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Wednesday, 5 April, 2000, 12:11 GMT 13:11 UK
Is six better than five?

The first Six Nations tournament has now come to a conclusion, though the jury is out as to whether the new event has been a success.

Scotland's against-the-odds defeat of England at Murrayfield proved a fitting finale to the inaugural championship, but the tournament was widely overshadowed by the row over player eligibility.

New-boys Italy started well, but failed to find the form that saw them defeat Scotland in Rome.

Wales, Ireland and France all experienced mixed fortunes, winning three games apiece and losing two.

Has the addition of Italy to the Northern Hemisphere's prestigious tournament fired-up the public's enthusiasm? Or should they have been included at an earlier date?

Is six better than five? HAVE YOUR SAY The Six Nations was successful, as every country had a game every fortnight, unlike in previous years when one team was kicking up their heels while everyone else was slaving away. England are so much stronger and fitter than everyone else but even they cannot beat the weather. I think next year it will be even closer, but Italy will not win without Dominguez, otherwise I can't wait until next February!
Matthew Stewart, Northern Ireland

Six teams will only enhance the quality of the tournament. Still a lot of hard work to do to be up to super twelve and tri-nations level, but the European teams has the potential of doing that.
Santo Salinas, Peru

Less sour grapes please.

Bob Stevenson, The Netherlands
I think Italy is a welcome addition to the tournament, adding to the diversity of styles and temperaments. The comments from several English contributors concerning the last game are of course predictable with the subtle suggestion that this was no rugby match. Why do you take yourselves so seriously? Sure Murrayfield on Sunday was a gruelling battle of strength. Can I remind you we live in the British Isles where it rains frequently and, unlike cricket the notion of "rain stopped play" does not apply. Scotland took the game to England and beat them on level terms. Less sour grapes please.
Bob Stevenson, The Netherlands

In reference to people who would like to see the 6 nations home and away I would suggest that this would take away the excitement for people who get to go to Dublin every other year etc. It would be expensive otherwise. Also more is not less. I like the new format, just that extra game which means you don't have to take a week off.
Irfon Rees, USA (ex Wales)

All teams have lost something and won something (just some more than others).

Nick Jarvie, UK
The Six Nations speak for themselves. All teams have lost something and won something (just some more than others). Italy have proved their worth by victory over last year's champions and a close call with France. Look out for Wales next year though, English arrogance could be reprimanded.
Nick Jarvie, UK

Born in England with a Scottish/Italian father and a Welsh/Irish mother my brothers and I find the question of eligibility quite amusing. We were at Murrayfield and felt that the superb atmosphere was slightly marred by unacceptable off the ball fighting and the un-sporting sour grapes of the England team in not congratulating the Scots or picking up the trophy. I enjoyed the new Six Nations format and feel that if we are to compete with the Southern Hemisphere teams it is time that a Northern Hemisphere wide tournament is set up.
Jules, England

Italy very nearly didn't finish bottom of the table which would have been a real bonus for the competition. But they did prove that, fitness aside, they deserved to be in the competition. The whole tournament was a total success. The only thing that really needs changing is the timing. It should be moved even nearer the summer. Everyone wants to see fast running rugby, not whistle strewn drudgery in a quagmire.
Graeme, England

The tournament can be improved, especially if it can be turned into a genuine European Championship.

Alasdair Brooks, UK
This year's six nations was no doubt a compelling and entertaining affair - but the tournament can be improved, especially if it can be turned into a genuine European Championship. I'd suggest a seven nations championship featuring the current six nations as automatic qualifiers, and a seventh spot reserved for the winner of a qualifying tournament for the rest of Europe. As it is, the second tier European nations (particularly Romania - who were better than Italy not too long ago) have little opportunity to enter the sort of regular top-class competition that would both improve the teams and strengthen the position of the game.
Alasdair Brooks, UK

Italy's involvement has been a success. They have proved they are capable of playing on the world stage by their win against the holders and their performances against England and France. They will only improve and provide sterner opposition for the home nation teams in years to come. This can only benefit all concerned.
Gareth, UK

Until the Northern Hemisphere takes rugby seriously, we should continue to involve the better countries in more meaningful tournaments. Italy proved that they can add something to the tournament and maybe this will spark a bigger interest in the game over there.
Craig Russell, Dubai U.A.E

The topsy-turvy nature of the results combined to make the tournament a great spectacle.

Glen Flower, Australia (ex Wales)
The topsy-turvy nature of the results combined to make the tournament a great spectacle: in marked contrast to last year's world cup. Any side that beats England is a friend of mine and its payback for us (Wales) beating them last year and giving Scotland the Championship. Italy deserve their place although they need to improve. The only way the standard will improve though is if the N. Hemisphere sides see more of the S. Hemisphere sides. This would entail bringing a strong team down under: something individual nations seem very unable to do.
Glen Flower, Australia (ex Wales)

Not really. Rugby was invented by a bloke who was rubbish at soccer - he cheated, picked up the ball and ran with it. And from what I can see it's still the case.
Craig Harry, England

The young lads came away from the match with broad grins and abiding memories - not just of a historic Italian win, but of a great sporting occasion conducted with true rugby-style sportsmanship.

Chris Jenkins, Italy
The inclusion of Italy was long overdue. I accompanied half our local Colts team to the Stadio Flaminio for the Italy-Scotland match, the first international they had ever been to, and what a marvellous day. The young lads came away from the match with broad grins and abiding memories - not just of a historic Italian win, but of a great sporting occasion conducted with true rugby-style sportsmanship. Standing in the crowd, I spoke to a number of Italians, old and young, who had never been to a rugby match before and who were amazed at the friendliness of the occasion. This was not a game marred by the anti-social antics of some spectators.
Like me, they will not forget the Scotsman, in full regalia, who ran out of the stadium some 15 minutes before the end of the match, to return a few minutes later waving the largest Italian national flag he could buy from the stall outside the ground. All around me agreed that this was true 'sport'. As a result, the reputation and knowledge of the game has been greatly enhanced.
Chris Jenkins, Italy

It was a great success. However, now that there is an even number of teams resulting in a team playing 2 at home and 3 away, the competition could be extended for 'Home' and 'Away' fixtures. I am sure this would result in a great spectacle.
Giles Emberson, UK

I think the new Six Nations format was a great success. The inclusion of Italy can only strengthen the tournament. They proved they were no pushover, and their inclusion will give them the opportunity to improve. Regarding Scotland's tremendous win over England, it was wonderful just to see the smile wiped off the face of Jeremy Guscott!
Gary Thomas, Wales

Why can't we have 'home and away' matches for each competition like in football? Would Scotland have survived a re-match at Twickenham? Twice the rugby, twice the excitement - games every week instead of every fortnight - so much more to look forward to!
Jenni, England

A great six nations, I'm glad Italy has joined they can only become an asset to the championship.
Peter Squire, Wales

Undoubtedly, the addition of Italy to the now Six Nations has been successful. At present, the Six Nations tournament has no hope of competing with the Tri-Nations. The quality simply is not good enough. The aim of the Six Nations tournament surely should be to rival that of the Super 12s. Perhaps extending the Six Nations tournament to include Canada should be the next step towards this goal.
Duncan Pennington, England (currently residing in Australia)

6 nations was a great success and Scotland today and italy at the start made it that way! Italy and the others will improve and roll on next year when it will be even more competitive.
Andrew Jones, England

It slightly defeats the purpose of there being a regional championship if they keep adding teams to the tournament

John Murray, Scotland
Having played rugby in Wales in the 60's and 70's, I am astonded at the changes that have taken place in the game. It is now a global professional game and to be successful as a professional sport it has to generate a global enthusiaism and following. Take your cue from the NFL and MLB, they are all trying to build a global brand with missionary work in Europe and Japan. Rugby has a much greater global presence than either of these USA professional sports.The NFL and MLB leagues would kill for this market share. To my mind the question is not whether the six nations is better than the five nations, it is what more can and must be done to cultivate rugby as a truely world wide professional sport able to generate support and patronage world wide. It can only be done by building local teams that have the opportunity to compete on a multi national level at many standards of play. Bring as many teams up to the world class standards of the top nations and everyone will benefit from a successful global game that can compete for the dollars/ pounds/lira that are spent on competitive sports. Bring in Romania and Russia next year is my vote.
David Winslett, USA

I think that the six nations is good but I prefer the old traditional five nations. Italy have prooved that they are no push over but it slightly defeats the purpose of there being a regional championship if they keep adding teams to the tournament. May I just add the fact that Scotland beat England!!!!!!
John Murray, Scotland

Italy have definitely enhanced the tournament and could easily have been included a year or two back. They have proved themselves worthy this year and will only get better. I look forward next year to the first of many great Roman away trips!
Steve Matthews, USA (ex-Wales)

I found the new tournament very enjoyable, and was particularly pleased with the contribution made by the Italians. As for England, they have yet again been found to be tactically inept for the big occasion. I travelled to Paris to watch them play South Africa in the hope and belief that the truly World Class players that they have (such as Johnson and Dawson) would get their just deserves and shine at the highest level. They didn't arrive at the game. Last years five nations against Wales, Dalaglio made a decision to kick for touch instead of taking the 3 points that would have sewn up the game, that typifies the lack of true killer instinct in the English game. The New Zealand game in the last Worls Cup was further evidence of this when England were in the ascendency abd failed to push home the advantage. John Mitchell might have accepted responsibility for todays failure but the RFU shoud take responsibility for denying some of the Worlds finest players their just rewards. ! ! Strategy,tactics and motivation are the responsibility of the management team.
Phil Hopkins, United Kingdom

It cannot help but improve the game in Europe,and will definitely have an impact at the grass roots club level.
Don. Hamilton, Canada

The six nations really has been enhanced by the introduction of Italy. Year in year out the unpredictable nature of the competition makes for excellent family entertainment. It's so good unfortunately that I wonder how long the BBC will afford future coverage?
Iain Macdonald, The English Peninsular ;)

Overall this enlarged chapionship has been very enjoyable save with the exception of the first half of todays game. The indisipline in both sides spoilt what is usually an exciting clash between two old enemies. Italy's first chapionship has shown that it was no mistake to include them, as they have shown a style of play with more depth and less disruption than in the past. Lets hope that the young supporters of all nationalities do not take todays game as the way the sport should be played. Rugby fans the world over should be able to expect more from any national side, let alone two sides with the history and experience of both England and Scotland. But todays poor show should not over shadow the new look championship.
Matt Darby, England

As a Scot the championship finished in the best possible way for me obviously. But I think the result today was good for the championship as a whole as an England Grand Slam would just have brought the usual calls for them to leave and play Australia etc. more often. With Italy getting better in the years ahead I also think a Grand Slam will now be a real accomplishment which won't happen too often meaning that winning the championship alone will return to being a great achievement. It's been great and I think it will only get better.
Craig Thomson, Scotland

I think the tournament has been made a lot more interesting with the input of Italy who for first timers have done really well especially with that wondeful victory over scotland. I am proud that Engaland are worthy winners of the inaugral six nations competition. I take my hat off to scotland who have nose-dived within a year from champions (thanks to Wales)to a very creditable 5th place out of 6. I don,t think I will ever see a lap of honour done again in celebration of what is no more than a massive humiliation of a tournament for scotland. Enjoy your victory as it may well be another 10 years before you can taste it again
Rich Woodward, England

I think six teams made it an interesting competition especially as all the teams were involved on each of the weekends and again the Scotland result today shows that you should never write off the JOCKS! as England have found out twice in the last ten years - need I say more!
John Tait, Dubai

Given that the Scot's only wish was to beat the English, the continually poor performance of the Irish, the lack of form of the French, and the problems with nationality that the Welsh have had, having a new team such as Italy in the tournament has made a real difference. The more the Northern Hemisphere can to do rival the Southern Hemisphere can only be good news.
Mark Whitehouse, Nottingham, Britain

Six nations has been good, but not good enough. If England is to compete is has to play the Southern Hemispheres more, and spend less time playing negative spoiling rugby with teams whose only aim is to win, regardless of how or how violent they need to be
James Cave, UK

Definitely a success and with their win over Scotland proved they have the right to be in the tournament.
Niall, England

Yes, six nations are better than five. It has meant that there have been three matches to watch every fortnight or so, and the combinations of teams have ensured exciting rugby each time. However, I am appalled by the England team display of bad spotsmanship at the end of the match against Scotland. Very few of the players stayed to clap the opposition, and none of them went up to receive their medals. That they were all upset at losing is understandable: setting such a bad example to younger players and fans is not.Come on England- you can do better than that.
Gaynor, England(I'm Welsh)

England under Woodward have finally won something but the grand Slam was not to be again. Frankly I am not surprised but for a couple of hairline decisions they would have lost to France. A France without Lamaison! Also Scotland had done their homework with Dallaglio, Greening and Back constantly playing out wide, any decent team will drive close in through them. No England are still lacking world class players. Players who do not lose their cool when physically challenged.
Norman Price, England

Italy have shown by their performances that they thoroughly merit their place in the tournament. I am sure they will improve and test all of the old five nations. As a Scot living in England I was delighted with the Scots performance against England today but perhaps Scotland needed to be brought down to earth by the Italian team. I don't feel next year that any of the teams will visit Rome expecting an easy victory.
Alan Smith, England

Six is better than five in that more internationals can only improve a team's perfomance. However, I don't believe that the five nations were ready for an additional member, nor do i believe were the italians to join. How can Northern hemisphere rugby be expected to catch up with the south, if they are playing considerably weaker and more inexperienced teams?
Guy Cooke, Australia

Have I heard the news properly? Did England really refuse to collect the cup after being beat at Murrayfield? Poor show lads - the words sulk and in a come to mind!!!
Mhairi, Scotland

A much improved tournament with the potential to get even better.

Godfrey Payne, Italy
Six nations are better than five nations. Newcomer Italy was competitive, winning against the Scots and running France close in the final game. They can only improve further next year. All in all a much improved tournament with the potential to get even better.
Godfrey Payne, Italy

All the teams seemed to have lifted their playing level with the exception of England. For the second year in a row they have failed to win the 6 nations. I do feel there is a big gap between the northern and southern hemisphere.I think the 6 nations teams need to lift the level of playing to another level to compete with Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. That level needs to include a burning desire to win.
Chris, Canada

The tournament was good this year. Especially the result of England v Scotland. They were so sure that the Grand Slam was theirs - great result. But I feel that Italy will not be as good next year as they were this year after losing Diego Dominguez, and I fear that they will become the whipping boys of the tournament - Scotland will not repeat that mistake again, and they will take a long time to relinquish the Wooden Spoon.
Xavier Cornut, France

Only the best should play,or start a new contest for the newcomers. Then the winner of that can go forward.
tom horvath, hungary

A lot of the rugby was good but the performance of officials was appalling. Todays biased display was by no means the worst refereeing in the competition. What's the point of professional players if games are to be decided by incompetent officials. Use Cameras. Punish violence.
Bob Pearce, England

By beating Scotland and giving France a good game, Italy have proved themselves to be no push-overs in their first season of six nations rugby. They can only get better. As to the argument that England need to be "tested" against Southern Hemisphere opposition, that can be said for all of the other teams as well! I'm sure Wales and Ireland would start to play a lot better if they got the change to pit their wits against the Aussies and Kiwis on a regular basis. If England won the gland slam year-on-year then they may have a point that they are not getting enough competition in the Northern Hemisphere. However, if England can't finish off a relatively poor Scottish team then what justification do they have to make such claims?
Gareth Brace, London

Yes, and much of the credit must go to Italy, who were written off at the start but played some good rugby.
David Griffiths, Spain

With Scotland defeating England yet being beaten by Italy, it shows the structure has improved. It took ages for France to establish themselves but who would deny they have been a credit to the international championship. Italy, given time, will be too
Gareth Sheen, Wales

It is an exciting championship. However, if England and France really want to learn how to compete in the southern hemisphere they should be playing there on a regular basis. The six nations can never be preparation for open rugby against the rest of the world. I take Gareth Jones's point - but perhaps if England were getting more experience of Total Rugby in the southern hemisphere then they wouldn't have been 'humbled' quite so much in the recent past. Keep the championship - but try to improve the quality of northern hemisphere rugby at the same time.
Jonathan Ribee, UK

I don't think that the gap between England and the rest is that big. It was only six points today (19-13) and I am sure that England are probably quite a good team - on their own patch. My advice to England would be to stick in there and who knows, they may win a couple of games next season. Don't get too downhearted lads.
Roger, Scotland

The competition is even more interesting than it was a few years ago.

David Jones, USA
Yes, it certainly is a successful competition full of surprises! I've only just read the account of the Scotland vs. England game. In fact the competition is even more interesting than it was a few years ago. We've have three unexpected results, ITA v SCO, FRA v IRE and SCO v ENG. What more could you ask for? The tri-nations doesn't come anywhere near the 6-nations for entertainment value. My opinion is to keep the existing structure. I think the 6-Nations tournament will help to keep rugby in the northern hemisphere healthy.
David Jones, USA

It has been a good tournament, with Italy being the biggest surprise. The most frightening feature has been the disparity between England and the other sides - the gap is huge already and seems to be increasing. England cannot carry the mantle of all northern hemisphere rugby.
Kit, England

Great! Especially since Scotland have just beaten England. If only Ireland had won yesterday...
Andrew Kelly, Scotland

A successful tournament? Yes. There have been plenty of unexpected results, demonstrating that the competition still has the ability to surprise and is a genuine contest. England are obviously raining supreme at the moment, but I sincerely hope that the sports columnists won't start droning on, as they did a few years ago, about a 'two tier' championship and that they should withdraw to play more 'worthy' opponents like Aus and NZ. All teams performances tend to be cyclic (some having deeper troughs than others!) and that has an important bearing on the unpredictability of the tournament each year. England have been humbled enough times in the past, not to get ahead of themselves in the world rankings. I don't think that further expansion is a good idea at the moment - too rapid expansion could be damaging and detract from the contest. However, including teams that can come to the tournament without being the whipping boys should be considered for the future - e.g Argentina who are a talented team that can take on all of the 'home' nations, rather than a developing country like Spain who are too likely to get hammered at every turn and lose spirit?
Gareth Jones, Wales (currently resident in USA)

Absolutely it has. If northern hemisphere rugby is going to come close to challenging the dominant southerners, the players have to experience the pressure cooker of international competition.
Mark, Australia

Without a doubt Italy have enhanced the competition

Neil, Hong Kong
Without a doubt Italy have enhanced the competition. This must be good for the game.
Neil, Hong Kong

It certainly was, and when the newcomers Italy beat Scotland (not to mention the tough times they gave other teams), everyone gained from their exceptional performances. I have thoroughly enjoyed this years Six Nations and I can't wait until next year. All the players and the teams involved deserve the heartfelt thanks of all the supporters and spectators. I think we should also extend the tournament to other countries such as Germany and Spain, so that even more people can benefit
Matthew Gaffney, UK

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See also:

02 Apr 00 | Rugby Union
Brave Scots defeat England
02 Apr 00 | Rugby Union
We were magnificent - McGeechan
01 Apr 00 | Six Nations
Wales triumph over fighting Irish
01 Apr 00 | Six Nations
Gallant Italy edged out in Paris
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