Quite possibly the most highly anticipated Rugby documentary since the Springboks World Cup 2019 Recap ‘Chasing The Sun’, Netflix’s ‘Six Nations – Full Contact’ hit our screens just one hour ago.
For the streaming giants, their first full foray into the beautiful sport follows European Rugby’s elite during the sport’s oldest tournament.
— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) January 17, 2024
Offering behind-the-scenes access the camera crews delve into the belly of the beast to bring fans closer than they have ever been before to their teams.
Episode one focuses primarily on Scotland’s build-up to and including their clashes with England and Wales. To date, the clear star of the series is flyhalf Finn Russell, a main character on camera, offering a fascinating insight into several topics.
One such topic is his dynamic with head coach Gregor Townsend, with the two men admitting that they didn’t always see eye-to-eye but now appear to be in a much healthier place. Such was the relationship breakdown that Townsend pointed out that it had seen him exclude Russell from past squads, a fact he now regrets.
This conversation dovetails into the team securing victory over England at Twickenham and delves into the intensity of that fixture with some exceptional close-up shots of both the players and Townsend in the coaching box.
As for Russell, he was asked about what type of player he was with the flyhalf, saying, “I’m Finn Russell, number ten for the Scotland Rugby team.
“Some people might say I’m good to watch; if you’re a football fan, you might say I’m kinda like Messi.” He said with a chuckle.
— Guinness Men’s Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) January 24, 2024
In addition to their time spent with the Scottish team, the series touches on England with new head coach Steve Borthwick and flyhalf Marcus Smith.
Smith discusses his background of growing up in the Philippines and later Singapore, and the producers lean into his new role as the number ten playing alongside Owen Farrell.
Following Smith in the build-up to the Scotland match, they highlight a key moment when Smith opted to keep the ball instead of pass, which appeared to cost England a crucial try-scoring opportunity. From here, the episode has commentary which calls into question Smith’s role for the upcoming matches which comes moments after a snippet of Farrell’s leadership in the changing room at half-time.
Returning to Scotland for their clash with Wales, Russell and Townsend have a great moment where they discuss tactics before moving on to the match itself.
This appears to set up a segway for the Welsh squad for future episodes as they mention that Warren Gatland coached teams that had never lost to Scotland. Of course, Scotland kicked on to defeat Wales with a record score with this segment leaning into moments of brilliance from Russell.
Closing out the episode with Scotland celebrating in the changing room before looking ahead to the next episode, which begins with England star Ellis Genge in his home town of Bristol.
Summing up the first episode, it is clear that the producers are looking to lean into the characters as they did with Formula One’s Drive To Survive series, which appears to be a great approach on a number of fronts. For regular rugby fans, this access feels fresh and veers away from the standard post-match press conference style access we are used to.
For those coming to the sport with a limited understanding, it is a great stepping stone to get a true appreciation of the Championship’s history and a basic outlet of how the sport works.
All eight episodes are now available on Netflix and truly whet the appetite for this year’s competition, which gets underway on Friday, February 2nd when France and Ireland clash in Marseille.