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Category: Six Nations 2015

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England wing Jonny May ruled out for rest of season after knee surgery

• Gloucester confirm May had operation on ligament injury
• Wing will miss England’s Six Nations campaign as a result

England wing Jonny May will not play again this season after undergoing knee surgery.

Related: England need a spiky captain but would Dylan Hartley be a risk too far? | Paul Rees

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Six Nations: BBC and ITV battle to keep tournament out of Sky’s hands

• Satellite broadcaster had been favourite for rights
• Celtic unions were hoping for more than £50m a year

The BBC and ITV have formed an unlikely alliance in a bid to gazump Sky and keep the Six Nations on terrestrial television with an offer worth £50m a year. The tournament organiser says an announcement on the new broadcasting contract is imminent and the most financially lucrative competition in the sport outside the World Cup is expected to remain available to all viewers.

The contract with the BBC, which is worth £40m a year, runs out in 2017. Sky had been regarded as the favourite to gain the rights after the Six Nations committee revealed that, for the first time, the bidding would be opened to pay-TV companies. It hoped the move would generate a substantial increase in the value of the tournament which the three Celtic unions have come to rely on increasingly to fund professional and amateur rugby in their countries at a time when England, especially, and France are financially buoyant.

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The highs and lows of the 2014-15 rugby union season

From all-conquering Saracens to the joys of Wharfedale v Fylde, what we loved and hated from an eventful 10 months on and off the pitch

1 Saracens The club won five titles at all levels: Aviva Premiership, LV Cup, Aviva A league, Under-18 academy league and the Women’s Premiership. They also reached the semi-finals in Europe and possess a rare ability to block out off-field distractions.

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Six Nations format will not change, says RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie

• World Rugby looking to synchronise world calendar
• ‘The Six Nations is a winning formula’

There will be no tampering with the Six Nations’ successful structure, particularly its place in the calendar following the dramatic finale to this year’s championship, the RFU’s chief executive, Ian Ritchie, has promised.

World Rugby has set up a working group to look into the global calendar and explore ways to make it more synchronised. The timing of every tournament will be looked at although Ritchie said he would have to be convinced that moving the Six Nations back even a few weeks so matches started in March would be beneficial.

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Six Nations 2015: Ireland captain Paul O’Connell named player of tournament

• Munster lock secured more than 26% of public vote
• Alun-Wyn Jones second, Robbie Henshaw third
Paul O’Connell’s cool head leads Ireland through furnace

The Ireland captain, Paul O’Connell, has been named this season’s Six Nations player of the championship.

The 35-year-old Munster lock, who led Ireland to a gripping Six Nations title triumph last Saturday, secured more than 26% of a public vote.

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Ian Ritchie’s rebuke of England coach Stuart Lancaster was out of order

Stuart Lancaster has done a decent job by any standards and had every right to be livid at RFU chief executive’s remarks
• Six nations record unacceptable says England chief
• Does Six Nations final-round bonanza herald a new dawn for Europe?

Maladroit, inept, heavy-handed, cack-handed, crass, silly. Choose the appropriate word for this week’s public upbraiding of Stuart Lancaster by his boss, Ian Ritchie, the Rugby Football Union chief executive. If England coming second yet again in the Six Nations was “utterly unacceptable” to Ritchie, then the same should be said of an executive stumbling into a world of which he clearly knows little and has no right to be.

If Lancaster is on a beach somewhere, probably in the Canaries, then it’s a good thing because the last thing England and Twickenham need is the head coach giving his reply in public, because it’s likely to be what every director of rugby or head coach in professional rugby has, at some time, said to a meddling owner who oversteps the line.

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Does Six Nations’ final-round points bonanza herald new dawn for Europe?

Record number of points on the last day of the Six Nations showed teams can play with the handbrake off, but was it circumstance or a concerted effort to be more fluid?
• Six Nations 2015: Guardian writers’ awards

Some England players showed their frustration at missing out on the Six Nations title for a fourth successive season, a period when their cumulative record is as good as Wales’ and much better than Ireland’s – the two countries who have won the championship since the last World Cup – by accusing Italy and Scotland of not fronting up on the final weekend.

England were not complaining last year after a comfortable 20-0 victory at Murrayfield, one that would have been greater but for the worm-infested surface that made it heavy-going underfoot, nor did they accuse Italy of capitulating on the final day in 2014 having enjoyed a 41-point romp in Rome, although the margin was not enough to require Ireland to do more than win in Paris later in the day to finish top.

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Six Nations record unacceptable but we can win World Cup, says England chief

• Ian Ritchie backs England’s World Cup-winning potential
• RFU chief executive ‘not happy’ with string of Six Nations near misses
• Robert Kitson: Lancaster short of time in countdown to World Cup

England’s fourth successive Six Nations runners-up finish is unacceptable but Stuart Lancaster’s side can still triumph at the World Cup on home soil, the Rugby Football Union chief executive, Ian Ritchie, has said.

England finished behind Ireland by a difference of six points despite a thrilling 55-35 victory over France at Twickenham on Saturday.

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England’s Stuart Lancaster short of time in countdown to World Cup

The England coach now has only three friendlies remaining to fine-tune before the big World Cup kick-off against Fiji
• Six Nations 2015: Guardian writers’ awards
• England suffer torment against France

The Six Nations is gone, which means the grand parlour game can now begin. Ireland and Wales pretty much know their ideal lineups for this autumn’s Rugby the World Cup but whither England? Having finished second in the championship for four successive years, the host nation are still looking for the best way to transform potential into trophies.

It is too late for Stuart Lancaster to experiment wildly. England have three warmup games – two against France and one against Ireland – before the World Cup commences. There is still time, though, for some proactive tinkering in search of the optimum balance between the Six Nations regulars, the currently injured, and a bolter or two.

Related: Six Nations 2015: Guardian writers’ awards

Related: England narrowly fail to claim Six Nations but have hope for World Cup

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Six Nations 2015: Guardian writers’ awards

Johnny Sexton shone for Ireland, Jonathan Joseph was an impressive newcomer while Warren Gatland was the tournament’s craftiest coach

Robert Kitson: Johnny Sexton (Ireland). The fly-half continues to be a hugely influential cog for Ireland who now have two successive titles to underline the point. The English pair of George Ford and Jonathan Joseph had splendid tournaments but, ultimately, Ireland had the coolest heads.

Andy Bull: Paul O’Connell’s cool head leads Ireland through Six Nations furnace
Dean Ryan: Ireland in the groove but England need everyone fit for World Cup
Paul Rees: Six Nations format a winner as England have themselves to blame

Michael Aylwin: Joseph evokes memories of Guscott’s glory days
Eddie Butler: Six Nations finale could be Rugby World Cup turning point

Eddie Butler: England unleash spirit of liberation but suffer torment
Andy Bull: O’Connell’s cool head leads Ireland through Six Nations furnace
Gerard Meagher: England v France – player ratings

Andy Bull: The day Joe Schmidt had to be bullied into coaching
Wales can win the World Cup, says Warren Gatland after defeat of Italy
Shaun Edwards’ future in balance after Wales defence snuffs out Ireland

England believe pain of failure can spur them to World Cup glory
Ben Youngs and England look to use Six Nations angst as motivation

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England narrowly fail to claim Six Nations but have hope for World Cup

• England 55-35 France
• Six Nations format a winner as England have themselves to blame
• Ireland in the groove but England need everyone fit for autumn success
• Stuart Lancaster proud of England despite failure to win title
• England v France: Six Nations 2015 – in pictures

Deep in the bowels of Twickenham’s West Stand on Saturday night Stuart Lancaster briefly closed his eyes and rubbed a hand over his weary, throbbing head. It did not feel entirely like a joke as he talked about going for a lie-down in a darkened room. But if this was failure, it was unquestionably glorious. How often do an England team stick 55 points on France and still feel they have lost?

In the coming years people will stare at this bizarre scoreline and assume it was an unalloyed triumph. Seven tries? Against the French?

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England narrowly fail to claim Six Nations but have hope for World Cup

• England 55-35 France
• Six Nations format a winner as England have themselves to blame
• Ireland in the groove but England need everyone fit for autumn success
• Stuart Lancaster proud of England despite failure to win title
• England v France: Six Nations 2015 – in pictures

Deep in the bowels of Twickenham’s West Stand on Saturday night Stuart Lancaster briefly closed his eyes and rubbed a hand over his weary, throbbing head. It did not feel entirely like a joke as he talked about going for a lie-down in a darkened room. But if this was failure, it was unquestionably glorious. How often do an England team stick 55 points on France and still feel they have lost?

In the coming years people will stare at this bizarre scoreline and assume it was an unalloyed triumph. Seven tries? Against the French?

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Ireland still getting used to favourites tag after retaining Six Nations title

Irish love to play underdog but after defeat of Scotland their hopes of staying under radar have dwindled fast with World Cup looming

The pass was perfect. Finn Russell stooped to gather the stray ball and, without stopping or standing, threw it out towards the right wing, quick as he could cock his head. It left his hands almost exactly as he collided with Tommy Bowe. The ball flew high, over the heads of the two men nearest to him, Blair Cowan and Tim Visser. They turned around just in time to see it land slap in the lap of Stuart Hogg, running in full tilt from full-back, on into the little strip of empty space along the touchline. He caught it without breaking stride, stuttered, stepped inside both Bowe and Jordi Murphy, and dived over the try line. A try! And then a truck hit him from behind. Jamie Heaslip. As they fell forward, Heaslip wrapped his left arm around Hogg’s waist and hauled him around on to his right side. The ball dropped from Hogg’s hands, bounced up and down. A try?

The video replays showed that Heaslip had done just enough. Hogg had dropped the ball when it was still 12 inches or so above the ground. So the score stayed at 40-10, where it still stood when the final whistle went four minutes later. That meant Ireland were 26 points clear at the top of the table. And in the end, of course, they won the Championship by six from England. A single converted try on either side would have swung it. Hogg, and England, were twelve inches and a good kick away. “An incredible piece of skill,” was how Paul O’Connell described Heaslip’s tackle. “I wouldn’t put it down to luck.” He thought for a second, then added: “But I suppose a lot of things did happen, for all three games to go like that, for us to come out on top. Maybe someone was smiling down on us. I don’t know.”

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Wales take heart for World Cup despite falling just short in Italy rout

• Italy 20-61 Wales
• Post-match deflation gives way to optimism for form team
Six Nations hopes go south despite North’s hat-trick
Warren Gatland says Wales can win World Cup

It was a curious situation — pretty much unique in the life of a professional rugby player. Wales had just put 60 past Italy. If the directive was to score as many points as possible, they couldn’t have expected much more from an extraordinary second half that yielded seven tries. Afterwards, they completed a lap of honour in front of a large army of travelling support who seemed to match that of their hosts. When it came to the numbers game, Wales had done all they could.

But it was not quite enough. By the time the Welsh players had showered and gathered themselves to confront the media, Ireland were well on their way to the 22-point margin of victory they needed to overtake Wales at the top of the Six Nations table. The atmosphere had plummeted from jubilance to dejection. Don’t let anyone tell you that grand slams are all that matter. Winning the championship still counts, if the body language of Jamie Roberts an hour and a half after a 61-20 romp is anything to go by.

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Wales take heart for World Cup despite falling just short in Italy rout

• Italy 20-61 Wales
• Post-match deflation gives way to optimism for form team
Six Nations hopes go south despite North’s hat-trick
Warren Gatland says Wales can win World Cup

It was a curious situation — pretty much unique in the life of a professional rugby player. Wales had just put 60 past Italy. If the directive was to score as many points as possible, they couldn’t have expected much more from an extraordinary second half that yielded seven tries. Afterwards, they completed a lap of honour in front of a large army of travelling support who seemed to match that of their hosts. When it came to the numbers game, Wales had done all they could.

But it was not quite enough. By the time the Welsh players had showered and gathered themselves to confront the media, Ireland were well on their way to the 22-point margin of victory they needed to overtake Wales at the top of the Six Nations table. The atmosphere had plummeted from jubilance to dejection. Don’t let anyone tell you that grand slams are all that matter. Winning the championship still counts, if the body language of Jamie Roberts an hour and a half after a 61-20 romp is anything to go by.

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Police to investigate alleged homophobic tweet to referee Owens

• Dyfed-Powys Police confirm investigation after complaints from public
Owens received homophobic abuse during match against All Blacks
Match report: England 55-35 France Continue reading…

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Six Nations format a winner as England have themselves to blame

Staggered kick-offs were a success but England will look back on moments in earlier games that cost them this year’s title
• Six Nations match report: England 55-35 France

The kick-offs were staggered and the rugby was staggering. The first three rounds of the Six Nations produced 27 tries, a number matched on superlative Saturday. Wales set the bar high by running riot in Rome, obliging Italy and England to follow. The straitjackets were off and players revelled in the freedom, thrills augmented by spills.

It was a case, for once, of who dares wins rather than sins and the extraordinary nature of the final day may be summed up in Wales scoring 61 points away from home and England passing 50 against France for the first time only to receive commiserations.

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O’Driscoll and Murray say Ireland can take 2015 World Cup by storm

• O’Driscoll claims Six Nations win ‘sets us up really well’ for World Cup bid
• Murray praises head coach Joe Schmidt after double Six Nations success
Ireland win Six Nations after England fall agonisingly short

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray and former captain Brian O’Driscoll both believe Ireland have the perfect platform to take the World Cup by storm after clinching the Six Nations title.

O’Driscoll lifted last year’s trophy after victory over France in Paris in his final international match. This year, he was watching on television as Ireland thrashed Scotland 40-10 at Murrayfield – a margin of victory that proved enough to defend their title despite losing to Wales in their penultimate game, as England lost out on points difference.

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Paul O’Connell says trust was key to Ireland’s Six Nations win – video

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell says the belief among his team helped them to bounce back from defeat against Wales last week. Ireland beat Scotland 40-10 to win the trophy on points difference. Wales were briefly in the lead for the title after winning…

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England v France: Six Nations 2015 – in pictures

Our photographer was at Twickenham to see England fall just short of Six Nations glory, as they beat France 55-35 but finished second to Ireland by just six points Continue reading…