Everything You Need To Know Before The Guinness Six Nations 2020
The New Year buzz has settled down, the daffodils are sprouting, and – whisper it – there’s a little bit of a stretch in the evenings. Spring has sprung, and that means only one thing for sports fans; the start of the Guinness Six Nations!
Rugby’s greatest tournament gets underway on Saturday, with every game live on Virgin Media One, Virgin TV 103 – and it’s shaping up to be one of the most intriguing renewals in years. From new regimes to old rivalries, the stage is set for an explosive competition; it’s time to get up to speed with everything you need to know before the action kicks off…
WHAT ARE IRELAND’S SIX NATIONS FIXTURES?
Let’s get the housekeeping out of the way: Ireland kick off their campaign at Avivas Stadium against Scotland this Saturday, February 1st. The following Saturday, they welcome Wales to Dublin, before packing their bags for the time-honoured crunch tie against England in Twickenham on Sunday February 23rd. Italy are the visitors on March 7th, while the curtain will come down following their final match, against France in Paris on Super Saturday, March 14th.
WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE LAST TOURNAMENT?
Erm… everything! The end of one four-year cycle and the start of another, wholesale changes abound; a full four teams go into the tournament with newly installed head coaches, while familiar faces like Rory Best, Guilhem Guirado and Greig Laidlaw have said goodbye to international rugby. The narrative has shifted substantially, too; just think back to this time last year, when Ireland were knocking on the door of the world #1 ranking on the back of beating the All Blacks, while England licked their wounds after their worst season in nearly a decade. Yes, it’s all change…
WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES TO WIN THE SIX NATIONS?
Following their World Cup final appearance, England are widely regarded as the top team in northern hemisphere rugby; mind, last year’s tournament was a fine reminder of how the form book can fly out the window! Wales are defending Grand Slam champions, and will hope to excel under new boss Wayne Pivac, while a host of young stars could get the French back on the straight and narrow. Oh, and we hope our lads are in the final shake-up too! So…yeah, it’s looking pretty open right now!
WHO ARE THE PLAYERS TO WATCH?
Needless to say, the old reliables will once again be expected to be at the forefront; from Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell to Alun-Wyn Jones and Stuart Hogg, the giants of the game will be mentioned early and often. There’s new faces to keep an eye on too, though; the aforementioned French up-and-comers include flanker Cameron Woki and standoff Matthieu Jalibert, while Italy’s electric Matteo Minozzi is back after a horrific injury. England’s kamikaze kids of Sam Underhill and Tom Curry will likely be wreaking havoc once more, while Wales have a firecracker in young Louis Rees-Zammit. There’s stars everywhere you look…
HOW WILL IRELAND FARE?
Well, this is the million dollar question! Irish rugby will enter a new chapter under the stewardship of Andy Farrell – though having served his apprenticeship under Joe Schmidt, it remains to be seen how much change he’ll bring. The same is true of the leadership; while Johnny Sexton now wears the captain’s armband, it’s not like he wasn’t a senior player before! The prospect of John Cooney, Caelan Doris and more getting a look-in hasis certainly exciting though, as is the notion of bouncing back from a disappointing 2019 in style. In fact, there’s little about the tournament that isn’t worth shouting about!
WHERE CAN I WATCH THE SIX NATIONS?
Every game of the Guinness Six Nations is live on Virgin Media One; tune into Virgin TV 103 and we guarantee you won’t miss a kick!
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