Last year I wrote about the Six Nations and was proved massively wrong! So why change the habit..... Here is my predictions.
1. England will win the championship but it may come down to the wire. Playing Ireland at Twickenham may halt the Grand Slam. Leinster (sorry Ireland) are well drilled and will attack from all over the Twickenham turf. The Scots will be difficult at Murrayfield. With a certain Mr Hogg back the Scots will look to play a territory game and use the pace from a set piece. Not dissimilar from a Glasgow Warriors team. I think the occasion may get the better of them and discipline will keep the penalty count high.
2. Ireland. Ireland have the strongest teams in the Pro 14. Munster and Leinster. The Leinster academy is churning out more and more big game players and although I was initially sceptical about Stuart Lancaster’s appointment have become the form team in Europe. 6 from 6 in the European Competition. With leadership on the pitch from Rory Best, Conor Murray, Sexton and Henderson they have the ability to put lots of pressure on all the teams in the competition. Watch out for the ‘choke tackle’ favoured by the Irish.
3. Third place is difficult. Scotland or France. The French Top 14 is not as exciting as years gone by, but they do have four sides through to the knock out rounds of the Champions Cup. Scotland has only two professors sides but have an uncanny knack of the big upset. They recently undid the Australian side but that’s one game. The French are mired in bad international coaching and recent police raids won’t help the French camp. All supporters would welcome a return to the French flair rugby. The big hitting Chabal may have retired but they need to channel their inner Seabass!
4. Wales. Wales are hit with injuries and more interestingly at 10. When I suggested Henson I was slapped down. Alright it was a tongue in cheek suggestion but for me Anscombe, or Patchel should get the nod. The roof closed at the Millennium Stadium will be a huge atmosphere and a lot of teams may suffer from the noise alone.
5. Italy will again prop up the bottom of the pack. Even with their ingenious play which caught out seasoned professionals last year. https://youtu.be/TzzezFZMGqY #notaruck Conor O Shea will no doubt have something up his sleeves.
I vehemently believe in a league system where teams like Georgia and Romania get a look in. Sadly I think that all the sides unions have to agree and acknowledge the relegation possibility. We have seen recently English and Welsh packs training together, reportedly Eddie Jones is taking England to train with the huge Georgian pack.
A ticket was recently touted for the Calcutta Cup for £2200. Another example of why I believe people are priced out. The Scottish union will get the face value for that ticket. I would love all the unions to stop these legal sites reselling for huge profits. Let’s get back to Rugby should be attainable for all.
Whatever happens let’s hope for no injuries and great rugby!