Six Nations Thoughts And A Preview Of Sorts

3 02 2011

We love this time of year.

Throughout the year there are several months or period of weeks that, because of the regular international sport, we particularly look forward to. Late in the year there is the Autumn Internationals where you are assured of high quality rugby every weekend for a month. During August there is the headline test series of the English Summer which provides weeks of entertainment and, of course, probably our favourite single annual competition, the Six Nations about to start now.

Thinking about it this is a funny thing as on many levels the Six Nations as a pure rugby competition is inferior to the Southern Hemisphere’s version, the Tri Nations. The standard of play is invariably lower, the games are often grittier, attritional affairs punctuated only rarely by periods of attractive running rugby, and it is often played in the most appalling conditions.

Yet, despite all this, it remains our favourite annual rugby competition and we look forward to it hugely. So much so that when midway through the competition there is one weeks break and a well deserved rest for the players before hostilities resume the following weekend, we always feel an irrational sense of frustration that we are being denied yet more rugby…

The Six Nations is of course steeped in history and traditions and it is this that makes up for the lack of quality year in year out. Few Englishman mind losing too much to the All Blacks, yet, lose to the Welsh – well that is an entirely different matter. Equally, in reverse, the Welsh and the Scots will be doing their utmost to defeat the men in white (or grey or purple – these days you never can tell…) as these are the games that in the end matter the most when you take the old rivalries into account.

And so on to our thoughts as to how it will all pan out…


Momentum is a word we have learnt to be very careful of in the course of writing this blog. On numerous occasions we have given into the prevailing wisdom and thought that, just because a side has won its previous two games, they will automatically be favourites in the next. England’s defeat to South Africa was a case in point, as was the Ashes series when Australia won at Perth before being trounced twice in succession at Melbourne and Sydney. We are pleased to say we called the cricket correctly although the South Africa rugby match was one we got horribly wrong.

Looking at the Autumn Internationals it is probably fair to draw the following conclusions:

  • England are probably the most dangerous when on form of the northern hemisphere sides.
  • Scotland are much improved and in a dogfight are in with a more than fair chance.
  • Ireland have gone backwards, have a struggling and ageing pack, although their backs remain dangerous with enough ball.
  • France are anyone’s guess. Quality throughout but possess a tendency to implode at the slightest sign of trouble.
  • Wales are a side without enough central steel to close out games but can still threaten unless they are out muscled.
  • Italy lack sufficient quality to trouble top sides.

Yet despite these reasonable assumptions it would be a rare Six Nations not to throw up a surprise here or there and so upend the expected order. We do think that, even despite the injuries, this could be England’s year – probably not for the Grand Slam but hopefully a table topping finish. Anything below that in our eyes would be a failure.

France, despite their various injuries and interesting selection decisions, will probably have a successful campaign and be tussling with England for the top spot. We do however anticipate a fairly embarrassing result for the French somewhere along the way, possibly at the hands of Ireland.

The Irish are an interesting side and in many ways are the Australia of the north. Weak up front they possess an attacking backline if only they get enough ball. Much will rest as always on the shoulders of the old warriors, Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and David Wallace – players who have much to prove after fairly middling seasons for a variety of reasons. We anticipate a mid table finish again, something that will be a failure for a side with aspirations of at least a semi final place in the World Cup.

Scotland, Wales and Italy will in all likelihood contest the final three spots although it would not be a total surprise if Scotland possibly jumped above even the Irish into third.

Whatever happens, we can’t wait and we look forward to six weeks of rugby weekends. True heaven indeed…





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