Two nations

The start of Rugby Union’s RBS Six Nations tournament very much produced the results which could lead to an eventual March 21 Grand Slam showdown in Cardiff on the last day of the competition.

Title holders Wales, seeking to emulate past glories, travelled to Murrayfield and confirmed their 2009 credentials as favourites with four tries during an unchallenged 26-13 victory over Scotland. England now have everything to fear on tomorrow’s (Saturday) Millennium Stadium visit.

On all the evidence so far, it will be Ireland providing the main opposition to Welsh championship aspirations. Sunday’s Dublin encounter with France bore all the hallmarks of quality, Croke Park witnessing a feast of flair and skill which saw its heroes emerge the 30-21 victors by virtue of three tries scored to the visitor’s two. With Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy back to their pre-injury best, the Irish will have no more than a training session in Italy on Sunday before preparing a hot reception for England on February 28.

That leaves the already twice-mentioned Three Lions. Handed the easiest of opening tasks against Italy at Twickenham, Martin Johnson’s men were on a recovery mission and two Harry Ellis tries did contribute to producing the required result, a 36-11 five try-to-one success, but impressive it was not. Barring a miracle, England will do well to avoid extreme embarrassment over the coming fortnight ahead of their return to HQ to face the anything but timid French.