The story of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations

Ireland were triumphant on Super Saturday, wrapping up the Grand Slam and bringing perhaps their greatest Guinness Six Nations campaign ever to a close.

Ireland were triumphant on Super Saturday, wrapping up the Grand Slam and bringing perhaps their greatest Guinness Six Nations campaign ever to a close.

Five games, five wins, a Triple Crown and the Championship, nobody came close to stopping Andy Farrell’s side over a breath-taking eight weeks.

But there was so much more to see during Rugby’s Greatest Championship.

France showed why they are the second best team in the world, recording convincing victories against some of the best the northern hemisphere has to offer.

Scotland showed significant signs of improvement, suggesting they may be a force at the top of the Championship in years to come.

Italy may have lost all five of their fixtures, but they played some of their best rugby in years, while England and Wales learnt how difficult it is to change a coach at this stage in a World Cup cycle.

It has been a fascinating ride, and now that it has come to an end, let us take a look back at the 2023 Guinness Six Nations.

Round 1

It only took Ireland two minutes to get their campaign off to the perfect start.

Caelan Doris’ early try at Principality Stadium helped them to a first win in Cardiff in a decade, handing the returning Warren Gatland a 34-10 defeat in Round 1.

However, Gatland was not the only new head coach to get off to a losing start, with Steve Borthwick’s England falling to a Duhan van der Merwe-inspired Scotland side.

The flying winger’s first try was one of the greatest scores the Championship has ever seen, and while his second was more of a team effort, it did help wrap up a 29-23 win at Twickenham.

And the opening weekend drew to a climactic conclusion on Sunday as Italy pushed France to the limit, only to come up short in the closing stages at Stadio Olimpico in a 29-24 loss.

Matthieu Jalibert’s try was enough to stop the Azzurri, but it took some determined goal-line defence from Les Bleus in the final play of the game to deny Italy a repeat of their famous last-gasp success against Wales in Cardiff.

Round 2

Ireland against France was the highlight of Round 2.

It was truly one of the highest-standard Guinness Six Nations games of all time, with stars of the game littered across both starting XVs

Pitting the world’s top two teams against one another, the match very much lived up to the billing, Garry Ringrose’s late try finally sealing a 32-19 win for Ireland.

Scotland won their opening two Championship matches for the first time since 1996.

Gregor Townsend’s side ran out 35-7 winners, a record victory over Wales, with Finn Russell pulling the strings superbly at BT Murrayfield in setting up three tries.

Borthwick did get his first win as head coach in Round 2 as England’s forwards inspired their side to a 31-14 triumph over Italy.

Second-half scores from Marco Riccioni and Alessandro Fusco kept the visitors within touching distance, but the rolling maul was too much for Kieran Crowley’s team to handle.

Round 3

Ireland continued their surge towards the Grand Slam with a 34-20 win against Italy.

Once again, the Azzurri showed real heart to stay within touching distance of the world’s number one side, but Mack Hansen crossed for his second in the 70th minute to allow Ireland to breathe a sigh of relief.

Ollie Lawrence made a big statement on the international stage as his late score inspired England to a 20-10 win against Wales.

The centre was superb at Principality Stadium, crossing the whitewash in the corner with six minutes to go to sink Wales to a sixth straight Championship defeat.

The round drew to a close with a bizarre but memorable contest between Scotland and France at BT Murrayfield.

Both teams played the majority of the game with 14 men after red cards to Grant Gilchris and Mohamed Haouas, but that did not stop France from running out 32-21 winners following a thoroughly entertaining clash in which Scotland came from 19-0 down to threaten an unlikely victory. Gaël Fickou’s late try wrapped up maximum points for France in the end.

Round 4

The penultimate round of action in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations saw England fall to a record home defeat as they lost 53-10 against France.

Les Bleus were sensational on their way to a first Championship win at Twickenham in 18 years, with the particularly impressive Damian Penaud crossing the try line twice, as did forwards Thibaud Flament and Charles Ollivon.

It was a great weekend for Warren Gatland as he recorded the first win of his second spell in charge of Wales.

They beat Italy 29-17, but the Azzurri will be disappointed with their performance after a much-improved campaign.

Round 4 marked the end of Scotland’s Championship hopes as they fell to a 22-7 home defeat against Farrell’s Ireland.

Scottish hopes of a first Triple Crown for 33 years were dashed as Ireland put on a clinical second-half performance to move within one win of the Grand Slam despite having to cope with a host of injuries up front, leading to Josh van der Flier throwing at the lineout and Cian Healy scrummaging at hooker.

Round 5

Ireland wrapped up the Grand Slam on Super Saturday, but they were pushed hard by 14-man England in a 29-16 victory.

Freddie Steward saw red just before half-time with both sides locked in an epic arm wrestle.

However, Ireland secured the Grand Slam at home on St Patrick’s weekend, sending Johnny Sexton off into the sunset in style following his final Guinness Six Nations game, with the skipper establishing a new all-time record for points in the Championship with his first kick of the game.

France showed that they will be a force in Rugby’s Greatest Championship for years to come with a 41-28 win against Wales.

However, there were plenty of positives for the visitors in Paris, including George North’s score moving him into the all-time top 10 of international rugby union try scorers.

Italy nearly secured a win at the last time of asking, pushing Scotland all the way in a 26-14 defeat.

They had possession on Scotland’s try line in the final few minutes but could not find a way through the defence.

Blair Kinghorn wrapped up the win after the clock had turned red to hand Scotland the win and complete his hat-trick.