The Six Nations 2017 tournament came to the conclusion with England retaining their title and being the most dominant team in the tournament. Here are few of the key points from the latest edition.
ENGLAND ARE A CUT ABOVE THE REST
Although England's hopes of a second successive Grand Slam and a world-record 19th successive Test match win floundered against Ireland in Dublin, they dominated this season's tournament and remain firmly on course for a full-scale tilt at 2019 World Cup glory. Head coach Eddie Jones has made a stunning impact during his 15-month stint at the helm, overseeing a consistently-successful squad and developing a playing depth that is the envy of many. Time will probably show that Ireland was merely a blip on the long road to Japan in two years' time.
THE RELEGATION DEBATE WILL CONTINUE TO RAGE
Italy's performances in the Six Nations this season did little to silence the debate whether or not the tournament should have a promotion and relegation system. Once again, the Azzurri finished with the wooden spoon after losing all five games, conceding 201 points - including 26 tries - and scoring just 50. With the likes of emerging forces such as Georgia continuing to make considerable progress, Italy's seat at the Six Nations top table will come under further scrutiny.
VERN COTTER HAS LEFT SCOTLAND IN RUDE HEALTH
Scotland were a real success story of this season's Six Nations, producing some eye-catching rugby as they won all three of their home games against Ireland, Wales and Italy. Head coach Vern Cotter will be succeeded by former Scotland fly-half Gregor Townsend this summer, and Townsend is set to inherit a squad packed with exciting talent. Players like centre Huw Jones, wing Tommy Seymour, fly-half Finn Russell, lock Jonny Gray and flanker Hamish Watson made impressive contributions at various stages of the competition, suggesting that the future is bright.
THE BRITISH AND IRISH LIONS WILL TAKE A POWERFUL SQUAD TO NEW ZEALAND
Lions head coach Warren Gatland is spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the squad that will take on world champions New Zealand during a 10-match tour this summer. The audition stage is almost ever - Gatland names the squad next month - and the Six Nations underlined exactly how much depth he has to choose from, especially in areas such as the second-row and back-row. England players will unquestionably dominate in terms of player numbers, and rightly so, given their success, as Gatland now sits down to formulate the final group following numerous Six Nations highlights.
SIX NATIONS BONUS POINTS TRIAL SHOULD CONTINUE
Organisers brought the bonus points system into play for a first time this term as the Six Nations saw itself aligned with all other major competitions in world rugby. And it proved a welcome addition, with five try-scoring bonus points and six losing bonus points being claimed across the tournament. After a couple of unspectacular years, the Six Nations in 2017 lacked nothing in terms of drama, excitement and controversy, and the bonus point process is one that should now be employed permanently following the success of this season's trial.
Our 6 Nations cover is sponsored by Allett Mowers