It’s that time of year again.
The time of year that we all start squabbling over the Six Nations trophy like we’re a group of kids bickering over a toy garage.
And what an exciting tournament this is set up to be! With the shouts and cries of the World Cup still ringing in our ears, we push on through the madness into a bright new season, filled with fresh talent and fresh blood.
The start of the Six Nations always gets the international rugby blood pumping. An undeniably exciting tournament, it’s almost always an open competition.
And, delightfully, it’s getting more open. Scotland, a team who have spend many years lagging behind, proved in the RWC last year that they’re on their way up. After solid wins over Japan and USA, Scotland showed that they’re no longer relying on their kicking by beating a hefty Samoan side.
Scotland have long been a favourite side of mine (I can’t help but root for the underdog) and I’ll definitely be rooting for them in their clash against England this opening weekend. What can I say? Old rivalries die hard.
England themselves are the victims are a lot of scrutiny. With the controversial appointment of Dylan Hartley as captain and Eddie Jones at the new coach, England are under pressure to perform. A very disappointing World Cup could have been the ashes that a new, fiery England rise out of.
France leveled Wales in terms of progress in the RWC so it seems pretty likely they’ll be performing well. However, France are famously temperamental and Italy have been known to cause an upset for them. To write off Italy would be foolish, especially with supurb seasoned players like Castrogiovanni and Parisse.
And so we come to Ireland v Wales. For Wales, the men in green are always a sign for caution. The clash is always close and I doubt this year it will be any different. Wales are looking strong and confident, despite the curly-haired, baby-faced shape hole in their team. Wales’ RWC campaign wasn’t a complete triumph, but neither was it a cause for shame. After an incredible injury struggle, Wales performed with bravery and heart – something we Welsh cherish even more than a victory.
For me, Ireland are the favourites going in. In the RWC, they pushed ahead further than any other Northern Hemisphere side which surely sets them ahead of everyone else. As much as I would love to say that I’m sure Wales will beat them, I can’t. Ireland are a formidable force that is impossible ignore.
But I am sure that Wales will rise to the challenge. In past few years, Wales seem to perform better when faced with a side that is equal or greater than them. I think it stems from the idea that Wales are far more comfortable being the underdogs with nothing to lose than being the favourites on the edge of falling from grace.
So whatever your team, I hope you have an absolutely swell opening weekend! Enjoy the ecstatic highs and the crushing disappointments that come with the Six Nations.
See you on the other side!