Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Get your 6 Nations groove on, baby!

To get things going on the 6 Nations trail, let’s look at the form ahead of the opening weekend, starting with Ireland. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster the last 12 months – a so so 6 Nations, a tour to New Zealand that nearly produced a great result, but also a through thrashing, and then a decent enough November series, finishing with a good victory over Argentina. We have our injuries - O’Connell, Ferris Bowe, we’re not a 100% sure of the coach (there is a Kidney clock counting down his contract somewhere online) and some of our troops are getting long in the tooth. Then the moneybags French have stolen our Sexton! We’ve also got some good young talent (Zebo and Gilroy) and the perfect opportunity to get things firmly back on track this 6N.

Wales are our opposition – Grand Slam champs last year, but wins have been few are far between since then, including a pretty humiliating defeat to Samoa. Warren Gatland has hobbled back into action, but where to next for Wales, apart from a massive talent drain to France, is a mystery to me. They have all the talent, but making it work as a unit – that’s much harder. What about Saturday? After having victory so cruelly snatched from us last year in the last minute, is it our turn to be cruel this year? We’ll be aching for revenge, and if Samoa can do it, we can do it too, so I’m going with a win to get us up and running.

Scotland enter this competiton with pretty modest expectations – after cleaning up in their summer tour , including victory over Australia, they went back to losing ways in the November tests, and both their Heineken Cup teams played 12 matches without a win between them. I’d expect the normal wooden spoon tussle with Italy.

England are a bit of a dark horse, underperforming on the whole, except for one dramatic and deserved win over the All Blacks, the end of which we’re not likely to hear of soon. This could be their year- there is plenty to admire in the team – Fodden, Robshaw, and a few cocky bruisers not to admire- Ashton, Hartley, they are the nearly men at the moment, and I don’t think this is quite their year yet, as their young players mature, but they should beat Scotland.

France are battling it out with England in the under achiever stakes, you feel like you could get Toulouse and Clermont, and alone out of those teams get a team which could beat anybody, anytime.  The French players seem to be keeping their powder dry for their club game at the moment, but having said all that, I’m backing the unfathomable French to use Phillipe Saint Andres’ experience to guide them home this year, to the trophy if not the slam.

Italy wlll bring up the rear again, a few close calls for visiting teams, and a mighty battle with Scotland is likely to sum up their season, and France will be too much for them in the opening game.

Sat - 2nd Feb 13
13:30  RBS Six Nations  Wales  vs Ireland    
 16:00  RBS Six Nations  England  vs Scotland    
Sun - 3rd Feb 13
15:00  RBS Six Nations  Italy  vs France    
Sat - 9th Feb 13
 14:30  RBS Six Nations  Scotland  vs Italy    
 17:00  RBS Six Nations  France  vs Wales    
Sun - 10th Feb 13
 15:00  RBS Six Nations  Ireland  vs England    
Sat - 23rd Feb 13
 14:30  RBS Six Nations  Italy  vs Wales    
 17:00  RBS Six Nations  England  vs France    
Sun - 24th Feb 13
 14:00  RBS Six Nations  Scotland  vs Ireland    
Sat - 9th Mar 13
 14:30  RBS Six Nations  Scotland  vs Wales    
 17:00  RBS Six Nations  Ireland  vs France    
Sun - 10th Mar 13
 15:00  RBS Six Nations  England  vs Italy    
Sat - 16th Mar 13
 14:30  RBS Six Nations  Italy  vs Ireland    
 17:00  RBS Six Nations  Wales  vs England    
 20:00  RBS Six Nations  France  vs Scotland 

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