Another week, another round of exhilarating Six Nations rugby. This one didn’t quite have the same amount of end-to-end action as we saw in the previous rounds, with all six teams now focusing on putting on performances, working on what hasn’t been going well and ensuring that they secure the points needed to achieve their aims, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any key discussions to be had over the next couple of weeks about where each team is and their current strengths and weaknesses.

As always, Total Rugby Analysis has been across all three games and has picked out three talking points from the weekend and why each is worth thinking about between now and the next round of matches in a couple of weeks’ time.

Italy’s rebuild continues to move in the right direction

In the last 12 months, head coach Kieran Crowley has been working hard on addressing the areas of his Italy side that he felt needed to be improved, and those have included general squad quality, desire and an ability to stay in games for longer. Last year’s tournament saw them put together several strong performances which culminated in the now-famous win in Cardiff last March, whilst they continued that progression in the Autumn when they secured wins over Samoa and Australia.

This year, the attention has been on developing their overall tactics and game plans, with them needing to find different ways of playing in order to cause their opponents more problems on the field. Against Ireland, despite the eventual defeat, they demonstrated that they have been working on this during training, with their performance containing a mix of short and long passes and good ball speed around the field, as well as nice combinations between players that kept Ireland guessing and did create some gaps.

They are still being let down by their general execution, so that is perhaps what they need to look at as the next stage of their rebuild, but at the moment it is just nice to see them being brave and trying things out, with them proving to be a handful for every team who has faced them so far.

Wales’ lack of urgency hinders their positive play

Anyone who has watched Wales play rugby in the last year will know that they have plenty of ball-carrying ability and are tough to stop when they get into full flow. However, they will also know that what has let them down when they have managed to punch a hole in the opposing defensive line is the lack of urgency from those behind once the ball has gone to ground.

In their defeat to Italy last year, this led to Italy securing easy turnovers and continually keeping their opponents under pressure, whilst England, though defensively robust at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon, were helped out in no small part by Wales lacking urgency and making it very easy for the likes of flanker Jack Willis to get his hands on the ball.

They did improve in the second half and fought hard to get something from the match, but ultimately it was these moments of poor quality that let them down and which will continue to let them down if they don’t address them soon.

Scotland let down by uncharacteristic errors

Before the tournament began, many would have seen Scotland’s visit to France as a battle between a team hoping to challenge for the title and a team trying to play catch-up after a couple of disappointing performances. However, not many would have expected Scotland to be the more in-form of the two, and yet that is how it was after two rounds of the tournament, with them putting on two really strong performances and sitting joint top of the table with Ireland.

With that in mind, there was a lot of hope that they could go to the Stade de France and pick up yet another positive result. Ultimately though, they fell short at the hands of their hosts, and what will frustrate them the most is that a lot of France’s good play came through their own mistakes. Star fly-half Finn Russell has so often been the catalyst for everything that they have done well on the field, but he was not at his majestic best in Paris, with him kicking too long at times and making a poor pass that led to France’s breakaway try in the first half, whilst the team also lost their defensive shape in the closing stages which gave Gael Fickou a gap through which he could score a late try for the home side.

Rugby is a game of fine margins, and Scotland unfortunately had too many details that just weren’t there on Sunday afternoon, and that was why they ended up second best on the day.