All hail the Six Nations, the tournament that never ceases to surprise and fascinate. Having scraped one victory last season and gone home from the World Cup early, Wales looked to be continuing their downward spiral when they trailed England 19-6 with 20 minutes remaining of their opening match on February 2.
On the day Jonny Wilkinson set a world points record, the England flyhalf was upstaged by opposite number Chris Paterson in Scotland's upset 15-9 victory at Murrayfield on Saturday. Paterson, a metronome-like place kicker, is on a remarkable run of 30 successful penalties and conversions in a row dating back to the 2007 World Cup.
England, fired by the boot of Jonny Wilkinson, dashed French hopes of a Six Nations grand slam with a 24-13 win over France at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. It was England's first away win over France in the Six Nations since 2000, and left unbeaten Wales as the only side now capable of claiming the grand slam.
France and England meet next Saturday in the Six Nations at the same venue where French World Cup hopes were extinguished by their bitter rivals. New French coach Marc Lievremont has swept out a lot of the old guard and replaced them with fresh faces with a view to rebuilding for the 2011 World Cup.
Italy's South African coach Nick Mallett said he was frustrated by his side's two crucial first-half mistakes that cost them a first-ever victory over England. Italy lost 23-19 at Rome's Stadio Olimpico in the Six Nations on Sunday in a match where they came as close as ever to beating England in 14 attempts.
Lawrence Dallaglio has announced his England retirement with immediate effect and intends to end his club career at the end of the current northern hemisphere season. Number eight Dallaglio made the last of his 85 England appearances during October's World Cup final defeat against South Africa in Paris.
Britain's newspapers on Sunday hailed the bravery and spirit of England's defeated World Cup side, praising South Africa for their win but mulling over a controversial refereeing decision. For those who managed to squeeze match reports into their first editions, newspapers said South Africa were worthy winners in the game's showpiece.
South Africa exploded on Saturday night, the final whistle in the World Cup bringing the rainbow nation on to the streets in the time it takes to lift the Webb Ellis trophy. "The country needs this," shouted fan Evan Rice. "Last time, in 1995, we were on the crest of the wave. Now, though, this is better."
A ruthless South Africa punished England's ill-discipline with a 15-6 win over the defending champions in the Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France north of Paris on Saturday. Fullback Percy Montgomery took his points total for the tournament past the century mark by converting each of his four penalty attempts.
South Africa defeated defending champions England 15-6 in a tense World Cup final at the Stade de France in Paris on Saturday. South Africa, the 1995 champions, struck first after seven minutes when England centre Mathew Tait was penalised for holding on to the ball and Percy Montgomery slotted over a comfortable penalty in front of the posts.