After a short break, Six Nations rugby returns. With the 2021 cup set to have no spectators for the foreseeable future, who will have the edge as these six titans go head-to-head, to find out who is the dominant force in North Hemisphere rugby.
The case for England:11/1
Current champions England are the bookies favourite to win the six nations. Following on from their bitter disappointment in the 2019 RWC final, England have looked every bit as menacing and dominating as they had when they faced New Zealand in that now-famous semi-final. Despite the slight blip against a resurgent France in the opener of last year’s tournament, England is the team to beat next month and will take some stopping.
That being said, the 2020 winners are potentially the worst hit by Covid. Head coach Jones missed the start of England’s training camp, along with two other coaches because of restrictions, whilst also being limited to a 28-man squad to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.
The Case for Ireland:4/1
Despite consistently being there or thereabouts for almost 6 years now, Ireland have repeatedly failed to live up to the hype bestowed upon them by the media, after dominating New Zealand in the USA in 2018. Johnny Sexton has not been firing in recent years as his age continues to catch up with him and head coach Andy Farrell may decide to include some new blood in the Ireland team and see if they can finish higher than third for this season.
The case for Italy:500/1
After Italy have finished in last place for 16 of the last 20 years of the Six Nations, it is very hard to imagine Italy will get anything from this 2021 tournament, especially without their charismatic talisman Sergio Parrise. I’m sorry Italy, I still believe in you though! Keep going.
The Case for Scotland:16/1
A potential dark horse for the upcoming tournament, Scotland have been showing regular signs of improvement under head coach Gregor Townsend, with Finn Russell back into the mix, and Stuart Hogg back in the mix Scotland have a very good strong pack, and a creative backline full of flair.
In other news, Bath centre Cameron Redpath has also committed his future to the Scottish despite having played for England in the U20 age group. The youngster has been impressive for Bath this season, could he be the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for Scotland? Could they finally lift the cup? Time will tell.
The Case for Wales:10/1
Wales have inexplicably hit the self-destruct button, finishing only above Italy last year. Wales are struggling for form, as they pull weird decisions out of a hat, such as playing George North at outside centre…why? Many questions still remain about Wales, but you can never disregard them, as they are a proud rugby nation. Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has said his side has what it takes to win the Six Nations, despite losing 4 out of the 5 games last year.
The Case for France: 5/2
Those pesky Frenchmen who beat England in last year’s competition are back and looking to make it 2/2 in the Six Nations. Many people expected France to lift the trophy last year but were thwarted by England who after being beaten by France, seemingly woke up and started playing good rugby. In the most recent Autumn Cup, a third-string France almost beat England, showing the strength in depth in the French squad.
It is looking as though our channel pals are going to be England’s biggest rival until the next Rugby World Cup. With world-class players such as Autonie Dupont and Virimi Vakatawa,
France are looking strong, they’re looking youthful, they’re looking scary. Thank god we have the English Channel.
By George Cowell