ESPN's Six Nations review: Player of the weekend, flop and more

Ireland fans should still be smiling on Monday morning following a weekend that saw their side crowned 2018 Six Nations champions following their victory over Scotland and England's defeat in Paris.

There was also delight for Wales, who rebounded from back-to-back losses with a bonus-point win against Italy that catapulted them up to second in the championship table.

But who had a weekend to remember, and who had one to forget? We take a look at the biggest talking points from week three.

Player of the week

Jacob Stockdale (Ireland). In a weekend of celebration for Joe Schmidt's side there was a moment of history for one of the newest members of the Ireland squad. Stockdale's impressive start to life in the green jersey continued on Saturday as he displayed his finishing instincts to score his side's opening two tries against Scotland. He picked off Pete Horne with ease for his first and then showed excellent footwork to beat Blair Kinghorn on the touchline to dot down his second. They were important scores, too, at a time when Scotland were well in the game. Stockdale now has 10 tries in just eight Test appearances, while he is only the second player in championship history to score multiple tries in three successive Four/Five/Six Nations games. Oh, and he is also the only Irishman ever to score six tries in a single championship. Bravo.


Sergio Parisse (Italy). That may seem harsh given the commitment, effort and pride he has put into the Italian cause over the best part of two decades. But his performance in Cardiff was not one of his best, and helped condemn his side to what was a 99th defeat of his Test career. Italy were the better team for long spells of the first half at the Principality Stadium, yet they trailed at half-time mainly because they gifted Wales two tries inside the opening six minutes. The second of those, owed much to an awful attempted tackle from Parisse as Owen Watkin sped into the Italian half. It allowed the centre to look up and find George North on his shoulder to score. That was one of five tackles the talismanic No. 8 missed. He only attempted nine.

Coaching call

Jacques Brunel made only one change to his France team for the visit of England on Saturday night, but it was an important one. Francois Trinh-Duc was recalled in place of fellow veteran Lionel Beauxis and was instrumental in much of the work that Les Bleus did in attack. It was his crossfield kick that led to the penalty try as the equally impressive Remy Grosso tapped the ball down for the waiting Benjamin Fall, who found his path to the try line blocked by Anthony Watson's high swinging arm. It was an expertly precise kick from Trinh-Duc, whose placement ensured that Jonny May was forced to readjust in mid air. The fly-half put in a shift in defence too, completing 10 tackles as part of a huge French effort.

Referee call

Jaco Peyper (France vs. England). Ultimately the decision to award France a penalty try as a result of Watson's efforts to halt Fall in the left corner won the hosts the game against England, and it was the right call. There was no malicious intent from the England fullback but his eagerness to prevent the French wing getting to the try line caused him to go high. The only question Peyper had to ask himself was whether that act prevented a probable try being scored: the proximity of the line meant it had. It was unfortunate that Watson had to leave the field too but the referee had little choice.

Talking point

Ireland will have deservedly celebrated long into the Dublin night on Saturday, but their victory over Scotland was not without an unsavoury moment. The sight of a dazed Cian Healy staggering to his feet in the 36th minute, unaware of his surroundings before launching into a ruck and helping the Irish defensive effort is one that might have been deemed heroic 20 years ago but is extremely worrying now. It is the sort of moment that increased concussion protocols are supposed to render a thing of the past. Yet, Joe Schmidt didn't deem it important enough to offer an update on the prop's fitness following the match. If World Rugby is serious about tackling head injuries, it is something they should look into.