The Six Nations has begun! England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy and France are all fighting to be Grand Slam champions this year. Each side will use this tournament as preparation for the rugby World Cup later this year. All teams were in action last weekend, with Wales opening the tournament by beating France 24-19. The Welsh looked diminished at half time, as France took advantage of the Welsh’s weak defence (they were down 16-0 at half time). However, a resurgence from the Dragons was displayed in the second half, scoring three tries (two from the winger George North) and scoring each conversion. Wales’ confidence appeared to be an issue in the first half but it was revived in the second half.
On Saturday, Scotland took on Italy in a hard-fought matchup at Murrayfield Stadium. The Scots opened the scoring in the first half with two exceptional tries but only kicking one successful conversion. The Italians seemed to lack drive in the first half, but much like Wales, there appeared to be a resurgence in side, scoring three tries against the Scots. Tries from Palazzani, Padovani and Esposito boosted twenty points against Scotland, but the Highlandmen halted the Italian comeback scoring three more tries in the second half and finishing off their conversions. The final score was 33–20 in favour of Scotland. Scotland appear to have a new spark this year and could be a team to watch.
The final game of the weekend was England taking on Ireland in Dublin. The Irish side are ranked 2nd in the world according to the IRB (International Rugby Board) so the English had a tough challenge on their hands. Before the half, England dominated Ireland 17-10, putting on an impressive defensive performance against the fast-paced Irishmen. After the half, England continued to make use of their heavy forwards and faced paced backline. Impressive performances from Mako and Billy Vunipola enabled England to bulldoze the Irish defense, with Mako Vunipola putting in an impressive 23 tackles on the Irish.
England’s performance against the Irish was a majestic display of pace and skill, with the return of Manu Tuilagi in the lineup. The Irish knew it was going to be a challenge. Tuilagi cut through the defence like a chainsaw, with no Irishmen able to bring him down on their own. The final score was 32–20, instilling a lot of hope into this English side. It was the first time the Irish have been defeated by an English side at home since 2003, with no tries have been scored at the Aviva Stadium by an English side in eight years. So, this was an impressive and dominating win for England.
To conclude, I predict that England have a strong chance of becoming Grand Slam champions this year. The coach Eddie Jones has brought new life into the side and with players such as Manu Tuilagi and Jack Nowell, the backline is more dominant than ever. Scotland will be England’s hardest competitors, as their impressive win over Italy proved they are not here to go home empty handed this year. I predict the French will place in the top three this year. This year’s Six Nations is not to be missed and with the World Cup around the corner, all teams are preparing for victory and will stop at nothing to achieve it.