7 Rugby Highlights from 2020

Despite the disappointment of rugby almost being erased from the year and the delayed professional game, rugby still served up some memorable moments in 2020.

1. Justin Tipuric’s try, Wales v England, Twickenham.

2. Referee hero Nigel Owens celebrated 100 International Tests – then announced his retirement after a lengthy and stellar career.

https://twitter.com/BBCSportWales/status/1337827055375937537?s=20

3. Leinster go unbeaten in PRO14 triumph!

The 2019/20 PRO14 season may have been reduced by six games due to the effect of Covid-19, but for Leinster to go the season unbeaten in the course of winning the title was still a fantastic achievement.

4. Six Nations history was made in 2020 as for the first time ever, a side was crowned champions behind closed doors in October.

In 2020, we saw four games called off due to Covid-19 – Ireland vs Italy in Round 4, and all three Round 5 fixtures: Wales vs Scotland, Italy vs England and France vs Ireland.

The fixtures were rescheduled for the final two weeks of October in front of empty stadiums, and though France played the most entertaining rugby and actually beat England well in Round 1, Eddie Jones’ men eventually won out on points difference due to a crucial losing bonus-point picked up late on in Paris.

England also went on to win the women’s Six Nations!

5. Alun Wyn Jones breaks record for most Test caps

Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones equalled the world Test match appearance record of 148 when he captained Wales against France in October, and has since gone on to extend the record to 152 (143 Wales, 9 British & Irish Lions).

The 35-year-old lock played his 148th game in Paris to match the mark set by New Zealand’s World cup-winning skipper Richie McCaw.

6. We welcomed the Autumn Nations Cup to our screens!

The 2020 Autumn International rugby matches were replaced by a new eight-team tournament – the Autumn Nations Cup – which featured the Six Nations teams plus Fiji and Georgia.

The inaugural Autumn Nations Cup tournament was played across four weekends from Friday 13th November to Sunday 6th December.

England beat France 22-19 in a tense final to lift the Autumn Nations Cup in front of 2,000 fans at Twickenham.

7. Exeter conquer Europe & the Premiership

In October, Heineken Champions Cup history was made as Exeter Chiefs became champions for the first time, defeating Racing 92 31-27 in a stunning final at Ashton Gate in Bristol.

Can we really forget 2020?

It was definitely a strange year for the sport, but just think:

1) We’re going to see more epic rugby moments in 2021.

2) The tantalising prospect – Covid-19-permitting – of a women’s World Cup and a British & Irish Lions summer tour in the coming year.

3) Making rugby a safer game to play and a better game to watch is now top of everybody’s agenda.

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