Sometimes it isn't what you want. To read about `one of the most competitive tournaments.' For so often – whatever the sport – it suggests a dumbing down of standards. That's why games are close. So, I'll say it now, “this will be one of the most competitive of Six Nations.” But, for once, it is because of raised standards. Ireland, the masters of the methodical are constantly improving, Wales can't wait to get stuck into France. England have too many good players not to be a danger while the Scotland regions European form promise some outstanding performances. France have some big forwards, some brilliant backs and Italy, they have Sergio Parisse. He'll need to be a miracle worker for Italy to win the title in what promises to be a vintage year with moments that in years to come will rival the great instances I had the pleasure to recall and reset into words, enjoy these ten greatest moments of the Six Nations.
1) 2002: Jason Robinson’s brilliant try (France 20 – 15 England)
England huffed and puffed to defeat in Paris but Jason Robinson's try, one attacker against three defenders, was a reminder that there remained room for genius in the game. It wasn't the greatest pass he received from Matt Dawson at base of the scrum, so what? His balance and acceleration was a moment I'll never forget.
2) 2003: Johnny Wilkinson’s drop goal (Ireland 6 – 42 England)
To English fans a Wilkinson drop goal was a thing of beauty. The one dropped off his `wrong' right foot in the Grand Slam 6-42 rout of Ireland in Dublin summed up the efficiency of Martin Johnson's team as well as sending out a warning to the Wallabies of what was coming their way later that year in the World Cup final.
3) 2004: Yachvili scores Grand Slam decider (France 24 – 21 England)
Dimitri Yachvili's clever grubber kick and chase try was the moment when France were revenged for the semi final loss in Australia. It was the highlight of a masterful performance from the Biarritz scrum half as he kicked the goals and made this soon to be Grand Slam French team's only other try.
4) 2005: Suberb Gavin Henson performance (Wales 11 – 9 England)
A choice of two moments; don't say I am not generous. One, Gavin Henson dumps England's Matthew Tait on his backside or, 2, with England leading 9-8, the glitteringly talented Welshman thumps a long range penalty to beat their enemy as Cardiff rings out with hymns and arias, songs and praises.
5) 2007: The Anthems from Ireland vs England at Croke Park (Ireland 43 – 13 England)
More a matter of atmosphere than anything else, the silence at Croke Park when the English anthem was played made fools of those who promised seething animosity in the home of Gaelic sport. It was a triumph for Anglo-Irish spirit, not to mention Paul O' Connell, who gave an inspired, towering second row performance
6) 2009: Ronan O'Gara Grand Slam Winning Drop Goal (Wales 15 – 17 Ireland)
Staying with an Irish theme, Ronan O' Gara's long range drop goal in the 78th minute in Cardiff put Ireland ahead against Wales and two minutes from their first Grand Slam in 61 years. The moment his Munster achievements were matched in the green of Ireland.
7) 2013: Orquera’s Magical Moment (Italy 23 – 18 France)
Luciano Orquera popped up to give a second half try scoring and what would prove match winning pass to the operatic Martin Castrogiovanni as Italy stunned France. It rounded off the day when the ungainly Italian fly half played like Barry John. A week later he was dreadful against Scotland. The ultimate rugby case of hero to zero.
8) 2017: Daly’s match-winning try final (Wales 16 – 21 England)
Elliot Daly dives into the corner for a 75th minute match winning score which will enable England to successfully defend their Six Nations title. What is so memorable about the moment is the quality of George Ford's pass to Owen Farrell and then Farrell's inch perfect delivery to the Wasps winger. English magic in the land of wizards.
9) 2018: Russell passes English test with flying colours (Scotland 25 – 13 England)
Another pass on the road to redemption. Finn Russell was harangued for his excessive ambition against Wales a week earlier. So what does he do in the Calcutta Cup match? Plays an even higher risk game. He'll say the cut out pass that led to an unforgettable Scottish try en route to victory was pure technique. Whatever it was, it was too good for England.
10) 2018: Incredible last second drop goal from Johnny Sexton to win the match (France 13 – 15 Ireland)
...and the clock ticked on. Ireland were behind and going through the phases in Paris. The commentators were beginning to run out of phrases when Johnny Sexton decided enough was enough. He stepped up – more than 40 metres out at the end of an exhausting game in conditions too soft for a kicker - and proceeded to send the perfect strike through the posts. Had the kick been to win a Grand Slam and not a first Six Nations game it would have a play written about it by now.
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