Six Nations Results 2014: Examining Most Important Matches from Week 1

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2014

France's Yannick Nyanga, left, is tackled by England's Luther Burrell, right,  during their Six Nations international rugby union match between France and England at Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis, near Paris, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. France won against England 26-24. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Michel Euler/Associated Press

The 2014 Six Nations kicked off in dramatic fashion as the tournament saw victories for Ireland, current holders Wales and France, who edged out the English in Paris.

In what could be a tremendously open championship this year, the Welsh team could struggle to yet again retain their crown. 

The resurgence of both Ireland and England is clear to see, and a tough French outfit can never be discounted.

Here we look at the three games of the first round: 


France beat England 26-24

Thiabult Camus/Associated Press

It was France v England that was the match of the weekend, with teenager Gael Fickou running in the game-winning try at the death, per BBC Sport.

England were denied their biggest-ever comeback victory by Fickou, coming from 16-3 behind to lead the match 24-19 with just four minutes remaining on the clock.

But it was the French who were able to prevail and will feel that fortune favoured them in what became an epic contest and fitting curtain-raiser.

The French dominated from the first whistle and took a surprise lead after only 32 seconds as Yoann Huget scored the game's first try. 

Huget added his second of the game, with 19-year-old Fickou grabbing France's winner.

An inexperienced England side replied with tries from Mike Brown and Luther Burrell, but it was not enough to earn a famous victory.

England have never won an international after trailing by 12 points, and they will be heartbroken after coming so close.

But the match will offer England some consolation as they prepare to travel north to challenge Scotland. 

A perfect record from this point onward is not beyond them as they face both Wales and Ireland at Twickenham, with a final match away in Italy. 


Ireland beat Scotland 28-6

Peter Morrison/Associated Press

It was a comfortable day for the Irish team as they comprehensively put Scotland to the sword in their first match of this year's Six Nations, per BBC Sport.

Tries from Andrew Trimble, captain Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney sealed the victory for the hosts after early dominance of possession from the visitors.

Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll featured in the match, earning a record 129th cap for his country.

As the game wore on, the Irish physically dominated the Scots, obliterating their line-outs and driving forward. 

The Irish will be pleased with their first day's work as they now prepare to face the task of beating the champions, Wales. 


Wales beat Italy 23-15

Alastair Grant/Associated Press

The country bidding to be the first team to win the title three years running could only stumble to victory with an unconvincing win against the little-fancied Italy, per BBC Sport.

Alex Cuthbert opened the scoring for Wales with a try after just three minutes, as the champions started off on forward footing.

Scott Williams added a second before the break, only for Italy to reply with two tries from their centre, Michele Campagnaro.

It was therefore left to the boot of the ever-reliable Leigh Halfpenny to seal the victory for Wales, as he converted twice and added three penalties. 

Wales head coach Warren Gatlan will be more pleased than after last year's tournament opener, when his side were beaten by Ireland in Cardiff (h/t BBC Sport.)

This was Italy's 16th consecutive away defeat in the Six Nations, having only won once on their travels since joining the tournament in 2000, per BBC Sport. 

The Welsh will do well to win a third straight crown, with the other teams closing the performance gap on them. 

They face Ireland away from home next, which could define their entire campaign.