Six Nations 2014: 10 things we've learnt at the tournament

Hugh Godwin on a tournament that kept us gripped until the very end

1. There are good reasons why three-peats are rare

Wales attempted to land a third title in a row with much the same XV as in 2012 and 2013. But their tactics became easier to predict, and maybe they went to the emotional well once too often against opponents naturally desperate to usurp the kings. Wales's Lions denied they were tired after their tour efforts last summer but in the dreadful loss to Ireland in particular there were uncharacteristic individual errors by Taulupe Faletau, Richard Hibbard and others. Also Sam Warburton, Gethin Jenkins and Jon Davies were rushed back very soon after long-term injury.

2. Wales have picked the right time to regroup

It is good for Wales that they can get their soul-searching done in good time for next year's Six Nations and World Cup. If they can find a prop or two, they have the playing and coaching personnel to work their problems out. The worry is whether the suits at the WRU and the regions can do likewise. Leigh Halfpenny will spend the next four months mending a dislocated shoulder – for the second visit running, the fantastic full-back was hurt saving an England try at Twickenham's North-East corner – before joining Toulon.

3. And still the obsession with size, er, grows

With each passing year, a little more of the soul that pines for grace and jinking movement dies. What in pity's sake was the gargantuan Sébastien Vahaamahina doing as a flanker for France? And was Ireland's coach Joe Schmidt correct when he wondered aloud whether Brian O'Driscoll "might be the final bastion of the smaller centre who is a creator of play rather than a direct runner". Saracens' coach and former Ireland centre Mark McCall made the same observation.

4. Veni, vidi, abscessi (I came, I saw, I retired)

Now that Italy have confirmed they will continue to enter two teams into the Pro 12 and European competitions for next season, they must have a think about pruning the national side. Marco Bortolami, Mauro Bergamasco and Martin Castrogiovanni deserve an abundance of laurel wreaths for all they have done in the Azzurri's formative Six Nations years but it is time for them to move on.

5. Scotland can score tries

No, really, they can. But they also need to concede fewer penalties. Some cuter thinking at the breakdown would have brought a win over France to go with the one in Italy. With Vern Cotter soon to make his long-awaited arrival as head coach, the Scots can build on the attacking base provided by Gloucester-bound Greig Laidlaw, Duncan Weir (whose wonderful drop goal beat the Italians), Matt Scott and Alex Dunbar, plus the currently injured Tim Visser and Sean Maitland. Oh, and their jerseys had proper collars on, bless them.

6. Stand by for a surfeit of science

Cycling's marginal-gains man Matt Parker will soon be ensconced at the England rugby team's training centre under construction in Bagshot. Its high roof will facilitate kicking practice, while Parker beavers away analysing individual players' sweat-rate and whether they should train in the evening to replicate World Cup kick-off times. Mind you, after poo-pooing the effectiveness of cryotherapy, England used the deep-freeze technique following the Wales match. Allowing me to say… the icemen cometh.

7. TV must rein in the replays

Television often tends to the over-theatrical – and I don't mean Brian Moore bringing his "Complete Works of Shakespeare" to every match – but the almost constant recourse to the television match official for decisions in tries is actually diluting the drama. It also leaves the commentator caught between a rock of making a call that might be proved wrong and the hard place of hedging his bets. And then there was the unfortunate Eddie Butler, shouting "and Jonny May… scores!" against Ireland when the wing certainly should have done – but didn't

8. Do believe the hype

It felt preposterous for Stuart Lancaster to predict the World Cup pool meeting between England and Wales on 26 September next year would have "10 times" the profile of last week's match. But the juices are flowing already at the thought of the next Wales v England rematch in Cardiff. It kicks off the 2015 Six Nations, and then we career towards Twickenham in the World Cup, when the losers will probably need to beat Australia to make the quarter-finals.

9. There's nothing to beat the long-range score

The sight of the goalline may sometimes muddle English minds but, overall, exciting tries made a comeback. With 18 passes through eight phases, Gaël Fickou's try against England was one for the ages. George North splintered the French, while Twickenham was rocking (literally – the press seats actually swayed to and fro) as the moves flowed to the crescendo of Danny Care's score against Ireland.

10. Referees may not always be so lonely

While referees are heard more and more often to tell carping players to shut up, the miscreants are pleading football-style, arms outstretched, to the touch judges instead. The scrum generally improved thanks to the new directives, but the incomplete ones almost always broke up with the prop harassing the man with the flag. There is an ongoing trial in South African university matches of two on-field referees sharing the load. It's the future – you read it here first.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'