Six Nations 2014
Saturday sees the start of the Six Nations 2014 and for the first time in a while it looks wide open.
Wales will be looking for a third championship on the bounce here and couldn’t have had an easier starting match at home v struggling Italy. They have traditionally struggled in the Autumn Internationals but peaked for the Six Nations. They have some very talented players but after the Lions series there are still a lot of players either out injured or still not in the form they were in 6 months ago. I can’t see anything but home wins v the Scots and Italians and it all depends on which French side turn up in Cardiff but the depth just isn’t there in the back ups and they are going to have to all hit form if they are to win in London or Dublin to take a 3rd title.
prediction 6pts – 3rd
France must be one of the most frustrating sides to watch, brilliant on their day and some they struggle to put 2 passes together while conceding an avalanche of penalties. I suspect there were high hopes for France when St Andre took over but it looks increasingly like the team just don’t know where they stand with players played out of position and the French fascination that a scrum half can play at 10. Has the money in France now diluted their talent pool with so many key positions being filled by the foreign imports? They have opted for an inexpereinced squad and only after 80 minutes will we know if they are going to challenge.
prediction 6pts -4th
England with their first squad look to be eyeing up the World cup in 2015 with a very exciting back line selected, however we have seen this before and how they are then told to play to a set game plan. If freedom is given to the new additions to the squad we could see some exciting rugby from England but with this will come defensive frailties. Will Lancaster put up with this and revert to safety or will he stand by his selections? The pack looks solid enough and the bench looks to have impact players in most positions. If they gel quick enough they could go close here, however I can see them losing an away match somewhere.
8pts – runners up
Ireland are flying at the moment in the Heineken cup with Leinster and Ulster looking very strong as usual and Munster now coming back to being a force to be reckoned with after rebuilding. Last years campaign in the Six nations will be a distant memory after the way they played in the Autumn internationals and they look a strong prospect here with strength in depth in most positions. Sexton looked back to his best in the recent round of the top 14 and despite the loss of O Brien, they have a whole host of players returning to form and from injury.
prediction 8 points – winners
Scotland have tough trips to Cardiff and Dublin and they will be targeting both home matches against inexpereinced squads in France and England to get a win on the board, however unless the conditions are so poor that it turns into a real battle I can’t see them getting a win, so it will be their trip to Italy to avoid bottom spot. They have some good young talent but making the step up to the international stage has been difficult for them to overcome. They should beat Itlay and could possibly stun Engladn or France on their day.
prediction 4pts – 5th place
Italy are a much changed squad as well and their period of transition continues. An inexpereinced backline is selected for the opener in Cardiff and it could be ripped to shreds by an attacking Wales. Their strength again lies in the pack and the aging stars are going to have to perform out of their skins to get a win in this years championship. They have a very tough opening two fixtures in Cardiff and Paris while also visiting Dublin and Scotland at home is their only realistic chance of getting a result.
prediction 0 points – 6th place
Ireland to win the six nations but there will be no grand slam.
Ireland six nations winner at 11/2
No grand slam is only 4/6 and although I can’t see a grand slam there is too much unknown about some of the sides and how they will perform.
England for the triple crown is 9/4 and would only have to win in Scotland if they were to win at home v Ireland and Wales but again the back line is an unknown quantity, although Ireland are 9/2 and would only have to win at Twickenham with 2 home games.
Saturday 1st February 2014
Sunday 2nd February 2014
Saturday 8th February 2014
Sunday 9th February 2014
Friday 21st February 2014
Saturday 22nd February 2014
Saturday 8th March 2014
Sunday 9th March 2014
Saturday 15th March 2014