ATTENDING a Six Nations preview dinner in London this week was a sudden reminder that the tournament is almost upon us once again.
For the players, this time of year is incredibly intense. The top players will be going from the Premiership, to European competition and then international rugby in a matter of a few weeks.
It’s a very exciting time and, for England, the old adage that you’re only as good as your last game will hold true more than ever this time.
England’s last game was, of course, that win over New Zealand so everybody is going to expect them to beat Scotland well in their opening Six Nations match.
That, in itself, brings pressures because the Scots will have nothing to lose while a lot of these England players, going back to Martin Johnson’s tenure as coach, have yet to truly back up a performance.
It’s more than a decade ago that people were genuinely talking about making England v France the last game in every Six Nations because they were the dominant teams, but they’ve been anything but since.
That said, I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think we may be back to the old guard this time around. I can’t see past England or France to win the championship.
England ticked one box with their win over the All Blacks and that will have given that group of players tremendous confidence in what they can do.
They will surely be up for the challenges of going to face Ireland and Wales in Dublin and Cardiff respectively and winning those games.
They need to get on a roll of wins, including the scalps of Australia and South Africa later this year to really build momentum towards the next World Cup.
- Let Steve know your thoughts via wiltshiretimes.co.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org