Six Nations Rugby | Five of the best Round 1 matches
Ireland and Wales kick off the 23rd edition of rugby’s greatest league, while the Calcutta Cup and Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy are also on the line in an epic Round 1.
Guinness Six Nations Calendar 2022
It has all the makings to be a classic weekend and produce all-time great league games.
So, as the countdown continues, here are some of our favorite first-round matches from the last 22 years.
Italy 34-20 Scotland – 2000
When considering the biggest upsets in the history of rugby’s biggest league, few compare to the one that lifted the curtain on the first-ever Six Nations.
Facing defending champions Scotland in the opening game at the turn of the millennium, the Azzurri seized the opportunity by beating the visitors 34-20 at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome.
Inspired by Diego Dominguez, who scored 29 points in a supreme display of penalty kicks, Italy took the lead to start the new era of the championship with a famous victory.
Giampiero de Carli made history by scoring Italy’s first Six Nations try and, while Gordon Bulloch and Martin Leslie crossed for Scotland, they were well beaten.
Wales 11-9 England – 2005
Few kicks in Six Nations history have catapulted an individual to glory overnight quite like the one struck by Gavin Henson against England in 2005.
It was as impressive as it was important, especially when you put it in context. Because when the two teams met in the first round of the 2005 championship, Wales had not beaten England in Cardiff since 1993.
Wales started the game top and took the lead in the 11th minute, Shane Williams burst in to score in the corner – his first try against the Red Rose.
The home crowd were on fire and the volume only increased when Henson gave 18-year-old debutant Mathew Tait a memorable welcome to international rugby with a huge tackle that sent the Englishman back.
With just four minutes to play, however, England were ahead but Wales had a penalty. On the right side, 43 yards out, he needed a powerful boot.
Henson showed no sign of nervousness as he came forward and snagged the kick between the posts to send the house faithful into rapture.
Italy 23-18 France – 2013
In 2011, Italy scored one of their most important wins since joining the Six Nations when they stunned championship-seeking France in Rome.
Two years after that spectacular victory – their first against the Blues in the league, they repeated the trick even more impressively.
Under the leadership of a Frenchman, Jacques Brunel, Italy had a perfect start to the 2013 Championship, before finishing in style by beating Ireland to take fourth place in the standings.
With Luciano Orquera producing arguably his greatest performance in an Azzurri shirt, these two great Italian warriors Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni went for tries in a 23-18 success at the Stadio Olimpico.
While that first league success against Ireland is a significant moment in Italian rugby history, it is the games against neighboring France that arguably hold the greatest value for the Azzurri.
France 26-24 England – 2014
A 30-second try, a brave fightback and late-night drama – France’s roller-coaster victory over England on the opening weekend of the 2014 Championship had it all.
It took less than a minute for this to come to life as the home side set the tone for what was to become a thrilling contest as Jules Plisson aimed for a kick to the right wing which deflected onto a English boot and landed perfectly in grateful arms. by Yoann Huget, who sprinted flawlessly to cross the line and open the scoring.
France took a 16-3 lead but England came back with Mike Brown and Luther Burrell each scoring a try to turn the game around.
England seemed to be closing in on back-to-back Championship wins in Paris for the first time since the early 1990s – but there was still time for one final twist in this epic encounter.
Dimitri Szarzewski made the initial break before feeding Gael Fickou, then 19, to earn his fourth cap. Fickou showed composure beyond his years to sell a superb dummy and cross for a try that delighted the majority of the 80,000 fans inside the Stade de France.
France 19-24 Wales – 2019
George North crossed for a second-half brace as Wales produced a stunning and historic fightback that sparked their third and final Grand Slam under Warren Gatland.
Les Bleus were an absolute delight in the first half of this Guinness Six Nations 2019 opener on a wet Friday night in Paris, with Louis Picamoles and Yoann Huget both crossing as they opened up a well-deserved 16-man lead -0.
At the start of the second half, Tomos Williams crossed to threaten a Welsh fight back, but Jacques Brunel’s side were their own worst enemy afterwards – handing North their brace on a plate.
First, Huget knocked down an unpressured ball into his dead ball zone and North pounced. And then, late after France regained the lead thanks to Camille Lopez’s boot, Sebastien Vahaamahina threw a suicidal pass which North picked up to speed the clearance.
Wales’ 16-0 victory behind was the biggest comeback in Six Nations history, as well as their biggest game.
The teams meet again under the Friday night lights in Round 4 this year, this time in Cardiff.