Six Nations 2016 is knocking at our door and the progress of some sides will be at the forefront of many questions. The key behind where will everyone finish after their World Cup progress.
2016 Six Nations Preview
Wales had a decent year with a quarter final exit in the World Cup and a narrow loss to Ireland in the race to the Six Nations(6N) and with key figures out for a while, the young blood coming through the system will undoubtedly be pushed into the deep end playing games away at the Aviva and Twickenham. Although, as they proved in the World Cup, they can beat England down at their rugby HQ. Some key figures are due back by then as well and so each position was tightly contended right up until the squad announcement. One thing Wales need to work on before the 6N is their scrummaging as at this past World cup it Was shockingly bad and at times gave away too many penalties. With France, Scotland and Italy at home they have to come up trumps with 3 wins if they have any hope of winning the tournament. Any loss here will mean they are out of contention unless Ireland and England lose to these and Wales. Overall I’d go with top spot for the Welsh. Aled Davies earns a first Welsh cap and with some experienced players included they are due a good tournament.
The reigning champions will be a stern test and with Wales at home, they surely fancy themselves as favourites amongst many. Their progress at the World Cup could be questioned as they had a relatively easy group, with only France to trouble them and this came to show as Ireland (and France) both capitulated in the knock-out stages. However they missed several key men during the campaign and like Wales they will have most back before the start of the northern hemisphere glory begins. They will need to look for a long term captain as Paul O’Connell retired and Heaslip hasn’t got many years left in him. I think this culmination of injury and captaincy woes will lose them one game; home to Wales and they will finish second behind the roaring dragons. Look for a close game however.
Under new found coach Eddie Jones I can see England going through a developmental tournament, with tough games against Wales and Ireland proving key if they are to win it outright. There has been a lot of controversy in the camp since the departure of England our od their own World Cup, but this could make other teams complacent and as Jones showed with Japan; anything is possible. This Six Nations I believe will be death or glory. They will either win it or collapse. The chances of a minor collapse are high as the new coach will have little time to work with his side, or even get to know them and if France turn up on the day, there are three very harsh ties to encounter. With the introduction of a new coach perhaps the players will find a new, profound style and flourish, and they have the players to do this with the likes of May and Ford.
A mixed World Cup in many ways has left many a French fan pondering on what their team will and can do at the 2016 Six Nations. A decent group stage with only one loss encountered to Ireland, ended with the destruction at the hands of New Zealand. It is an old cliché but ”which French side will turn up?’’, remains to be seen. The French will be sure to be a hard side to roll over in Paris at least and should never be underestimated as they are one of the only sides who have had the All Blacks number in recent years and so they can beat the best. This is a very talented French side with bulk up front and pace and skill in the backs and so if they play like a good French side can they could easily contend for this upcoming 6N. Huge shake ups in the squad leaving out players like Basteraud will sure to make for an interesting French squad.
After the best World Cup showing in many years, Scotland must be backing themselves to go a long way in the 2016 Six Nations. They have progressed so much under Vern Cotter, that this bunch of Scots are hardly recognisable. They play with skill and can actually finish the passion off with flair, unlike many recent Scottish sides. They felt as if they should have beaten Australia, like so many other rugby fans, but that decision has gone and they will look to improve upon that experience in the 6N. They can knock off Italy and France quite easily if they played good rugby, but if they play like they did in the RWC quarter final they can actually win the northern hemisphere title, believe it or not. However I can’t see them transferring that sort of rugby into goods quite yet and I can see them finishing a rather dampening 5th place, which I feel for them as their rugby deserves better and hopefully will produce better than 5th. Look out for them to knock off one of the big three or four.
Italy will win the wooden spoon again in many people’s eyes after what turned out to be a poor World Cup, missing their captain Parisse. With Italian rugby in turmoil at the moment they haven’t showed much progress in the last few years at all, getting only a set of wins at most in many attempts. Under Brunel they have plateaued and maybe if he goes before the tournament they can embrace a southern hemisphere coach who will manage them to a set of three wins and perhaps finish above the big three names in the group. They can beat the names, knocking off Wales and France in the tournament before. They also have many young lads coming through the ranks, which is somewhat surprising with the state of Italian pro rugby under Treviso and Zebre. Overall I wouldn’t expect the Azuri to do much this year, but watch out for their young names to come good ready for the next World Cup and trio of Six Nations prior to it.