Scrums Sevens
Scrum Sevens: Greatest Six Nations tries
Will Macpherson
February 4, 2015

Wonderful tries come in many shapes and sizes and, often, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So putting a list together of the greatest Six Nations tries is a tricky and exhaustive task steeped in personal preference.

Should we take circumstance and context into account or look at it from a purely technical and aesthetic point of view? Either way, here's a look at seven of the best from this century, when five teams became six. Feel free to disagree!

Stuart Hogg v Italy, 2013

Hogg turned a two-on-one in Italy's favour into five points for Scotland © Getty Images
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First, a disclaimer: not many intercepts make top tries lists. They're generally the domain of the opportunist and the error and are rarely high on skill or difficulty. But Stuart Hogg scored an intercept try against the Italians in 2013 that was so much more than a mere sprint for the line and is well worthy of a place on this list. The Italians were in, with full-back Andrea Masi jinking through, unlocking the Scottish defence and leaving Hogg two-on-one against Luciano Orquera and Tommaso Benvenuti.

It looked like a straightforward finish would round off a fine score. Not on Hogg's watch. The full-back waited, waited, watching the ball and as Orquera went to release the final pass, stuck out his left mitt and the pill bounced up into his chest. Spotting the broken field in which he thrives, Hogg just went, swerving past tacklers and out-gassing chasers. 80 metres later and he had himself a memorable score that was so, so much more than an interception: it involved foresight, an eye for a gap and searing pace.

Mauro Bergamasco v Scotland, 2001

Mauro Bergamasco stunned Murrayfield in 2001 © PA Photos
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Mauro Bergamasco has been one of Italy's finest servants during their time in the Six Nations. As a flanker, he had the lot: appetite for a tackle, a lust for the breakdown, a slightly deranged fearlessness and a bit of pace and vision, too. The latter two attributes were on display against Scotland - who were donning a pretty unpleasant white number - in 2001. With the players spread and Scotland on the attack, Italy burrowed a turnover and rapid ball found its way straight to Bergamasco on the left wing, deep in his own half. He shrugged off a flailing Gregor Towsend and galloped into the Scottish half, feigning inside before sprinting out wide, leaving Chris Paterson for dead to touch down in the corner. Lovely job.

Shane Williams v France, 2010

Shane Williams celebrates his memorable late try against France © PA
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Shane Williams was beginning his glorious late-career pomp in 2010, and had a special Championship. If this list was all about context, then his dead-clock score to defeat Scotland in the game that had everything would make the list - it was, in fairness, a marvelous team try - but for sheer genius, it has to be his other last-minute effort in a losing cause to the French. The Welsh produced some lovely rugby in the build-up, with a chip-and-chase from Lee Byrne followed by some patient phase play and excellent straightening from Leigh Halfpenny, before the ball was floored and the French hacked away.

Problem was they hacked it to one S Williams, with a broken field of tired bodies ahead of him. He set off and was just too quick for the first tackler - Sebastien Chabal, no less - before two of the most outrageous steps the Championship has seen did for the last two men, who simply couldn't lay a hand on him.

Brian O'Driscoll v France, 2001

Try or no try? © PA
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When it comes to BOD, wonderful tries and the French, it's a case of taking your pick. There is, of course, that glorious breakthrough hat-trick of 2000, when we were given a glimpse of the scale of the talent we were dealing with. There was the simple dot down under the posts to start things off, the beautiful support line off Rob Henderson for the second and then that sumptuous pick-up, scything line and searing pace to complete the hat-trick and seal the win in Paris.

A year on and he was at it again, with all the facets of play displayed during the hat-trick in Paris at work in one beautiful try under the Dublin sun. As Ireland attacked from deep, he stalked on shoulders, waiting for the ball to find him, and when it eventually did - on the French 10-metre line, on the left-hand side of the field - he let fly, leaving five Frenchmen in his wake before diving home under pressure from full-back Xavier Garbajosa, with pictures suggesting the ball was not quite grounded in time. O'Driscoll would continue to be a pain for the French, scoring four more international tries against them in his career.

Jason Robinson v Italy, 2004

Jason Robinson scores one of three tries against Italy in 2004 © PA
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With it coming just months after their greatest triumph, England suffered something of a World Cup hangover in the 2004 Six Nations, coming third while shorn of many of their biggest players. Yet there was no sign of any ring-rustiness in their first fixture of their title defence in Rome as two of their most dangerous backs combined to score a wonderful try in a 50-9 win. Jason Robinson, unusually playing at centre, fielded an aimless Rima Wakarua kick deep in his own half and linked with Josh Lewsey through a tidy one-two, before putting on the afterburners and producing the rudest of steps to leave Wakarua on his knees, and scoring in the corner.

Lewsey's role shouldn't be underestimated - he beat a man on the outside and produced a perfect offload as he was being tackled into touch - but this was pure, unadulterated Robinson brilliance. Few who have played the game have that sort of pace or acceleration, and the step he sold Wakarua with was performed when in full flight. In truth, he was a sight to behold all day, scoring two more tries and scaring Italian defenders whenever he received the ball.

Wesley Fofana v England, 2013

Wesley Fofana embarrassed Chris Ashton twice in the same run © Getty Images
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Le gu├ępard emerged during a pretty disastrous 2012 Six Nations as France's diamond in the rough, with four tries including a late consolation against England in a defeat in Paris.

Fofana was a marked man the following year at Twickenham but it didn't matter how many Englishmen zoned in on him, he just kept shaking them off. With the ball drifting seemingly innocently through the hands of the French backs comfortably in their own territory, Fofana picked it up and ghosted past a flailing Courtney Lawes as if he wasn't there, before handing off a lame Chris Ashton tackle. Now coasting down the left wing in full flight, Ben Youngs was kept at bay then driven to try a wild diving tackle and Ashton's second bite at the cherry was equally sour. Four tackles had been evaded without a drop of sweat being broken. France were dire but they had one trump card, a throwback to their backline wizards of yore.

Cian Healy v Wales, 2013

The Welsh defence come to terms with Cian Healy's score © Getty Images
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This list is full of moments of genius by the try-scorers themselves but sometimes you must doff the cap to another inspired contribution earlier in the move. Enter Ireland and Simon Zebo in Cardiff in 2013. It all started as Rory Best charged down Dan Biggar, gathered and flung a pass to Jamie Heaslip who took it brilliantly before sending a wild off-load in the general direction of support runner Zebo. At full tilt, the winger had the wherewithal, the skill and the sheer brilliance to stick out his left boot and flick the wayward ball into his hands.

A couple of loose phases followed, with the Irish - evidently emboldened by Zebo's magic - treating the ball like a hot potato. Healy stopped the messing about, grabbed the thing and forced his way over from two metres out to provide a fittingly ugly ending to a truly beautiful try.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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