Friday, 31 January 2014

My Six Nations post *warning SPORT related

Ha! Reading the predictions for the Six Nations Championship in the Guardian is always a "treat". Funny how they pretty much go for their own countries. Me? I don't know. I think it could be almost anyone's.

France aren't quite as strong as they should be and they have the disability of the sometimes disastrous Saint-Andre at the helm (why oh why would you choose him over Gaulthier, French Rugby people? Tell me he didn't want it, please tell me that!), but there's always the Toulouse factor to consider (watch out for Louis Picamoles - he's one of the very best back row players in the world at the moment. I'd love to see him play alongside Richie McCaw… That should put the kibosh on him then. Sorry in advance, Louis) and Wesley Fofana is on fire at the mo.

Wales? They've got a difficult draw (like we had last year) so who knows? Just because no one's done three in a row for a while, doesn't mean they can't. They're probably the most established and (hopefully) settled team in the tournament, so why not? They can play some beautiful rugby when they get their shit together and they certainly know how to win these days.

Ireland? I'm tempted to say no but I think that's dangerous. I never discount them and neither should you. They put the frighteners on the All Blacks in the Autumn (even more than the English did) and it's O'Driscoll's final tournament. Bod is the man, the single best player in the professional era, in my opinion. If anyone can pull it off, he can.

Scotland? They're improving (funnily enough since Robinson's been gone. Can I get an "amen"?). They had a pretty good autumn series (a good win against Japan and two losses, but I'm talking about the playing rather than results) and they did come third last year - above France and Ireland.

Italy? To be honest, I'm not sure what's going on with them at the moment but I'll be interested to see some of the young players from the Top 14 in there. They can surprise you when you least expect it.

As for England, I never assume anything. There's quite a few newbloods in the squad and Lancaster has finally got rid of Ashton for the French fixture. Let's hope he's not knee-jerked back in there too quickly if things go wrong. The Vunipola brothers can be thrilling to watch (especially Billy), Farrell seems settled in at 10, and our back row is once again an embarrassment of riches even without Tom Croft. Let's hope they fire. We need to sort out our back line. We need some slippery little suckers who can cut defences up and not run into them and wonder why lying flat on their backs in the mud. Invention, boys, it's all about invention. More than anything, I hope Joe Lauchbury has a fabulous tournament. He's a Wasp and I'm a Wasp until I die.

Fact is, these days I know more about the French Top 14 than I do of the Premiership. It's difficult for me when France and England play because part of me has an investment with our cousins across the ditch (The Yatesies are Toulouse fans). Still, England need to find their form and their team. World Cup's next year and it's at home. Better hurry, Mr Lancaster.