Box office Feyi-Waboso and Garbisi’s redemption – Six Nations talking points

There were wins for Italy, England and France in an enthralling round four of the Guinness Six Nations that ensures there will be something at stake in all three final games of the tournament.

Here the PA news agency examines five things learned from the weekend.

A star is born

England celebrate
Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, second left, is a star in the making for England (Mike Egerton/PA)

Other players may have had a bigger impact on England’s inspired upset of Ireland, but few brought Twickenham to its feet like Immanuel Feyi-Waboso with the ball in his hands. The Exeter wing is genuine box office and despite making only his first start after two replacement appearances, the 21-year-old showed he has the big game temperament to match his electric running skills. Cardiff-born Feyi-Waboso opted for the Red Rose over Wales in January and it is to Steve Borthwick’s credit that he kept the medical student out of Warren Gatland’s hands and then fast tracked him into the side.

Mission impossible?

The reason why no team has won back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era was laid bare at Twickenham where Ireland’s expected procession to the greatest prize in European rugby ended in despair. Even a team of the quality of Andy Farrell’s men – who are quite possibly the best in the world despite South Africa retaining the World Cup last autumn – will meet insurmountable roadblocks in such a demanding tournament. On Saturday it came in the shape of an England side whose game clicked into place, providing the ammunition to match their resolve after being taken apart by Scotland. Completing successive Grand Slams remains the Holy Grail in this hemisphere.

Garbisi’s redemption

Paolo Garbisi kicked the decisive penalty against Scotland
Paolo Garbisi kicked the decisive penalty against Scotland (Mike Egerton/PA)

No Italy player will have felt the joy and relief of a seismic victory over Scotland more than Paolo Garbisi. A fortnight after a bungling last-gasp penalty miss cost the Azzurri victory over France, his 73rd-minute kick proved the difference in a glorious 31-29 triumph at the Stadio Olimpico. Remarkably, once again the ball dropped off the tee for his first shot at goal against Scotland but this time he showed the composure to still nail the kick as well as refusing to let a later miss derail his game. Italy have the precious victory their performances deserve and in Garbisi they field a classy playmaker who will surely be at the heart of more big days.

Riding the Scotland rollercoaster

Scotland have flattered to deceive once again
Scotland have flattered to deceive once again (Adam Davy/PA)

It was classic Scotland – flatten England in style to propel them back into the title conversation only to then fall in Rome. Their extraordinary inconsistency extends from game to game and within matches themselves, as their near ruinous collapse against Wales in round one showed. Quite possibly the most complete side in the nation’s history is in danger of seeing their talent broken apart on the rocks of their ambivalent performances. Time is running out for Gregor Townsend’s men to lift some silverware and the evidence from the Stadio Olimpico suggests that may well never happen.

Wooden spoon shootout

These are grim times for Wales who were overpowered 45-24 by France at the Principality Stadium to set up a wooden-spoon decider against Italy at the same venue on Saturday. And all the momentum is with the Azzurri having drawn with France in a game they should have won before stunning Scotland. Wales have not finished bottom of the Six Nations since 2003 when Steve Hansen was in charge and their young players are undergoing a baptism of fire as they learn on the hoof what it means to play at Test level. Spirited but outclassed, it could get worse before it gets better.