Friday, March 13, 2015

Ireland, England, France. Believe!

 Jonny Sexton is settling into his new life as Racing Metro fly-half
 Jonny Sexton (picture

After a two week break, the 6 Nations comes roaring back into life with a rip snorting, hum dingering ( and other assorted hyperbole) match as Wales welcome Ireland to the Millennium Stadium! The whole match is an exclamation mark, if our match against England was the biggest thing since sliced bread, well this is bigger. Ireland are the only unbeaten team left in it now, and when you think that between them Wales and Ireland have won 6 of the last ten 6 Nations championships, there’s a reasonable chance that this match will set one of the teams on the way to another championship.

We have Jonny Sexton, and Jamie Heaslip back, while Wales have a full contingent to pick from too. It’s Kiwi coach v Kiwi coach. Warren Gatland has laid his challenge out already. His team was out on Wednesday, and his tactics haven’t changed since Wales started winning more than they lost. It revolves mainly around huge ball carries busting their way up the field. Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt is more coy, his tactics seem to vary from game to game, which makes it much harder  for the opposition to plan for. This is going to be like a game of chess – albeit a game of chess played by large men trying to murder each other! I think Ireland have the edge, even though Wales have home advantage, because Schmidt’s tactics are better than Gatland’s, and because the Irish team is probably the most composed team in the world now under pressure. So a win for Ireland!

England have to try and get back on the horse after losing last weekend – they have to hope Ireland lose, and rack up a big score against Scotland to keep themselves in contention. The Scots meanwhile will still be sick after their loss to Italy, looking for their first win, and really do they ever need much motivation when they are playing England? Hard to see anything else but a convincing England victory though.

Finally, the French travel to Rome, their season pretty well a disaster already.  Philippe St Andre has made 8 changes for this match, continuing his revolving door selection policy. You only have to have an impressive 10 minute spell in a top 14 match and you could play for France! Even with St Andre in charge, you could still France winning with the class of the players selected, but with Italy on a high after beating Scotland, anything could happen!

Six Nations
Saturday, March 14
Wales vs Ireland    14:30
England vs Scotland    17:00
Sunday, March 15
Italy vs France    15:00

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