In Netflix’s Six Nations: Full Contact, we saw the highs, lows, heartbreaks, and reward the world’s oldest rugby tournament can bring.
Ireland reached the pinnacle, England stuttered, Wales were in crisis, France were looking to feel the highs of victory once again, Scotland were on the search for a maiden championship, and Italy were improving as they hunted for victory.
A lot has changed since the Six Nations 2023. Captains and coaches have come and gone and huge stars have opted for the Olympics, the NFL, or retirement.
However, the ‘Lionel Messi’ of rugby remains, England are still adapting, Wales are in transition, Italy are on the up, France still have their flair, and Ireland will be going for glory once again.
So, let’s take a look at six storylines from Six Nations: Full Contact that you can follow in 2024…
1) England adapt to life without Owen Farrell
Heading into the Six Nations 2023, England were in a world of turmoil after sacking Eddie Jones and bringing in head coach Steve Borthwick not long before the tournament started. We saw them learn about each other as the tournament progressed, overcoming defeats and disappointment from fans to mould themselves into the team they wanted to be.
While Borthwick has been in his role for over a year now, leading the side to a World Cup semi-final, they will now have a new challenge to adapt to – life without captain and stalwart Owen Farrell.
Throughout the documentary, we saw Farrell as the ever-present leader in the dressing room, giving rousing team talks as his side adapted and developed.
This year, new voices will have to arise in the dressing room, starting with new captain Jamie George.
2) ‘Goldenballs’ Louis Rees-Zammit leaves Wales for NFL dream
Squad announcements can bring shocks every tournament, but there has been none bigger than Louis Rees-Zammit leaving rugby on the eve of Wales’ Six Nations squad announcement to pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.
In Full Contact, Rees-Zammit is shown as one of the future stars of Welsh rugby as they go through a period of transition, head coach Warren Gatland hoping the young winger, affectionally called ‘Goldenballs’ by one of his friends, can overcome injury woes and start to give him 80 minutes on the field consistently.
Now, Wales will be without their rapid star man and will turn to other youngsters to carry the torch forward, especially 21-year-old captain Dafydd Jenkins.
3) Ireland looking to stay on top as life without Johnny Sexton starts
It is fair to say that Ireland are the team to beat heading into the Six Nations 2024 after their Grand Slam victory in 2023. Full Contact shows the camaraderie and professionalism in a side that is touted as one of Ireland’s best ever, Johnny Sexton leading them to glory on home soil at the end of the tournament.
Now, life without Sexton begins. Big characters on the field such as new captain Peter O’Mahony and Andrew Porter will be looking to continue the siege mentality that has guided the side to recent success as they look to consolidate their place as Europe’s top side.
Plus, they will have the added element of Andy Farrell wanting to temporarily leave Ireland in the best place possible as he turns his attention to coaching the British and Irish Lions. Full Contact shows Farrell’s passion for his side and they will want to reward their head coach in what could be many players’ last Six Nations under him.
4) The ‘Lionel Messi’ of rugby- Can Finn Russell guide Scotland to glory?
If there is one thing that Full Contact shows about the newly named Scotland co-captain Finn Russell is that he is a real character in their side.
Russell’s rugby flair makes him a special player but that is mixed with a personality that has led to tense relations with head coach Gregor Townsend in the past.
Full Contact followed Scotland in what was one of their best opportunities ever to claim Six Nations glory and although they ultimately fell short, a cohesion in the squad seemed evident by the end of the tournament, Russell showing his leadership skills amongst a dressing room that clearly highly respected him.
With a newly revitalised relationship, Russell and Townsend will want 2024 to be the year they get even closer to finally being crowned champions.
5) Italy improvement? Can they avoid the wooden spoon
Full Contact explored the agony of Italy at the Six Nations 2023, coming close to victories over top nations, even France, but ultimately falling short each time.
The stress of coming so close was shown through the agony felt in the coaching box by former head coach Kieran Crowley who was making every tackle and kicking every ball with his players.
He wanted his side to believe they could win and now we have to see if new head coach Gonzalo Quesada can take them one step further and actually get some big victories.
We also saw young Welsh-born star Stephen Varney coming into his own for Italy and growing in confidence as the tournament progressed.
A good friend of Rees-Zammit, Varney is once again one of the young stars to keep an eye out for in 2024, especially since Rees-Zammit’s departure to pastures new.
6) French flair without Antoine Dupont – can France adapt without their star man
If there is one thing French rugby has, it is a philosophy that rugby should be a spectacle; flair and finesse always taking precedent in the way they play.
We saw this persist in Full Contact but the man at the wheel was Antoine Dupont, who has now chosen to represent France in the Olympics and miss this year’s Six Nations.
It is a very rare decision for a rugby player of Dupont’s calibre to make such a decision and now, France will have to rely on other stars to be the integral cog in the machine, playing with the French instinct that has brought them so much success over the past few years.
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