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Netflix’s “Six Nations: Full Contact”

Netflix’s venture into the muddy world of rugby, “Six Nations: Full Contact”, has sparked a mix of anticipation and debate among fans and critics alike. The series, aiming to do for rugby what Drive to Survive did for Formula 1, offers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the 2023 Six Nations tournament. But has it managed to capture the essence of rugby and broaden its appeal?

At its core, “Six Nations: Full Contact” provided an intimate glimpse into the lives of the sport’s biggest stars, covering their triumphs, struggles, and the sheer brutality of rugby.

The series focuses on personal stories of players like Ellis Genge, revealing his battles with impostor syndrome, and Andrew Porter, coping with the loss of his mother and his struggles with mental health. These narratives bring a human element to the sport, showcasing the emotional and physical toll it exacts on players.

Critics have lauded the series for shedding light on these less-visible aspects of rugby, offering insights into the players’ lives off the pitch and the intense preparations for the championship.

However, some argue that the series falls short of fully opening the door to the sport’s inner workings, lacking the raw, unfiltered exchanges that could have elevated it to the heights of its motorsport counterpart.

Still, it may be unfair to only consider Netflix’s foray into rugby under the shadow of Drive to Survive. The expectations placed on any new sports docuseries to transform its viewership and elevate its chosen sport to new levels in an attempt to replicate the Formula 1 hit may be misplaced. Excuse the pun, but there doesn’t seem to be a winning formula. However, Full Contact does enough to expose new fans to rugby and capitalize on the existing fanbase’s fervour.

The timing of the release of this series builds on fans anticipation of the 2024 Six Nations tournament. The drama of the last championship that Full Contact captured is due to continue in this year’s incarnation, with France and Ireland both looking to prove themselves after early exits in the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and classic fixtures such as England v Wales are set to dazzle fans.

As the rugby community and newcomers alike digest the series, its long-term impact on the sport’s global profile will unfold.

“Six Nations: Full Contact” might not be the game-changer some hoped for, but it’s a welcome addition to the growing genre of sports documentaries, potentially paving the way for deeper explorations of rugby in the future.

At the very least it will hype players up for the upcoming Six Nations matches.

About Ellaine

Ellaine is the founder of FRN and author of "Mini and Youth Rugby: Complete Guide for Coaches and Parents" (published October 2015). She has been playing rugby union for over 10 years in the UK and the US for teams including Oxford University Blues, London Wasps, Henley, NOVA, and GWU. She has recently developed a love for rugby 7s and has played on several international rugby 7s teams. She also enjoys playing touch rugby and regularly plays for the FRN Mixed Touch Rugby team. She is passionate about helping others develop a love for rugby. View all posts by Ellaine

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