This year promises to be one of the most competitive Six Nations tournaments ever. The winner of the tournament could well be decided in the opening round as reigning champions and favourites Ireland take on an improved England side in Dublin.
Ireland come into the series in incredible form, having lost only a single game since the start of last season, culminating in a famous win against the mighty All Blacks in Dublin in November. They will be hungry for a second successive Grand Slam victory with one eye already on the World Cup later in the year, where they will expect to get past the quarter finals, the furthest they have ever reached in the tournament.
Eddie Jones will want to prove he’s still the man for job after a run of losses last season including a disappointing fifth place in last year’s Six Nations. His team will come into the match fired up, the memories of their last performance fresh in their minds, and with something to prove before they head to Japan later in the year. For once England look relatively injury free, with most of their big stars and heavy hitters back in the squad for their opening game.
Many have predicted Wales to be the dark horses of the tournament, and Warren Gatland will want to end on a high in his final season as Head Coach. His tenure began in 2008 with a win against England, going on to clinch a Grand Slam victory in his first Six Nations campaign.
Wales will go into the tournament on the back of nine consecutive wins and Gatland believes if his team can keep up this momentum going into their first game they could very well take home the trophy. They will head to the Stade de France for their opening game of the tournament against a France outfit that have been through a tough year, culminating in their first ever loss to Fiji in November and slumping to a disappointing ninth place in the World Rugby rankings.
Italy will also have something to prove having not won a game in the tournament since 2015. They will head to Murrayfield to take on Scotland in their quest to better their wooden spoon performances in recent years.
It’s been 19 years since Scotland began their Six Nations campaign against Italy, in what was their first foray into the tournament.
Since then Scotland and Italy have become fierce rivals of sorts, often both battling it out to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. Since 2000, Scotland have only won their opening match twice, but will hope to buck this trend this year.
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