With just a month till the 2018 Six Nations, hype is building up fast as fans all around Europe prepare for the most coveted and prestigious Rugby tournament in the world. This year will be the 19th series of the tournament and will be contested by defending champions England who are joined by France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.
Last year’s autumn internationals demonstrated that the 2018 Six Nations could be something special. The form of Scotland and Ireland means England can expect some serious competition for potentially their third straight tournament crowning.
What can you expect?
England will know that anything other than the no.1 spot will be a disappointment. Having missed out on completing the Grand Slam in last year’s tournament in the final game, expectations will be at an all time high. Their Six Nations schedule favors them with trips to France, Scotland and Italy whilst Wales and Ireland will meet them at Twickenham. Can they capitalize and claim the world No1 spot?
Ireland have not totally found their rhythm since their consecutive title triumphs back in 14-15. However, after destroying England’s grand slam hopes last year, they will be well aware of their ability to produce a stellar result. If they can remain consistent over the six weeks, they have the talent and the drive to be challenging for the top honours.
The Scots will be keen to push on from their impressive Autumn International period which saw them first take ever-dangerous All Blacks right to the wire before running Australia ragged in a 53-24 romp. The 2017 Six Nations was much of the same, with hard-fought victories over Ireland and Wales but a painful thrashing from England. Can they go from hopefuls to contenders this year?
Wales’ Autumn International campaign showed glimpses of a team that has plenty of ambition and ability. Despite narrow defeats to Australia and New Zealand, the 24-22 victory over South Africa will have lifted Welsh heads. They need to turn positives into results come February.
The French team are still getting used to their new coach Jacques Brunel. Oversees help has been drafted in but, as is often the case with expensive imports, it can take significant times for the holes to be plugged and for any major improvements to take effect. Is the 2018 Six Nations possibly too close for any desired changes to take effect?
Despite the Italians leading both Wales and England at half time in last year’s Six Nations, they somehow ended up without a single point on the board. They may have earned a decent win against Fiji but loses against Argentina and South Africa would have been hard to swallow. Unfortunately, their limitations may soon be exposed again.
Wales v Scotland | Principality Stadium, Cardiff | Saturday 3rd February | 2:15pm
France v Ireland | Stade de France, Paris | Saturday 3rd February | 4:45pm
Italy v England | Stadio Olimpico, Rome | Sunday 4th February | 3:00pm
Ireland v Italy | Aviva Stadium, Dublin | Saturday 10th February | 2:15pm
England v Wales | Twickenham, London | Saturday 10th February | 4:45pm
Scotland v France | Murrayfield, Edinburgh | Sunday 11th February | 3:00pm
France v Italy | Orange Velodrome, Marseille | Friday 23rd February | 8:00pm
Ireland v Wales | Aviva Stadium, Dublin | Saturday 24th February | 2:15pm
Scotland v England | Murrayfield, Edinburgh | Saturday 24th February | 4:45pm
Ireland v Scotland | Aviva Stadium, Dublin | Saturday 10th March | 2:15pm
France v England | Stade de France, Paris | Saturday 10th March | 4:45pm
Wales v Italy | Principality Stadium, Cardiff | Sunday 11th March | 3:00pm
Italy v Scotland | Stadio Olimpico, Rome | Saturday 17th March | 12.30pm
England v Ireland | Twickenham, London | Saturday 17th March | 2.45pm
Wales v France | Principality Stadium, Cardiff | Saturday 17th March | 5:00pm