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Takeaways of the 2021 Six Nations

The 2021 Six Nations tournament had its fair share of surprises and the odds-on England finishing 5th would have broken the bank.

To all coaches, players, and spectators, it is interesting to look at the learnings and the takeaways. What caught your eye? What frustrated you? What excited you? Did we lose an audience or gain an audience because there were no spectators?

In an earlier article titled “6 Nations 2021 Must Win the Mob” I wrote about the importance of 4 key preparation areas prior to and after selection, which include technical, physical, mental, and tactical. I analyse how these areas played out during the Six Nations tournament along with the importance that discipline played during the tournament.

I also include my “Team of the Tournament” selections below. Message us on @findrugbynow (on Twitter, FB or Instagram) to let us know what you think of my selection!


Did we see an improvement in basic techniques and technical competency across all players?

Did any player improve his positional skills execution? (e.g. Dan Biggar)


Are some players too big at the expense of agility and field mobility?

If the Americans can produce basketball players of second row size and weight, who can move forwards, backwards, and upwards with pace and control, playing 80 games a season, why can’t our big guys move like that? Or are they all in Fiji?


Did any team, unit or player freeze during a game?

France looked non-plussed in their final shot at the title against Scotland. Ollivon, certainly took a long time to make decisions. On one occasion Wayne Barnes had to speed him up…for a scrum decision 10 meters from the Scotland posts!


What caught your eye? The French try from a lineout against England? The efficiency of the Welsh forward drive? The winner by the length of the M1 motorway was…Dan Biggar.

Dan Biggar’s performance at 10 for Wales was impressive. When a fly-half attacks the line, squares the defence, before arching away, the defence panic. When he can make accurate passes to two hard running centres in North and Davies, the least you get is penetration. This could be the Lions 10, 12 and 13. Someone has transformed Dan Biggar. Stephen Jones must be credited with the transformation.


Coaches at all levels will take something from the series.

If you are a Sunday morning coach of young players, you must surely avoid coaching the pick and drive. Just because you have a big lad in the squad (could be huge), don’t succumb to the temptation.

Young player rugby is about winning quick ball, pass, support, run fast and score. Then add some tackle technique for when the opposition have the ball.

If you are a senior coach, you might want some creativity in your 5-metre pick and drive.

Stats suggest that the longer you pick and drive, the least likely you are to score!

Maybe some close quarter second-man plays or little circle balls, a deceptive runner going open to blind?

Some of the pick and drives were so slow it was like watching trios of sumo wrestlers waiting to engage!

The plague of kicking contests still rears its head. Please if you are in the back 3, run at the defender, then run into the space between them! Remember you are a unit so aim to contribute – don’t pass and watch!


When as coach you have a quiet moment, study your squad list. Who is most likely to crack under pressure? Often, it’s brought about by a technical flaw, poor tackle selection and technique or rucking technique. Who flies in seconds late like a scud missile?

How Wales would love to play that last 15minutes against France again with 15 players not 13!

Team of the Tournament

Here’s my team of the tournament:

15 Stuart Hogg
14 Rees Zammit
13 George North
12 Robbie Henshaw
11 Anthony Watson
10 Dan Biggar
9 Anton Dupont
8 Charles Ollivon
7 Tom Curry
6 Tadhg Beirne
5 Alun Wyn-Jones (Captain)
4 Maro Itoje
3 Tadhg Furlong
2 Julien Marchant
1 Mako Vunipola

What’s yours?

Check out Mike’s website –

About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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