England’s second title in a row said more about the weakness of the opposition in a tournament lacking the subtlety that will be needed by the Lions
The Six Nations is the envy of the southern hemisphere – for its licence to print money rather than the quality of the rugby it inspires. England retained the title but were written off in New Zealand as clunky musclemen who live in a cave, a view compromised by the praise then lavished on Ireland, whose record of two tries in their final three matches was hardly a testament to their perceived verve and guile.
Bonus points were trialled this year in order to, in the words of the tournament’s chairman, Pat Whelan, “materially improve what we already have and enhance the competition as a spectacle”. The system made no difference beyond providing consolation in defeat and overall the 2017 tournament was summed up in the meeting between France and Scotland in Paris, when the physical onslaught of the home side subdued opponents who had tried to dance around the ring.