Six Things To Watch For During The Six Nations

Shane Horgan

It’s the time of year that gets rugby fans across Europe counting down the days; the kickoff of the Guinness Six Nations is just around the corner! Ireland enter the tournament as both reigning Grand Slam champions and odds-on favourites to top the standings again – no pressure, then!    


Every single match will be shown live on Virgin Media One, starting with France v Wales on Friday night, so you won’t miss a kick, ruck or maul across the tournament. And if you want to know what to watch out for, then read on; we’ve singled out what may become significant talking points as the weeks go by…




While it’s Super Saturday on March 16th that will see the trophies doled out, there’s a prize awaiting Ireland before February is out; a pair of wins to open proceedings would see them leapfrog New Zealand to become the top ranked side on the planet. History awaits, then – and in more ways than one…



Ireland have never secured consecutive Grand Slams – in fact, last year’s clean sweep was only their third overall. You have to go back more than 20 years to find the last example, when France managed it in 1997 and 1998; the question, then, is who’s most likely to rain on the Irish parade?!



Last year’s tournament was a disaster for England, but Eddie Jones has overseen an admirable rebound in recent months. With good news on the injury front – the Vunipola brothers and Manu Tuilagi among notable inclusions – and a certain motivation that comes with being written off in some quarters, they’ll provide a stern test for anyone; not least Ireland, who have the dubious honour of facing them first…



It feels like every year that Scotland are tipped as dark horses - and every year it fails to materialise. That said, it’s hard to ignore the success of Edinburgh and Glasgow this season, as well as some of the international side’s showings over the last 12 months. Murrayfield, then, might be a tricky trip for visiting sides…



Wales enjoyed their most successful autumn campaign ever, setting them up for a right tilt at things this time around. They also have the advantage of facing their two biggest rivals (on paper, at least), England and Ireland, in the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium. And for hymns and arias are to ring out on the final weekend, the schedule is in their favour too…



Ireland’s biggest enemy entering the final furlong might well be the calendar. Crunch ties against France and Wales are separated by a six-day turnaround – and the extra 24 hours of rest that the Welsh will enjoy could be decisive. It’s a big ask – but then that’s the nature of the tournament!



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