Welcome to the University Observer Six Nations blog, where the colossal efforts of the University Observer’s sports writers will cover every aspect of the competition. Every blade of grass trudged upon by rambling forwards detailed, each backline movement analyzed to its core and no ruck left unturnedover. The blog will be your key to keeping up to date with all the trials and tribulations of the tournament.
Wales vs England Friday (Friday, 19:45)
Some rugby folk are against the notion of a Friday night kick-off. The main argument against being that everyone misses out on the near eight hour long Saturday rugby fest that stretches long into the evening. However, if there is any fixture that can stake a claim for Friday night games kicking off the Six Nations, Wales vs England fits the bill.
England will enter the realm of the Dragon desperately seeking their first victory against the Welsh in Cardiff for seven years. Wales will still feel aggrieved from last years fixture at Twickenham where they bossed the game and still ended up on the wrong side of a 30-17 scoreline.
Wales should have enough to beat England at home. It is a fixture that usually sees the home side prevail in some form with the win. Both sides have very exciting back lines that are not afraid to run the ball so it should be a brilliant spectacle.
UO Tip: Not sitting on the fence for this one. Wales victory by six-points
Ireland open their Six Nations campaign against Italy. Ireland convincingly beat Italy. Ireland go onto win the Grandslam. Right? It would a tough push to follow a similar plot line to that of 2009. Ireland creep into this fixture, but creep in with a refreshing looking team.
Young and adventurous wingers on either side, props that are becoming the fulcrum of the Irish scrum and the most in-form back row forward in Europe at the moment in Sean O’Brien. So for all the injuries, Ireland don’t look in too bad a shape. Italy are happily welcoming back their star no.8 and capt-í-tan Sergio Parisse. Six Nations fans will have missed his ever heroic performances for the Azzurri and should be glad to see his return.
Food for thought: Italy always seem to grab and shock win (any win against anybody is a shock) over the course of the Six Nations. Why not Ireland?
UO Tip: Ireland win by ten points. Fergus McFadden to score on his debut and Sean O’Brien man of the match.
France vs Scotland (Saturday, 17:00)
There is no doubt Scotland will give it socks in the Stade de France on Saturday, but whether their socks will be enough to beat the French is another matter. After scoring their first try within the first two minutes after a succession of forty-three offloads, the French will have their tails pricked like a mare in season and +5 more tries will likely follow.
Luckily because this fixture is being held on a Saturday, we will get the privilege of watching the best tighthead prop in the world (Monday-Saturday inclusive), Euan Murray.
UO Tip: France to send Scotland home with their socks between their legs. Yes, between their legs!
Players to watch this weekend
Jonathan Davies: Young, powerful, fast and attack minded, Davies is exactly what the Welsh need to kick start their campaign. The Scarlets centre has a lot of competition to contend with for the number 12 or 13 jersey due to the amount of utility backs in the Welsh ranks. His selection proves that Gatland thinks highly of him and this is the best stage for Davies to prove his worth to Wales going forward.
Fergus McFadden: Another newbie to the Six Nations ring, McFadden is a player who has blossomed under the guidance of Leinster’s coach Josef Schmidt. He has found a new home on the wing and has impressed so much for Leinster in that area that a starting berth for Ireland appeared due to Tommy Bowe being injured and Fitzgerald already deputising for the missing Kearney at full back. Don’t be surprise to see him race around his marker if given space on the outside.
Six Nations Winners – France (but maybe Wales)
Player of the Tournament – Imanol Harinordoquy (but maybe Jamie Roberts)
Top try scorer – Aurelien Rougerie (but maybe Morgan Stoddart)