The highest average attendance of any tournament in the world kicks off this weekend. Yup the 6 Nations is back. The greatest tournament and also the one that causes the most headache trying to organise a global calendar!
Still it’s one of the most loved tournaments both for fans watching on TV and those that are lucky enough to get to the games. I’ll be providing Live post match reactions straight after the final whistle over on YouTube for all the games.
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I’ll be testing my 6 Nations picks against the TAB in my series DrivingMaul v The Bookie, will I come out on top?
Wales v Italy – Wales by 10
It was interesting listening to the Blood & Mud Rugby podcast today with Rhiannon Garth Jones, she thought that sides would find Italy more of a challenge this year. Still get the wins but need to take the games more seriously. If you look at Simon’s analysis you can see why. They are introducing the fewest inexperienced players. As you’ll see in a tweet I’ve embedded further down the post, they also aren’t an old side so things are looking in the right direction for Italy. Still they will lose all their games.
It’s hard to remember a Welsh sides that didn’t have Gatland at the helm. With that in mind I thought that there would be more change in the Welsh squad. Clearly Pivac likes the same players but with 12 “old” players in the squad he’s going to have to bring more new blood through before the next Rugby World Cup. Maybe we shouldn’t be thinking of that as it’s 4 years away however it is the start of that cycle and minds are already thinking of that.
At the end of the day Wales will get a comfortable home win for Pivac’s first competitive fixture.
Join me straight after the final whistle for post match reaction to Wales v Italy.
Ireland v Scotland – Ireland by 10
I was really looking forward to this game. Then Finn Russell had a few too many drinks and missed training the next day. I’ve not been following this story too close due to family commitments, but at the end of the day Scottish rugby doesn’t have the depth to lose such a quality player. From a picking point of view it made this one really easy from then on. Sure Hastings is a good player but you need someone on the bench too.
Ireland will win this battle but will they be losing the war. They have the most “old” players of all the teams. I really think they need to be bringing through the next generation quicker. Keeping those experienced players though should mean a comfortable victory at home.
Join me straight after the final whistle for post match reaction to Ireland v Scotland.
France v England – France by 5
What a cracker of a game this promises to be. France have an amazingly young squad with only 2 that are 29 or over! I (and many others) haven’t been so excited by a French side in many years. I don’t sign up to the “you don’t know which France will turn up” idea but this is a young side that will try things. Sometimes it will come off and others it won’t, over time though they’ll get better in their judgment.
Judgment is an issue that I’m having with Eddie Jones. Those 8 “old” players include both scrum halves. Also England don’t have a recognised 8 in the squad. Eddie has delivered time and again but he’s lost nearly all his assistant coaches since the Rugby World Cup and some selections I just don’t understand. Against an exciting young French side I think it could all go a bit wrong.
Women’s 6 Nations
The Women’s 6 Nations is also taking place with the fixtures copying the men’s tournament. As you can see from the rankings below it’s going to be a battle between England and France with the others deciding the bottom 4 positions.
I continue to be baffled at the exclusion of Spain in this competition.
|France v England||France by 3|
|Ireland v Scotland||Ireland by 3|
|Wales v Italy||Italy by 7|
England have had the better of France over the last few games but I’m backing home advantage to be enough for revenge. Then it’s a matter of using the World Rugby Rankings as a guide. Ireland have had a really good side but have slipped back recently. Still I think they should beat Scotland at home. Italy in this format are much better than many people realise and I think they could secure 3rd overall quite comfortably.
Record So Far
Well it’s Round 1 so there haven’t been any results yet 🙂
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