The Northern Hemisphere’s biggest rugby tournament kicks off this weekend. The RBS 6 Nations starts tomorrow lunchtime with the Scots hosting underdogs, Italy, in front of a sold out crowd.
Current Grand Slam champions, England, are odds on favourites to lift the trophy for a second time in as many years under the stewardship of unbeaten coach Eddie Jones.
Speaking after announcing his 34 man squad Eddie Jones stressed that places are up for grabs: “No one owns a position in the team, it’s something that you can borrow, something that you have got to look after and something that you’ve got to cherish.
“If you don’t focus 100 percent you get caught short.”
It won’t all be plain sailing for the English however – Ireland, under the stewardship of Joe Schmidt, are expected to perform well at this years tournament with talented scrum-half Conor Murray leading the charge for the boys in green.
Speaking of the bitter rivalries that rumble on during the 6 Nations, Jones said: “There’s a fair bit of hatred towards England isn’t there.
“You feel that, but I don’t see that as a negative I see that as a very positive part of the tournament. It’s part of the allure of this tournament.”
Whilst not troubling for the title Scotland look in good shape before their opener tomorrow after a fruitful set of Autumn internationals against Georgia, Argentina and southern hemisphere giants Australia.
This years tournament shall be like no other as new rules have been implemented this year which will greatly affect the type of rugby that will be played.
In particular, the new high tackle rule which will result in greater punishments for players who tackle about the waist height which, in effect, will make players much harder to stop, leading to some more exciting, attacking rugby whilst also protecting players from serious injury.
As well as the high tackle rule bonus points are on offer for teams, with the aim of getting teams to attack more.
Teams in the lead will be encouraged to attack more and score more tries whilst teams who are losing will have an incentive not to give up.
Wales will be under scrutiny this year after announcing the wonderfully talented Alun Wyn Jones as captain but will need to offer more variety to their play in order to contend with the big two.
For England fans, the Grand Slam decider could occur on March 18 when they face off against the Irish in Dublin in a potentially mouth-watering clash.