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. 

Sponsor Allianz Severs Long-Running Ties With Saracens

Allianz heaped more misery on English and European rugby champions Saracens on Thursday, announcing they would be terminating their sponsorship of both the club and the stadium at the end of the season.

Major League Rugby Round 2 Preview

If Week 1 taught us anything about the 2020 season, it's that the competition this year is going to be wide open. 

Hong Kong, Singapore 7s Postponed Due To Coronavirus

Rugby's Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens events were postponed from April to October over the Coronavirus on Thursday, joining the Chinese Grand Prix, golf, and soccer fixtures on the growing list of sporting casualties.

Townsend's Message To Russell Simple: Get On Board Or Get out

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend believes Finn Russell has shown he is unwilling to "align himself" with the standards expected of players in his Six Nations squad.

Ireland Eager To Knock Off Grand Slam Champions Wales

Ireland coach Andy Farrell says his side are brimming with confidence ahead of their match with Grand Slam holders Wales after launching their Six Nations campaign with victory against Scotland.

Wales Looks To Extend Six Nations Win Streak To 9 vs Ireland

Saracens centre Nick Tompkins will make his first Wales start in the Six Nations clash against Ireland on Saturday, in the only change to Wayne Pivac's line-up.

Russell Again Left Out Of Scotland Six Nations Squad

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has told Finn Russell he will not consider bringing the shamed star back into the fold until after this weekend's Six Nations clash with England.

Eddie Drops Youngs To Bench, Names England Side For Scotland

England coach Eddie Jones has dropped experienced scrum-half Ben Youngs to the bench in one of five changes to his side for this weekend's Six Nations clash against Scotland.

Super Rugby: Five Round 2 Talking Points

The Wellington Hurricanes travel to Buenos Aires to face the Jaguares this weekend after a drubbing in Cape Town, while the Auckland Blues have a mini-injury crisis just a week into the new campaign.