With the Rugby World Cup (and the ridiculous money its star players made) a distant memory, it’s time to focus once again on 6 Nations. Things haven’t gone quite so well for early favourites England and Wales, so what happens next?
They’re the also-rans of the 6 Nations, but they are improving with each season. Will they ever reach the level of relative newcomers to the game France? Not unless they significantly improve their domestic league. Avoiding the wooden spoon is the prize for this Italian side.
Scotland the brave. They put up a fight, but more often than not, they fail to live up to their potential. Scottish rugby has been on a downward trajectory for many years now and we can’t see them doing anything more than finishing above Italy.
They’ve huffed and puffed their way through the first two games and let’s be honest, they were well below par against France.
The return of Mako Vunipola in the Scotland match had a similar effect as his return during the World Cup. It gave the team that hard edge they missed against France. Unfortunately, a personal issue has brought the New Zealander back to his homeland and he looks set to miss the Ireland game at the very least.
While the England camp certainly don’t rely on one player, their stuttering form so far will make it nearly impossible to win the championship. A big performance against Ireland is needed to instill any confidence into this side.
The Welsh were the early favorites, but that performance against Ireland has brought them back down to earth with a bang. It’s only one loss though and should they bounce back against France in their next match, it could blow the whole 6 Nations wide open.
Wales need to stop believing their own hype and get back to what they do best and dominate the scrum. Although if reports are to be believed, they feel aggrieved at Tadhg Furlong’s scrum tactics in the Ireland match and fully expect the French to cheat in theirs. A top three finish for the Welsh looks most likely.
The French are looking good so far this championship and we get the feeling that the match against the Welsh will be the make or break of their 6 Nations. Can they beat the Welsh? Absolutely, but the Welsh are also fully capable of humiliating the French.
We just can’t see it happening, and fully expect the fate of the 6 Nations to come down to the final game against Ireland.
So the Irish have England next in what could be the game that sets up the Grand Slam decider against France. They were a little edgy in the Scotland match and could have easily ended up with egg on their face, but a solid performance against the Welsh has them back on track.
They’ll need to follow up on that performance against England and capitalize on the disarray that seems to be permeating the England camp. Get through the test at Twickenham and the Grand Slam looks on.