’s points came from fly-half Duncan Hodge, including a late try from close range, but the victory will be remembered for the dogged determination of everyone in navy blue.

England 13-19 Ireland (2004)

Grand Slam champions England were hosting their first match at Twickenham since winning the Rugby World Cup, last falling to defeat at HQ in 1999.

But four first-half penalties from Ronan O’Gara and Girvan Dempsey’s try in the 52nd minute turned the match, which saw England lead 10-6 at one stage, on its head.

Paul Grayson’s three-pointer late on offered the hosts a way back, but Eddie O’Sullivan’s men held on for their first victory at Twickenham since 1994.

England 19-26 Wales (2008)

On their way to a second Grand Slam in four years, an almighty fightback from Warren Gatland’s Wales consigned 2007 World Cup finalists England to an opening day defeat at Twickenham.

Fresh from pool stage elimination at the World Cup, Wales needed just 13 breathless second-half minutes to roar back from 19-6 down to lead by seven points going into the final stages.

Tries in quick succession from Lee Byrne and Mike Phillips handed Gatland a win in his first game as Wales head coach and the nation’s first over England at Twickenham for 20 years.

Italy 22-21 France (2011)

Grand Slam champions France had never lost to the Azzurri on Italian soil and were not expected to do so in 2011 with Marc Lièvremont’s side in fine shape with an experienced squad that would go on to reach the World Cup final.

This nail-biter was evenly matched at the break, with Mirco Bergamasco’s pair of penalties keeping Italy within touching distance at 8-6.

And Bergamasco’s boot would make all the difference to come back from 18-6, adding the extras for Andrea Masi’s try and slotting three more pressure penalties, the last in the 75th minute.

Italy 22-15 Ireland (2013)

Italy had their best finish in the Championship in 2013, a first win over Ireland in the Six Nations confirming a memorable fourth place.

At a packed Stadio Olimpico, the Azzurri impressively limited Ireland’s attack, avoiding conceding a try while Gionvanbattista Venditti went over early in the second half.

Paddy Jackson’s three penalties in ten minutes set Jacques Brunel’s teeth on edge but Luciano Orquera kicked two of his own to make sure of a famous Italian victory.

Ireland 20-32 England (2019)

Unbeaten records tumbled at the Aviva Stadium in Round 1, as England overcame Ireland in Dublin for the first time in six years.

They travelled to take on a team that had won a Grand Slam in 2018 and followed it up with a first win over New Zealand on Irish soil.

You had to go back to 2011 for England’s last try in the Dublin but it took Jonny May just 90 seconds to dive over the whitewash.

Three more would follow from Elliot Daly and Henry Slade, twice, over the course of the 80 to record an emphatic win over the reigning champions.

France 24-17 England (2020)

The portents ominously pointed to an away win for the recent World Cup finalists at the Stade de France.

It was four years since France had won their opening Guinness Six Nations match and six since England had lost theirs.

But by the break Les Bleus were 17-0 up, the first time England had failed to score a single point in the first half since 1988.

It got worse for England five minutes into the second as Charles Ollivon grabbed his second try and even though the away team rallied through a Jonny May double, it was too little, too late.

They did manage to scramble a late losing bonus point however, which proved the difference as they took the title from France on points difference.

England 6-11 Scotland (2021)

Another opening day shock involving Eddie Jones’ men went the way of Scotland inside an eerily empty Twickenham.

The notoriously rotten English weather played its part on the 150th anniversary of the two nations’ first meeting as Duhan van der Merwe smashed through three defenders to cross.

Owen Farrell’s two penalties were matched by Finn Russell and the Scots’ resolute defence saw them over the line for their first Guinness Six Nations win at Twickenham.

Wales 21-22 Italy (2022)

Seven years and 36 matches since their last Championship victory and Italy finally had something to celebrate.

A first ever away win over Wales seemed increasingly unlikely as the minutes ticked by, particularly after Josh Adams’ try put Wayne Pivac’s men 21-15 ahead in the 68th minute.

But a stunning, shimmying run from first-time starter Ange Capuozzo in the final minute set up Edoardo Padovani to dot down and Paolo Garbisi held his nerve from the tee to make history.