The opening weekend of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations certainly lived up to its billing with three enthralling contests – and the numbers only backed up the drama on show.
France kicked off their Championship title bid with an impressive display in Rome as last year’s runners-up prevailed 50-10 after running in seven tries at Stadio Olimpico.
That was followed by another blockbuster Calcutta Cup collision as Scotland ended their 38-year wait for a win at Twickenham with a composed 11-6 triumph over England.
Then Sunday brought the opening round of action to a fitting conclusion as Wales got the better of Ireland in a bruising contest between the last two Grand Slam winners in Cardiff.
And with the dust now settled on the weekend’s Round 1 bouts, we’ve had a look at where the games were won and lost thanks to the stats, Powered by AWS.
4 – Try assists from Antoine Dupont
Last year’s Player of the Championship Antoine Dupont stole the headlines once again as Les Bleus hit the ground running with a superb victory over the Azzurri.
Classy Dupont guides France to bonus-point win in Rome
He was at the heart off everything for the visitors and set up all three tries in the first half as Fabien Galthie’s men raced into a dominant 24-3 advantage at the interval.
Dupont then scored a try of his own before feeding Teddy Thomas for his fourth try assist of the game, equalling the number of assists he had for the whole of the 2020 Championship.
137 – Ball carry metres from Monty Ioane
The scoreboard was not kind to Franco Smith’s side but they showed plenty of promising signs for a team that only included 124 Test caps of experience between them.
Among those to stand out for the Azzurri was winger Monty Ioane, who carried the ball for 137 metres – the most of any player on the pitch – on only his second appearance for Italy.
His Benetton teammate Juan Ignacio Brex was his closest rival for metres carried with 132 on his debut while talented fly-half Paolo Garbisi also ate up 117 yards for the Italians in defeat.
7 – Lineouts won by Scott Cummings
Every single player on the field stood up to be counted for Scotland against defending champions England as the visitors won at Twickenham for the first time since 1983.
But Scott Cummings was singled out for particular praise by Gregor Townsend for his near flawless display in their 100 percent lineout success, proving himself more than a match for Maro Itoje.
His seven lineout wins provided Scotland with consistent ball as they dominated possession, with teammate Jonny Gray also rock solid as he rose highest five times for his side.
8 – Defenders beaten by Stuart Hogg
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg led from the front at England HQ and was rewarded for his contribution with the Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match award.
Press Conference: Gregor Townsend and Stuart Hogg
His stats made for impressive reading as he carried the ball for 113 metres – the most of any player on the pitch – and defeated eight defenders in the process with his weaving runs.
England’s lack of attacking potency was summed up by their total of zero line breaks, compared to Scotland’s six, while they also conceded 15 penalties as they struggled to retain the ball.
234 – Tackles made by Wales
There was one statistic that stood out over all others as Wales came from behind against the 14-men of Ireland to get their 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign off to a winning start.
Vote for your Guinness Six Nations Try of Round 1
Wayne Pivac’s side may have had the extra man but they racked up an incredible 234 tackles in Cardiff, with Justin Tipuric leading the way with 29 and Alun Wyn Jones making 25.
In fact, four of the top five most successful tacklers over the weekend were Welsh as Josh Navidi and Ken Owens also contributed 20 each to deny a spirited Ireland display.
21 – Carries made by Tadhg Beirne
While Ireland’s first win in Cardiff since 2013 ultimately slipped through their hands, Andy Farrell would have been encouraged by some huge performances from his players all over the pitch.
Tadhg Beirne not only scored his side’s only try, he also carried 21 times for 98 metres and made 10 tackles as he almost singlehandedly made up for Peter O’Mahony’s absence.
Robbie Henshaw was another player who left everything out on the pitch, with 19 carries for 130 metres, while James Lowe carried for a remarkable 175 metres (from 17 carries).