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PHOTO COURTESY "L'EQUIPE"

MEN

Wales beat France - The opening of the 2019 Six Nations Championship began in Paris, Friday, February 2, at 9 p.m. local time under wet skies. The French burst out to a 16-0 halftime lead and the crowd at the Stade de France was ecstatic. Les Bleus lost to Wales 14-13 in 2018 and the expected win would revenge the narrow loss, and more importantly, notch a first game victory in the 2019 season. But games are comprised of two halves, and, in the second period, France fell apart, giving way to the pressure from a resurgent Welsh XV. In less than 12-minutes, the visitors had scored two tries with conversions to trail 16-14. A penalty put Wales ahead 17-16. The French fans rallied with the singing of the inspirational “Marseillaise,” and the home team scored on a penalty to lead 19-17 at the 70th-minutes. Two minutes later, George North intercepted an errant long pass to score under the post. Final tally: Wales 24, France 19. The headline in L’Equipe, the main sports newspaper in France, expressed the nation’s disappointment. It reads: “HOPELESS.”

England beat Ireland – The money game witnessed England defeat second ranked Ireland 32-20 away in Dublin, in what many stated was the best played English match in Coach Eddie Jones’ tenure from 2015. The Red Roses dominated from the opening whistle against last season’s Six Nations Grand Slam winner, and conqueror in Dublin of the All Blacks in November. A minor upset with major implications within the tournament, and a portent of what might be in the 2019 September World Cup in Japan.

Scotland defeat Italy – The Scots started their campaign with an easy 33-20 win against Italy, home at Murrayfield.

WOMEN

France routed Wales – The French women, fresh off a memorable upset of the Black Ferns in France, romped against a young Welsh side. The game was played at the Altard Stadium in Montpelier with a capacity of 15, 675.

England romped over Ireland – The Red Roses, the number two ranked Women’s side, had an easy time against Ireland, winning 51-7. Ireland has shown none of the poise nor prowess from their 2014 World Cup performance that included an upset against New Zealand. Match at Energia Stadium, Dublin. (Capacity: 6,000)

Italy win against Scotland - The Italian Women improve each year, defeating a mediocre Scottish side 28-7 away at Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow (Capacity, 4,765)