An Interview With Alan Quinlan Talking Guinness Six Nations 2020

Alan Quinlan

The kickoff of the Guinness Six Nations is almost here – and, as is the case every spring, we’ve come down with a right case of rugby fever! Every game in the tournament will air live on Virgin Media One, Virgin TV 103 – so, starting from tomorrow at 1pm, you know what you’ll be doing for your weekends between now and Paddy’s Day!


One man keeping a particularly close eye on proceedings is Alan Quinlan; he’s not just a former Irish international, but will also be in the commentary box throughout the tournament! We caught up with him for an interview that features in the forthcoming issue of PLAY Magazine, but we simply couldn’t wait to share it with you; so, ahead of the first weekend of the competition, here it is!


A new year, new coach, and new captain – the perfect opportunity for a fresh start?


Maybe it is; some new ideas from the staff, and something different from the players, might be just what we need. You have to evolve as a team; there’s probably going to be some negative memories from the past 12 months but sport moves on quickly, and you have to wipe the slate clean. Andy Farrell certainly won’t entertain any whinging about what’s already been and gone – his job now is creating some positivity and energy within the squad.


What do you expect to see from the new boss?


I think he’ll rely a lot on what he’s learned already; when you’ve had some really good years, you don’t just dwell on the bad one. He’ll be conscious of it, of course, but it just adds to his knowledge about how this team works; the strengths and weaknesses of the side. We’ve heard a lot about the attack – changing up our approach and developing a more expansive style – so it will be interesting to see how he and Mike Catt deal with that. I think the Farrell’s job now is getting a bit of a feelgood factor back in the squad – and, of course, winning games.


Will new faces play a part in that?


Introducing new players is part of the natural cycle, for sure. Rory Best has moved on, and some senior players haven’t been at their best; I wouldn’t be one for casting people aside for one bad run, but they’ll certainly be under pressure. Some of the younger players have a little less baggage coming in, which can be a good thing; Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher are two guys like that. It’s also not just about the young guns; Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway have been superb when given opportunities, so it might be a matter of guys who’ve been knocking on the door for a while. You don’t need wholesale changes; three or four new names can change the dynamic completely.


Wales, France and Italy are also in transition; is it a similar story there?


The Welsh coach, Wayne Pivac, had his Scarlets teams playing a high-tempo game with loads of width, so they’ll be exciting to watch. Being defending champions, they’ll have a little bit of pressure, but Wales always seem to produce at international level. It’s a lot of the unknown with France – as it has been for some time. Fabien Galthie named a squad with 19 uncapped players; all incredibly talented, but it’s going to come down to what type of structure they have, and Shaun Edwards could have a huge impact in that. And Italy, with Franco Smith coming in? It’s been a while since they won a Six Nations game, but you’d love to see it happen again – or at least for them to run some teams close.


As for England, how does their World Cup adventure affect things?


It’s going to linger for a bit. I know from my own career that when you get to a final – and are expected to win – then losing can be all the more disappointing. They’re always going to be a massive scalp, and it’ll take something special to beat them. Eddie Jones will have a world-class side at his disposal, who might have won the World Cup had they performed on the day.


One thing stays the same though, right – it’s all about winning?


Yes! It’s a historic tournament in itself, and a huge thing to win it. For me, nothing that’s happened in the interim takes away from the Grand Slam in 2018; that’s a massive achievement, something we’ve only managed three times in our history. So no, forget the World Cup, or the next four year cycle; Ireland have got to try to win the Six Nations.


Keep an eye out for the new issue of PLAY Magazine, arriving next week, which is packed with awesome interviews just like this one! And if you want to know how Virgin Media Sport can satisfy the cravings of every sports fan, just click here