The Six Nations 2017
The Six Nations kicks off this weekend in style, with two of the big guns facing off. England square off against France in Twickenham (Saturday, February 4th, at 4.50pm).
England & France
They go into the tournament as defending champions and with a record of 13 consecutive victories. They will be the team to beat this year and must start as favourites to retain the trophy and achieve a second consecutive Grand Slam!
England are dealing with a lot of injuries which will affect their chances. France can’t be underestimated but have been nowhere near their best form for a number of years now. England should win this, all things been equal.
Ireland & Scotland
Ireland must be joint favourites, as they haven’t had the same amount of injuries. Though Jonny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony have been ruled out of the game against Scotland.
Joe Schmidt has called Ian Keatley into the squad, as cover for Sexton. The loss of Sexton is a big blow to Ireland’s chances in the tournament. But Ireland did very well in South Africa last summer without Sexton. Sexton should have been rested anyway, for the upcoming test against France.
Scotland look to be at their strongest point since the 6 Nations began (2000) and playing at home will make them extra dangerous. Ireland should still win this one though.
Ireland need to build on their historic win against New Zealand, to really cement themselves as a world-class team.
Player by player, Ireland has one of the best teams in the tournament.
Wales & Italy
Wales are without their coach Warren Gatland, who’s concentrating on the Lions. Rob Howley has stepped in as coach. The last time this happened, 2013, Wales managed to win the tournament, only losing to Ireland that time around. Wales also have a new captain, Alun Wyn-Jones, one of the their best players.
Italy have a new coach in Conor O’Shea and shocked everyone last year by beating South Africa, their first win against the Springboks. O’Shea has a lot of experience with 6 Nations rugby, as a former Irish international, and coach of London Irish and Harlequins.
As a pundit for RTE for many years, O’Shea will have an expert knowledge of the other teams strengths and weaknesses. He also has an experienced captain in Sergio Parisse. Italy are still the weakest side in the tournament though. Wales should win this encounter.
New points scoring system for 2017
This year’s tournament will also be the first 6 Nations to feature bonus points, with an extra point for scoring 4 tries, and a losing bonus point for been within 7 points of the winner. It is hoped that the bonus points system will bring an extra dimension to the game.
Italy will probably be most affected by this system. While they can manage to stay within 7 points of any team, they have never scored 4 tries in the 6 Nations. This new system may see Italy move further down the ladder.
It will be a great opening weekend. Players in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales will also be wanting to impress with the prospect of a Lions tour on offer at the end of the season.
Playnbrag – Play with Friends on the six nations for one round or the entire tournament. Pick from 1 to 3 teams & get your friends to join & see who knows best!