I was a little negative last week, I accept that. I don’t think it was unjustified but I am certainly happy to be proven wrong. For the second time in 6 years Ireland have spoiled the English Grand Slam party and by doing so on Paddy’s weekend have left a certain sheen on their 2017 Six Nations campaign. A sheen can be dangerous though, and Ireland’s shortcomings this season cannot be forgotten.
I’ve deleted the first two drafts of this guys, bear with me. Last Friday’s loss in Cardiff was not only deeply upsetting in relation to Ireland’s title hopes – it was easily the most infuriating performance from the green army since Schmidt took charge of the team. Yes, I even include the Argentina loss in the World Cup and the 2013 loss to the All Blacks in there. This was awful.
No changes either side, roof closed, Cardiff on a Friday evening. We’ve been so fully focused on that final fixture that it has been easy to lose sight of this one. Whatever about how tough or not it may be for Ireland and those dreams of a third championship in 4 years, it’s gonna be a cracking game of rugby.
Well, that was interesting. Whether it was Scotland showing all the highland resolve they could muster to oust the Welsh, Ireland commanding a win over the French amidst a somewhat imperfect performance or Italy frustrating the hell out of the English – this was certainly an entertaining and educational weekend of rugby. Ireland, and indeed Scotland, are now the only two teams in with a shout alongside the English with their unbeaten run continuing, and a truly fascinating two weeks of rugby lie ahead. Continue reading Six Nations – Ireland (And Scotland) Still In The Mix
In any other year we would probably meter expectation after a demolishing of Italy, especially with such an embarrassing showing from the Azzurri as we got on Saturday. In a Six Nations where Ireland need to make amends for a poor start and tries/points are more relevant than ever though, this was promising stuff.
Every game in the Six Nations is a must-win. Lose one, the Slam is gone, the Triple Crown too potentially, and with no round robin structure or pool stages the competition is already much further out of your control than it already was. That being said, we have recent precedent for a team losing their opener and still winning the tournament – Wales in 2013. Back then there were no bonus points and the Welsh had been well and truly battered by Ireland in the opening game. You’d swear that opening game never happened as they nonchalantly proceeded to run home with the trophy come the final game against England. There’s hope, that’s all I’m saying!
I mean, it’s said every year, but this truly is shaping up to be one of the most competitive Six Nations ever seen. Four of the six teams have had plenty of reason to be optimistic in the last 6 months or so, whilst Wales and Italy have had a steady time at least, if not spectacular. Most importantly, all six of them have big, pressure intensive wins under their belts recently and are perfectly fired up. Oh, and did I mention the addition of bonus points to the competition this year? Bring it on! Continue reading Six Nations – Wherefore Art Thou, Johnny?