January…..sick and tired of you hanging on me!
Post Christmas and New Year blues, cold,wet and foggy weather, what on earth is there to look forward to? Well, here comes the Six Nations in February with the fascinating prospect of some potentially unexpected results!
England are the current favourites at 10/11 with Ireland at 5/2,Wales at 9/1, France surprisingly 14/1 and the outsiders(as per usual) Italy at 28/1.
The first games are to be played on Saturday 4th February with Scotland and Ireland meeting in Murrayfield. This is a real poser as Ireland, fresh back from beating The All Blacks in the States and then edging Australia in Dublin by three points, are playing the dark blue horses of Scotland who have been quietly getting their form back and will be confident after Glasgow’s dynamic performances in the European Champions Cup particularly after annihilating a Leicester team last week. A physical game which will potentially go down to how the two 10’s play in guiding their packs as well as always….who kicks their goals. Players to watch? Finn Russell (10) of Scotland and CJ Stander(6/8) of Ireland.
The second game later in the afternoon is England v France and typically this would be a banker for England but they need to start faster and harder than they did against Australia in the Autumn as the one thing the French thrive on is confidence and if you give them anything they will make hay.They are not the side of old and have lost their inherent identity of an attacking running side but they have more Rosbeef than almost anyone even in the backs.
England actually have not played yet to their potential and have a number of players from Aviva Premiership teams(Northampton/Bath/Leicester) who have not been performing to their normal level so confidence could be at issue here, although the likes of Dan Cole, Jonathan Joseph, George Ford and Tom Wood are all class acts in their positions.
Difficult to see England being beaten, in fact it’s probably more by how many they will win by, but the question will more about the performance than the result. Players to watch? Battle of the No.8’s Nathan Hughes of England and Louis Picamoles of France.
The final game is played on the Sunday featuring Italy v Wales where you will find the Italians typically sprinting out of the blocks for the first 30 minutes but probably forgetting that they have to do it for 80 minutes! Individually Wales have some excellent players but can Coach Robert Howley inject the psychological edge they will need, not just for this game, but for the the whole Championship? He is under pressure in Wales where expectations are always high. Alun Wynn Jones will lead by example but will they be allowed to show their running flair by an Italian team now properly coached by former Harlequins Director of Rugby Connor O’Shea. Players to watch? Sam Warburton, now relieved of the captaincy on the Welsh side and the peerless Sergio Parisse, captain of Italy and No.8, but …….look out for
Exeter Chief’s Michele Campagnaro who has been looking very sharp in recent games.
We started a 6 Nations competition in 2012 in the village and have expanded it now to include all games,originally just England, and there are currently 11 participants. £5 to enter and half the winnings go to the Somerset & Devon Air Ambulance with the balance to the winner.
If you are interested then call Gerry Flanagan on 01643 851762 or Stephen Hunt on 01643 851804, before Friday 3rd February.