Records fall as Wales win 'from our living room' - 2021 Six Nations in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk March 27, 2021

It was not sealed in the fashion they would have hoped for, but Wales could belatedly celebrate Six Nations glory on Friday.

Wayne Pivac's side had missed the chance to claim a Grand Slam triumph last week in a heartbreaking last-gasp defeat to France.

But with France needing a bonus-point win by a 21-point margin in Friday's rearranged clash with Scotland - delayed due to an earlier COVID-19 outbreak - to deny Wales again, Les Bleus' loss in Paris handed them the title.

"It's a real emotional rollercoaster, the last seven days really," Wales head coach Pivac said on Saturday.

He added: "It was just different and that's what we've come to expect from this pandemic really.

"It was evident that we had to go and do something different and that was to watch us win a championship from our living room."

That was far from the only first in a tournament with its fair share of twists and turns, though, as Opta data shows.
 

MORE TRIES, MORE DRAMA

There were six tries in Friday's frantic affair at the Stade de France and that contributed to a new Six Nations record.

A total of 86 tries were scored across the 15 matches, the most in a single edition of the tournament in its history.

And Scotland's dramatic 27-23 success, sealed with an 80th-minute Duhan van der Merwe score, was a fitting end to the competition.

Eight of the 15 games were decided by margins of five points or fewer, another new benchmark.

"There were some great games," Pivac said. "It was just a shame we didn't have crowds. You can imagine how much of an atmosphere would have been generated.

"It was a good advertisement for the game and a lot of nations are heading in the right direction. It's exciting."

Van der Merwe beat two defenders in the decisive fixture and in doing so set a new tournament high of 31, surpassing Brian O'Driscoll's 30 defenders beaten in 2000.

The wing's brace also saw him become the first Scotland player to finish a Six Nations campaign as the outright leading try scorer (five).

France needed to score at least one more try in order to have a chance of snatching the championship, but they still matched their best haul of 18 from 2006.

Not all the records were quite so impressive.

Italy conceded 239 points, 34 tries and had a points difference of -184, the worst such tallies for any team in an edition of the Six Nations.
 

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

Wales' title was their sixth since Italy were introduced to the tournament to form the Six Nations in 2000.

Four of their previous five had been Grand Slam successes, a record over this period they could not extend thanks to France's epic win last week.

But Wales are now only one Six Nations crown behind England's seven.

"It gives us a lot of confidence to feel like we're on the right track," the title-winning coach said. "We can't get ahead of ourselves."

This was not a tournament England will reflect on fondly, even as captain Owen Farrell became only the third man - after Ronan O'Gara and Jonny Wilkinson - to reach 500 points in the Five/Six Nations.

Eddie Jones' outfit came in as defending champions but slumped to their joint-worst Six Nations finish, coming fifth as they had in 2018.

England also lost against Ireland, Wales and Scotland in the same Five/Six Nations campaign for the first time since 1976.

At the bottom of the table, though, there was no change.

Italy have picked up the Wooden Spoon in each of the past six years, this after finishing bottom of the championship just once in the prior four seasons.

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    PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:29.990
    2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) +0.258s
    3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.386s
    4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +0.455s
    5. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) +0.850s
    6. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) +0.878s
    7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.997s
    8. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.262s
    9. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) +1.350s
    10. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) +1.392s

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    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Switzerland – Granit Xhaka

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    Turkey – Burak Yilmaz

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    KEY OPTA FACTS

    - This will be the second meeting between Switzerland and Turkey at a major tournament. Their first encounter was in the group phase of Euro 2008 where Switzerland, as co-hosts, lost 2-1 to Turkey.
    - The last five games between Switzerland and Turkey have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per game.
    - Switzerland (D1 L1) are looking to avoid remaining winless in all three of their group stage games at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004.
    - Turkey have lost both of their games at Euro 2020, by an aggregate score of 0-5. In a full tournament, only Denmark in 2000 (eight) have conceded more goals without reply.
    - Switzerland's loss against Italy was their first defeat in all competitions in 2021. The Swiss last lost consecutive matches in October 2020 (vs Croatia and Spain).

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