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    Interesting team of the championship at the end of this.

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 summary="Layout table" ="std_newsartd"><T><T><T>
    <TD ="line">Six Nations provides dramatic finale</TD></TR>
    <TD ="date">18 March 2007, 6:25 pm</TD></TR>
    <TD ="author">By Huw Richards</TD></TR>
    <TD ="multimedia"></TD></TR>
    <TD ="abstract">

    Time perhaps for a permanent embargo on the phrase ‘luck of the Irish’ – unless, of course, you are talking about cricket Huw Richards reports for

    It is hard to think what could have made their loss of that long-pursued title in the final seconds of France’s match against Scotland much crueller. There was the raising of hopes by that devastating display against Italy, then again in the late stages in Paris as Scotland prop Euan Murray put himself in line for a lifetime of free pints in Ireland.</TD></TR>
    <TD ="article">
    <DIV ="adv"></DIV>
    <DIV ="adv">There was the questionability of that final French score, the wait (it seemed interminable, even if shorter than many television adjudications) for a decision and the frank absurdity of any international rugby player, most of all a Frenchman, being called Elvis.</DIV>

    Spare a thought also for one particular Irishman, television match official Simon McDowell. It was
    intolerably unfair that he should have found himself making a decision that he must have known had such implications for his own country.

    Then there are the might-have-beens – Paterson’s kick that struck a post, O’Gara’s comparative off-day with the boot.

    There was also the built-in unfairness of the final day, great cumulative drama though it may have been. France started knowing exactly what they had to do to win the title and were able to play accordingly.

    All Ireland could do was to score as many points as they possibly could, and hope. Had they
    known that a 34-point victory over Italy would have been enough, they might have reined in and played conservatively in the final 15 minutes.

    Instead they pressed for more and the Italians, whose greater resilience in the later stages of matches has been their conspicuous improvement this year, hit them with late scores.

    Then there is the memory of that earlier last minute last-gasp play by the French, at Croke Park. To be denied twice in that manner in the same season is brutal.

    But there is another way of looking at that. Twice this season France found themselves in the final seconds of a Six Nations match, once away to their greatest rivals, knowing that they had to score on this possession.

    They did so both times. Such resilience and composure, so at odds with traditional British stereotypes of the French under pressure, compels admiration. They’re not the finished article – standing among other things in desperate need of an authentic open-side to balance their back row – but they’re certainly the men for a crisis.

    And did Ireland really perform like champions for much of the season? They were utterly compelling against England and dazzled against Italy, but performed poorly against the weakest teams, Wales and Scotland, and suffered that scarifying opening against the French.

    Ireland certainly deserve a championship – they’ve earned it over eight years in which they averaged 3.62 wins per season and been second five times, three of them on points difference. Whether they deserved this particular championship is another matter.

    All of which reduced Wales v England to the status of a hugely enjoyable sideshow, matching two teams of positive intent. A lot depends, of course, on whether you see a previously winless team beating the team who had inflicted the champions only defeat six days earlier as evidence of depth
    and competitiveness, or simply that nobody this season has been terribly good.

    My own view is that there’s a lit

    It was kind of a strange 6 nations, in fact in some ways it is Ireland who leave the 6N with the least upward momemtum.

    France, won a 6N, that they didnt fully chase. Have now got a lot more strength in depth than they had before the 6N.

    England, may have finally turned the corner, and they have a number of kids coming through who really do look class

    Scotland, considering the amount of injuries they have, that if it
    wasnt for gifting italy 21 points and Ireladn some easy pens, they
    could have gone into tghe last weekend chasing a title

    Italy on a ten year high at the moment.

    Wales, beating England means a lot and certainly lifted some of the gloom

    Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice