There have been some truly great moments in the Six Nations to date but sadly overshadowed by the off-field mismanagement we have known for a while would come to hurt the game.
Let’s start with the good stuff – Ireland have lived up to their billing and what I love is their willingness to play at the limit of their ability. Their underperformance at World Cups is surely going to end at last, and remember it is driven by a connected long-term strategy put in place some 8 years ago. Other Unions please note.
I don’t think France has continued to develop mainly because their midfield lacks creativity. Penaud could be the best player in the world in his position but without him they were 30 points adrift of the Irish. We will see more when the confident Scots arrive seeking a win at the Stade de France to set up a massive challenge when Ireland come to Murrayfield.
Talking of Scotland, they have made so much of their talent – their backline would dominate a Six Nations selection – and even if it is only the Italians they conquer (no certainty) in the balance of the tournament they can be well pleased with their efforts. Their draw in the Rugby World Cup is merciless – Ireland and SA must be favourites- how can 3 of the top 5 be in the same pool?!
World Rugby massively got it wrong as Wales were seeded so high at time of the draw. Talking of, there is no way they can win on Saturday surely, assuming there is a game. Anger and frustration cannot win you a Test match of such importance or perhaps it will unleash an unstoppable release of hwyl? Whoever loses will face a grim prospect for their remaining matches. In fact, the likes of Jac Morgan and Joe Hawkins show that talent is there, but the supreme, bumbling, and misdirected incompetence of the WRU is squarely to blame. Their amazing 6N record is testament to Gatland’s smart use of resources. Is this now the darkest hour…….?
England need time they do not have, and we just have to be patient. Under the microscope, they will find themselves in the full glare of analysis. The best resourced country in World Rugby can recover strongly – I have always said there is a good England team around most corners- but there can be no predictions and little momentum. If we have to wait till the World Cup, then the easiest draw possible can still see us through to a semi-final.
Lastly, Italy is going to win a big one soon. A highlights reel of the tournament so far would feature their play on numerous occasions.