Six Nations Round 1 Preview: Can Scotland Make their Mark as Contenders?6 min read
This year’s Six Nations is England’s biggest test yet under Eddie Jones. Players across the board are feeling the effects of a bruising Lions tour last Summer, as well as a domestic competition that has left a trail of lingering injuries in its wake. Can England become the first team to make it three in a row? Or does the inevitable Six Nations carousel keep turning?
I’ve broken down every game of round one to get you ready for what promises to be a wide-open race to the top of European rugby.
Wales vs Scotland (Sat 3rd Feb: 2.15pm BBC One)
The brilliance of the 2012/13 tournament winning Welsh sides seems a fading memory now; but the hallmarks of that team will be on full show at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. The problem for Wales? It’s the men in blue’s turn to enter their prime this time.
Scotland rarely seem like a powerhouse in the making – they relish being the underdog – but close-knit teams are obvious even to outsiders. Five years ago, you could tell Welsh rugby, and the passion they had for one another, when you saw it. I get that feeling now when watching Scotland and I believe it’s finally their turn to join the big boys at the top.
After thrashing Australia last Autumn and giving New Zealand a run for their money, I think this is the year Scotland can make some noise.
Saying that, Cardiff isn’t a forgiving place to try and make a statement, and I don’t think Wales let anyone blow them out the water at home. It will be a battle but look for Finn Russell and co. to sneak away with a win to get their tournament started the right way.
Half time / Full time result, Wales – Scotland
Scotland winning margin 1-5 points
Huw Jones anytime try scorer
France vs Ireland (Sat 3rd Feb: 4.45pm BBC One)
For the first time in a while Ireland enter a major tournament with few lingering injury worries. That’s probably why they are 6-point favourites away from home against France, and clear contenders to knock England off their throne.
However, despite a dominant domestic season across the Irish sea, the team will need to start fast and get their feet under them with a lot of young faces on the squad. They let Scotland get ahead of them in round one last year and paid the price for it. They can’t let that happen again.
France on the other hand, play up to their stereotype as the enigma of the tournament. New head coach Jacques Brunel has precious little time to get a young team ready for next year’s World Cup; however, has teen sensation fly-half Matthieu Jalibert (hailed as the next big thing in European rugby) at his disposal. Can Brunel make France a must watch team again?
I expect fireworks – but probably not an upset – in Paris.
Match winner – Ireland
Last team to score – France
Italy vs England (Sun 4th Feb: 3.00pm ITV1)
England begin their quest to become the first three-in-a-row tournament winners of the modern Six Nations with a bit of a warmup game against Italy. As 21-point (yes… 21-point!) favourites to win in Rome, anything less than a bonus point win won’t cut it for Eddie Jones’ men.
Italy, diving into the rulebook for inspiration, gave England a headache at Twickenham last year but can’t be expected to hold out a new world rugby superpower. At best, they might be able to hold on for 60-minutes, but simply lack the depth of the England squad.
There isn’t much return for backing England, so try scorers are the way to go here and there should be plenty of them.
Jonny May anytime try scorer
Sam Simmonds anytime try scorer
Danny Care anytime try scorer
Match Winner Treble:
Scotland, Ireland, and England to win