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Six Nations 2023: 'A tournament that promised so much - and delivered'

Each member of the set-up was heavily outnumbered by family and friends, to a person drinking in the achievement of a first Grand Slam on home soil in the professional era.

It was a lovely sight and a fitting end to a Six Nations that promised so much and delivered in equal measure.

To say the sport was able to park its problems during the tournament would be naïve - at one point the Welsh financial crisis threatened to throw the whole championship off course, while the controversy around Freddie Steward's red card was a stark reminder of how the game is grappling with its very essence.

But over the course of six dramatic weeks, the enduring appeal of the Six Nations, a tournament like no other, was there in abundance. In the words of former Wales captain Sam Warburton, it is the gift that keeps on giving.

However, while the majority of the games at one point felt in the balance - the tournament may never have been as competitive as this across the board - the irony is that in mid-March we are pretty much as we were in early February.

Ireland and France started the tournament head and shoulders above the rest; they end it that way too. Twelve months ago the French swept the board after beating Ireland in round two; this year the roles were reversed.

So while Ireland deservedly end the championship on top of world rugby, France are not too far behind. Both are outstanding rugby teams.

Elsewhere Scotland's three wins ensured they are the best of the rest - which is backed up by the world rankings - but they missed opportunities to take a major scalp, a familiar frustration for Scottish supporters after a narrow defeat by New Zealand in the autumn.

England and Wales came into the tournament in poor form and with new coaches promising fresh starts, but end it with as many questions as answers. A couple of months into the new regimes, and neither seem sure yet about their best team, or their best style.

England were not able to improve on their two wins in 2022, nor Wales on their solitary victory a year ago. Both Steve Borthwick and Warren Gatland are up against coaches who have been building their teams over the course of at least three years, and it shows.

Both are also grappling with turbulent domestic scenes - in Wales especially - and questions over squad depth and the effectiveness of their player pathways. England Under-20s were hammered at home by France, while the Welsh U20s lost all five matches.

Finally, Italy were improving and threatening, ensuring no game felt like a dead rubber - great for the tournament - but nonetheless finished winless.