So the 6 Nations is back with us on Saturday. Scotland host Ireland and BT Murrayfield (it’ll always just be plain Murrayfield to me) to kick off the greatest rugby competition and the 5 of the next 7 weekends will have the home nations plus France and Italy battling it out on the rugby pitch.
I am always very poor at tipping, but I can honestly say that this 6Nations is probably the most open for quite a while. While England should be, and are bookies favourites, I don’t expect a Grand Slam, so Eddie Jones men should suffer their first defeat under his management. They have their two most difficult opponents’ away from home, having to travel to both Cardiff and Dublin. I can see them slipping up against at least one of them. Generally, I think that most teams can beat each other on any given day, with the possible exception of Scotland at Twickenham and Italy away from Rome. Having said that Italy visit Edinburgh, which is the only venue that they have been victorious. The autumn internationals have also helped set up the championship well. Italy and Ireland with their first victories over SA and New Zealand respectively and Scotland beating Argentina and pushing Australia to the wire.
At the top end I think the title will be between Ireland and England, and the rest could potentially come in any order, with the most likely Italy finishing bottom, though Connor O’Shea’s men may have a different idea. England have the strength in depth, while Ireland are building a head of steam and have the experience throughout their squad. Wales have been very up and down, and their performance will depend if Rob Howley can get them on song again. France are France! They could be team that pushed the World Champion all the way in November or the team that were put to the sword by the same time a year earlier. Scotland, and I may be letting y heart rule my head are moving in the correct direction. Vern Cotter has put together a team and system that will allow them to be highly competitive in all matches. Personally, I wish Scotland had kept him through to the Japan World Cup. The Scotland backs are the best I have seen since they won the last 5 Nations in 1999. With a pack that will potentially gain parity, there is a chance to unleash them more often that has been seen in recent times.
So with the new bonus point system coming into place, my prediction is that it will be won courtesy of bonus points, and it could be all to play for on Super Saturday 18th March.
- England 4 wins
- Ireland 4 wins
- Scotland 3 wins
- France 3 wins
- Wales 1 win
- Italy 0 wins
However, I think that the first weekend could be pivotal. Can Scotland beat Ireland? If they do and France lose in Twickenham, it sets up a great game in Paris the following Sunday. Can Italy start the championship with a win over Wales and gain strength from that? We will find out come Sunday evening.