Oval Talk

Six Nations: Five all-time classic encounters

The 15th season of Six Nations Championship rugby will begin on Saturday, with Wales looking to make history by landing a hat-trick of titles.

Here, we look back on five classic Six Nations encounters that helped underpin the tournament as a consistent box-office draw.

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ITALY 34 SCOTLAND 20 (Rome, February 5, 2000)

Italy's introduction to Six Nations action saw them launch the inaugural competition at Stadio Flaminio as 250-1 tournament outsiders, but they delivered a mighty display highlighted by the contribution of their fly-half marksman Diego Dominguez. The diminutive match-winner kicked 29 points, including three drop-goals, as Scotland were sent packing from the Eternal City and Italy immediately silenced any doubters about deserving their place at European rugby's top table.

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FRANCE 25 IRELAND 27 (Paris, March 19, 2000)

Brian O'Driscoll set the tone for a glittering career by scoring three tries at Stade de France as Ireland claimed their first win in Paris for 28 years. Les Bleus could not handle the 21-year-old as he shredded their defence with a display of attacking brilliance that was to become his hallmark during more than a decade at the top. Now in his final season before retirement, O'Driscoll will step away from Test rugby as an all-time great of the game.

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WALES 15 IRELAND 17 (Cardiff, March 21, 2009)

It was agonising, dramatic and nerve-tingling, but Ireland finally got there, ending a 61-year wait for Grand Slam glory by defeating defending Six Nations champions Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Brian O'Driscoll and Tommy Bowe scored tries for Ireland, but it required a late drop-goal from fly-half Ronan O'Gara to edge the visitors ahead, and even then they had to look on as Wales number 10 Stephen Jones sent a 50-metre penalty chance with the game's final kick wide of the posts. It was a gripping Six Nations spectacle.

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WALES 31 SCOTLAND 24 (Cardiff, February 13, 2010)

Wales and Scotland have a history of producing thrilling, action-packed contests, but nothing could prepare the Millennium Stadium crowd for a finale that even the most ambitious of script-writers would have found implausible. Wales trailed 24-14 with 77 minutes gone as Scotland looked set to mark Chris Paterson's 100th cap in fitting fashion, but after Scott Lawson and Phil Godman were sin-binned, Wales wreaked havoc through a converted Leigh Halfpenny try and a Stephen Jones penalty before wing wizard Shane Williams completed a breathtaking smash and grab raid by touching down deep into stoppage time. Wales were jubilant, Scotland crestfallen.

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WALES 30 ENGLAND 3 (Cardiff, March 16, 2013)

England, refreshed and rejuvenated following the appointment of new head coach Stuart Lancaster, arrived in Cardiff on a Grand Slam trail to tackle a Wales team that would clinch a second successive Six Nations title if they won by at least seven points. It was just 9-3 at the break, but the second half proved a Welsh masterclass of attacking accuracy as wing Alex Cuthbert scored two tries to underpin an astounding record triumph for them in the fixture. Wales had started the tournament with a home defeat against Ireland, but ended it as champions. England, in contrast, left Cardiff with nothing.

PA Sport