Six Nations, MLR, & Super Rugby: 10 Monday Notes

It was a huge weekend of rugby all across the globe, as we saw Round 2 of the Six Nations, Round 2 of Super Rugby, opening weekend of the MLR, and a Premiership Cup semi-final between Sale and Saracens (which you can watch again on FloRugby!)

Here are a few notes from this past weekend of non-stop action:

1. ) Andy Farrell Has That Ireland Defense Humming

New Ireland boss Andy Farrell has been well-regarded as one of the world's best defense coaches for some time, and since taking over as the head man at Ireland, you can clearly see his impact. 

In a suffocating defensive display against the Welsh on Saturday, Ireland managed to completely shut down Wales all afternoon, keeping them to single digits until an 81st minute try by Justin Tipuric brought the final score to 24-14. 

The win for Ireland makes it two out of two this Six Nations, with enormous clashes against unbeaten France and World Cup runner-up England on the Horizon. 

2.) Antoine Dupont Is Becoming A Bonafide Star

Aaron Smith. Faf de Klerk. Connor Murray. Those are the only names we've heard circulate amongst the "who's the world's best scrumhalf?" debates for the past three or four years. 

Well, there's a new kid on the block, and we'd be remiss not to add his name to the discussion. France's Antoine Dupont is injecting real life into this new-look Les Bleus team, but we shouldn't be too surprised. The field general and spark plug is running the machine that is Toulouse right now, who are the Top 14 champions and a genuine threat to win the Champions Cup. 

After Sunday's win over Italy, Dupont has France sitting pretty at 2-0 through two rounds. 

3.) England Slop Out A Road Win vs Scotland

It was rainy, windy, and ugly in Edinburgh, but England managed to handle the conditions better than the Scots to win 13-6. 

It may not have been the performance fans were hoping to see, but wins in the Six Nations never come easy, particularly on the road. England now has a chance to pull right back into the title race if it can take care of business in the remaining games. Though the comeback in Round 1 against France fell short, England did at least earn a bonus point in the loss, which could very well come in hand moving forward. 

4.) MLR Season 3 Is Upon Us

The third edition of Major League Rugby officially kicked off this weekend, and the hype ahead of this campaign seems to have greatly exceeded that of seasons past. 

As the league continues to grow and mature, more and more storylines and narratives begin to form themselves, and this weekend we got to see the start of something new and brilliant. 

5.) Houston Sabercats Lay Down A Huge Marker

The weekend kicked off with an impressive Houston Sabercats win over the Colorado Raptors, 21-12. The crowd in H-town was strong, and the atmosphere was brilliant for opening day. Following their strong ending to last season, the Cats have come out of the gates firing in 2018. 

6.) Tough Weekend For Old Glory, Gilgronis 

Old Glory's first ever MLR game didn't go particularly as they might have envisioned it. Despite playing some lovely open-field, running rugby, the men from DC were ambushed 46-13 by an efficient NOLA Gold team that looks like it is a genuine contender in 2020. 

Following a whirlwind two weeks in Austin, the newly-minted Gilgronis suffered a tough loss to Eastern Conference favorites Toronto Arrows, falling at home 38-10. The Toronto set piece was exceptional, winning penalty after penalty at scrumtime and getting on the front foot with nearly every set piece move. The Gilgronis still have a whole crew of players yet to arrive in Austin, but they'll need to right the ship quickly. 

7.) San Diego Wins The Championship Rematch

After last season's devastating heartbreak in the MLR Shield Final, the San Diego Legion exacted some revenge on the Seattle Seawolves, winning the season opener 33-24.

The win is big for San Diego, who made some big time moves over the offseason to bolster its already-strong lineup, notably adding legendary All Black Ma'a Nonu to the centers. 

Seattle, meanwhile, likely won't stress the loss too much. The Seawolves have proven themselves to be a team that peaks in the latter half of the season, and a close early-season loss on the road to the Legion won't mean the sky is falling in Seattle. They'll be their typically strong selves again in 2020; you can count on that.  

8.) Wins For Newcomers New England And Atlanta

In arguably the surprise of the weekend, the up-start New England Freejacks put 2019 semi-finalists RUNY to the sword, winning 34-14 in Las Vegas. The Freejacks scrum was dominant, and their defense gave New York absolutely nothing easy. They've quickly sent a message to the rest of the league that they are here to contend.

Rugby ATL put together a wonderful second half comeback in front of a packed home crowd to defeat the Utah Warriors 28-19 in its first ever MLR game. The young, mostly American ATL team really embodied the style of rugby that head coach Scott Lawrence loves to employ. Aggressive, relentless, and accurate, they played the second half in the right areas of the pitch and put the clamp down defensively on the Warriors.

9.) Massive Start For Warren Gatland And The Chiefs

After a 12-year run as the head coach for Wales that will likely immortalize Warren Gatland in Welsh minds, the Kiwi has returned to his homeland to coach the Waikato Chiefs in Super Rugby. Through two weeks, he couldn't have asked for a better start. 

After winning a Round 1 shootout against the Blues, the Chiefs doubled-down a week later against another fellow Kiwi team, beating the three-time defending champion Crusaders 25-15. It's a massive start to Gatland's tenure in Waikato and a statement that the Chiefs are the real deal in 2020. 

10.) Sale Clobbers Sarries, Keeps Prem Cup Dream Alive

While the Six Nations raged on, Sale and Saracens had some business of their own to attend to on Friday. The two sides fought it out in the Premiership Cup semifinals for a chance to meet Harlequins for the title. 

Playing at home in the rain, the Sale Sharks were brilliant, taking down the English giants 28-7 and progressing to their first Premiership Cup final. 

To see how they got the job done, watch the replay right here on FloRugby!

While in a dogfight to reach the Gallagher Premiership semifinals in May, the Sharks now have a very tangible opportunity to win some hardware in 2020. They'll surely build off the confidence from this huge win. 

Rugby Rules 101: What Does "Ruck" Mean?

For new players to the game of rugby, the concept of a "ruck" can be a tricky one to apprehend, as there is no other sport that involves rucking. However, once you've got a clearer picture of a ruck, also known as a "breakdown", it's a relatively easy thing to understand. 

Premiership Rugby Eyes Mid-August Return

Following the league shutdown due to coronavirus in March, the Gallagher Premiership looks set for a return to action on August 15th. One week ago, UK government officials announced that elite-level sports would be able to resume on June 1st behind closed doors. 

The 5 Best Women's Rugby Shorts

Having a comfortable pair of rugby shorts can greatly impact one’s performance during training and games. When choosing shorts, you want to take into consideration the fit and the durability, especially if you’re going to be in the scrum. The last thing you would want is for your shorts to rip during a scrum because the fabric was not durable enough. In addition to the durability, you want to make sure the shorts are breathable and comfortable for tackling, running, and potentially kicking. If you’re in the market for a new pair of shorts, here are five different types of shorts that you can check out:

Rugby vs Soccer: Former SEC Soccer Player Compares The Two

One of the great things about rugby is that it's a multi-skilled sport which lends itself well to crossover athletes. Particularly in a sports-mad country like the United States, we see tons of players seamlessly make the transition from other sports to rugby. 

How To Throw A Great Rugby Pass

Throwing a great pass can carve up a defense unlike any other facet of the game in rugby. A well-timed, well-placed ball puts a defense under enormous pressure and causes fractures in the defensive line. As long as the ball is placed accurately, on time, and in a position that the receiver can catch the ball on the move without breaking stride, it doesn't matter what it looks like. Heck, if we're looking at football, think of Peyton Manning's passes. One of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game rarely threw a spiral, but he did tick the boxes of accurate, on time, and in stride. 

Some Useful Rugby Passing Drills

Here is a quick, easy passing progression that will help you and your team sharpen your distribution skills and carve opponents up on the weekends. Even the best defenses in the world cannot defend near-perfect passing, so having the ability to run-catch-pass is one of the most lethal weapons in the book. 

We Stand With You

The events of the last week have been tremendously painful to us all.

Rugby Drills That Keep Your Social Distance

As of June 1st, many rugby teams have been granted the option of getting together to conduct practice. However, the practices must adhere to the six feet social distancing rules and players are not allowed to use any equipment. Therefore, options for a practice plan are going to be extremely limited, but that doesn't mean you can't still get some good out of having the team together. 

Bring Em Down: How To Tackle Big Guys In Rugby

For many of rugby players out there, especially us smaller ones, we're all too familiar with the sight of a large, rampaging big man or woman lined up across from us about to get the ball. Our fight or flight instincts kick in, and in that moment of instinctual reaction we dictate the likelihood that the tackle does or does not get made. 

Step By Step Guide: How To Break Tackles In Rugby

One of the best ways to completely unhinge a defense is to beat your defender one on one with a step or a tackle bust. While not all of us can step like Cheslin Kolbe, we do all have the ability to break a tackle and get our team on the front foot. No matter your size, speed, or strength, you can always bust out of a tackle with some clever use of footwork and a trust in your balance.