Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The 2016 6 Nations - I'm backing Ireland for 3rd!


It’s that time of year again…spring is in the air (in theory), time to gird your loins and get ready to support Ireland in the 6 Nations!

It’s likely to be a tricky tournament for Ireland. On the face of it, with back to back titles, we are on the verge of a triple. But… a couple of things are not in our favour this year. We have to travel to the Big Two (France and England), and we have a rake of retirements and injuries to contend with – Paul O’Connell has put himself out to pasture for internationals, and we won’t have Ross, Healy, Henderson, Bowe or Fitzgerald to call on. On the plus side, we still have one of the best coaches in the world, and a couple of potential debutants in CJ Stander and Stuart McCloskey who could make a big impact. We could win it, but I’d say 3rd is more likely.

England have a new coach, Australian Eddie Jones, who plans to turn England into ‘the most dominant team in the world’. He’s made notorious bad boy Dylan Hartley his captain, and encouraged him to play like Tarzan. It all sounds bizarre, but Eddie Jones is a master at manipulating the media, and he’s very shrewd. This tournament may be too soon for England, but I’ve no doubt they are going to be a force very soon. I’d say they’ll finish second

France also have a new coach, Guy Noves, who had a stellar record with Toulouse. Eternally the joker in the pack, France could win it or implode and come last. I think they’ll finish 4th

Before Italy joined the tournament, there were two matches per weekend, and one team got a rest. Now I’m not saying that’s the main reason Italy was brought in, to have three matches a weekend – actually, I am saying that. A wooden spoon is looking likely again – although it appears that Connor O’Shea is hovering in the wings for next year, so things may start to change eventually.

Scotland had a woeful 6 Nations last year, then a good World Cup, so they could have a good year this year. However the secret is out that they’re not rubbish any more, and without that element of surprise, the wins will be hard to find. 5th probably.

Finally, my pick for this year, Wales. They had a pretty decent World Cup despite their terrible luck with injuries, they have a settled team, settled coach, and flyhalf Dan Biggar is near enough to the best in the world right now. We’ll see!

This weekend, I’m going for France in the first match, with a bit of the old French swagger back.

Scotland really fancy their chances against England, but I think the auld enemy will get this one.

Then it’s our turn to entertain Wales, and while I think Wales will win the the whole thing, they won’t start here!

Saturday, February 6               
France v    Italy     2:25 PM    Stade de France, Paris
Scotland v    England     4:50 PM    Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Sunday, February 7               
Ireland v    Wales     3:00 PM    Lansdowne Road, Dublin

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