England and Ireland inched closer to a Six Nations title decider by extending their 100 per cent records at the weekend. Here, we look at five things we learned from the action in round two.
Rugby's video technology is far from infallible
The role of the Television Match Official (TMO) was confirmed as rugby's chief thankless task as England ground past Wales 12-6 at Twickenham. Not even every camera angle, slow-motion replay under the sun and all the time in the world could throw up an immediate and clear answer to the question of whether Gareth Anscombe had scored or not. Glenn Newman, the TMO in question, ruled that Anthony Watson had beaten the Wales full-back to touch down, and therefore deny the visitors a try. Replays appeared to indicate that Anscombe had indeed touched down first – but other angles from build-up play suggested an earlier knock-on. Cue Wales fans decrying the decision and English insisting justice was upheld, however circuitously. The only surety? The technology still has limits, humans will make mistakes – and everyone must move on.
Injuries could slow Ireland's charge
Ireland's facile 56-19 thumping of sorry Italy threw up precious few concerns, save for two potentially problematic injuries. Centre Robbie Henshaw will miss the rest of the campaign with the shoulder injury he sustained, while prop Tadhg Furlong hobbled off with hamstring trouble. Henshaw has provided some defensive ballast for Ireland, allied to strong running in attack, and will take some replacing. The outlook on Furlong remains more positive – he is expected to be fit to face Wales on February 24 – and Ireland will certainly need the outstanding British and Irish Lions tighthead as they chase a potential title-deciding showdown with England at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day.
Eddie Jones happy on the attack, as long as England keep winning
Forthright England boss Jones heaped pressure on Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell before the game, then hit out at media criticism of England full-back Mike Brown afterwards. The wily Australian has never cared one jot about polarising opinion, and is not about to start now. As long as England keep on winning, few people stand in position to criticise either.
New coach, precious little change for France
Startling wing Teddy Thomas aside, France appear the same inconsistent rabble under new boss Jacques Brunel as the unseated former coach Guy Noves. The personnel might have shifted around, but the results are the same. Granted France so nearly toppled Ireland in week one, but only moved on to slip up 32-26 against Scotland at Murrayfield. Two rounds in and no wins – it is all painfully familiar for Les Bleus.
Scotland off the mark, but still chasing improvements
Gregor Townsend was never going to approach the Scotland job the easy way, or the expected one either. So when he shifted Greig Laidlaw from scrum-half to fly-half midway through Sunday's tense France encounter, more than a few eyebrows were raised. The calculated gamble paid off, Laidlaw kept his nerve in manning the backline and with boot on tee, and Scotland bagged their first win of this year's tournament. England will pitch up at Murrayfield next though, whereupon the Scots will expect another intensity hike. After a heavy thumping by Wales in round one however, Townsend and company can be forgiven for simply getting back on track.