|Guinness Six Nations 2020|
|Dates: 1 February-14 March|
|Protection: Watch reside protection on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, Linked TVs and on-line; hearken to match commentaries, exhibits and podcasts on BBC Radio 5 Stay, Sports activities Further and BBC Sounds; comply with textual content protection on the BBC Sport web site and cellular app; additional protection accessible in Wales, Scotland and Eire. Full coverage details.|
4 new head coaches, a raft of uncapped up-and-comers and a rivalry that stretches again greater than 135 years.
The historical past, drama, thrills and spills of the Six Nations return this weekend to begin the newest chapter on the planet’s oldest worldwide rugby match.
Within the wake of the Rugby World Cup, there are many new characters, on the pitch and on the touchlines, to boost the storylines.
Here’s what it’s essential know in regards to the 2020 match.
Due to the decision of the British and Irish Lions, there have been a few caretakers, however it’s 13 years since somebody aside from Warren Gatland was Wales head coach as they went right into a Six Nations marketing campaign,
Wayne Pivac has the intimidating activity of following a person who delivered three Grand Slams, the newest lifted 12 months in the past.
The New Zealander may have performed with out an damage that guidelines out centre Jonathan Davies, the ‘captain’ of the claustrophobically tight defence that characterised Gatland’s reign.
Shaun Edwards, who masterminded that a part of the sport from the touchline, can also be absent, having taken his inside information to Six Nations rivals France.
However there are some welcome faces again on the scene. Scrum-half Rhys Webb is obtainable after bringing a hasty finish to his Toulon stint, whereas Taulupe Faletau, arguably the match’s finest quantity eight on prime kind, is hoping he’s on the finish of a two-year run of accidents.
Neither had been a part of a World Cup marketing campaign that promised a lot however could not break new floor. Wales had been squeezed out within the semi-finals by eventual champions South Africa, matching their finest run on the match again in 2011.
One to observe: Louis Rees-Zammit: The 19-year-old wing has been one in every of this season’s sensations, scoring 10 tries in 14 video games for Gloucester. Because the saying goes: If they’re adequate…
Curveball: Coach Pivac is seeking to field intelligent by convincing extra Welsh-qualified, however English-based, gamers to decide to the trigger. The recruitment of Saracens former England Underneath-20 centre Nick Tompkins and Wasps lock Will Rowlands exhibits he’s having some success.
What the pundits say: Former Wales wing Philippa Tuttiett: “Lots of Welsh folks really feel like we did not fairly give it one of the best shot within the World Cup due to all of the accidents and we nonetheless have one thing to offer. They are going to be anticipating huge issues and anticipating Wayne Pivac so as to add to what we have already bought somewhat than shake issues up.”
Title odds: 11-2
Within the wake of the Rugby World Cup last defeat by South Africa in November, Eddie Jones entered, in his phrases, a “grieving process”. He has since discovered a brand new problem to reignite his ardour.
“We need to be remembered as the best crew that ever performed rugby,” he mentioned in sometimes daring type.
England have some severe inquiries to reply earlier than they will make any declare to that title.
Jones’ 34-man squad options eight uncapped gamers however not a single specialist quantity eight to fill in for the injured Billy Vunipola.
At 9, Ben Youngs and Willi Heinz, 30 and 33 respectively, have restricted shelf life and no clear successors.
And time is ticking on Jones himself, along with his contract set to run out in August 2021.
However with Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Jonny Could and Anthony Watson all rising from the World Cup effectively in credit score, there’s a confidence that may paper over these cracks.
One to observe: Ollie Thorley: Final season’s Premiership younger participant of the 12 months should struggle for a spot, however is one in every of solely three specialist wings within the squad and has the expertise to take his likelihood.
Curveball: The Saracens saga. There will not be any ill-feeling from their team-mates, however the Sarries contingent come into the match with their membership futures unsure.
What the pundits say: Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson: “If any of the opposite groups within the Six Nations can discover the sting the place they’re trying down their noses at England and saying they are not fearful – there is likely to be a wobble. From the second England did not win the World Cup, you concentrate on what the subsequent iteration of the aspect is. This subsequent 12 months is after we needs to be seeing gamers like George Furbank and Ollie Thorley. If they will carry out in Paris on Sunday, they’re doing one thing proper.”
Title odds: 5-6 Fav
Off the again of a Six Nations Grand Slam and a historic house win over New Zealand, Eire completed 2018 because the northern hemisphere’s pre-eminent crew and the likeliest candidates to succeed the All Blacks as world champions the next 12 months.
As a substitute that turned out to be the excessive level of coach Joe Schmidt’s reign.
A mediocre Six Nations marketing campaign in 2019 was adopted by a meek World Cup quarter-final exit in Japan.
Nice Britain rugby league legend Andy Farrell served as an assistant to Schmidt and now succeeds him. He has gone for the same technique of evolution, somewhat than revolution, along with his crew.
Fly-half Johnny Sexton, as soon as the firebrand younger gun, now a 34-year-old senior statesman, is captain, with common half-back side-kick Conor Murray holding his place underneath extreme stress from Ulster’s John Cooney.
Nevertheless 95-cap mainstay Rob Kearney has been overlooked the squad altogether with the electrical Jordan Larmour now undisputed first-choice full-back, whereas Leinster’s rangy, roaming quantity eight Caelan Doris will make his debut towards Scotland.
Can Farrell’s tweaks restore the crew to their 2018 ranges?
One to observe: James Ryan: Leinster’s flawless second row, nonetheless simply 23, has lengthy been earmarked as a future Eire captain. With Rory Greatest not within the pack, he will probably be known as as much as tackle a number of the management burden.
Curveball: The ways. Eire underneath Schmidt had been ruthless, correct and drilled to parade-ground customary, not often deviating from the top coach’s kick-chase script. With former England maverick Mike Catt introduced in as an assault coach, may issues flip a little bit extra free-form?
What the pundits say: Former Eire wing Shane Horgan: “I feel Andy Farrell has one thing to show. He was the continuity appointment, sustaining Joe Schmidt’s legacy. However then 2019 occurred for Eire – a disastrous Six Nations and World Cup and swiftly he has needed to pivot away from Joe. Now there’s a demand within the nation that there’s a change in course. If Eire make the highest three, I feel they’d be blissful.”
Title odds: Four-1
The build-up to Scotland’s marketing campaign has changed into one thing akin to an episode of Love Island, dominated by rancour and hearsay over the departure of a flamboyant predominant participant.
Finn Russell, Scotland’s mercurial fly-half, is believed to have hit the bar at the team hotel, ignored team-mates’ recommendation to cease consuming, ignored his alarm clock for coaching the next morning after which declined to stay about when informed he could be dropped for the crew’s opener towards Eire on Saturday.
Head coach Gregor Townsend insists that their relationship continues to be sound. Russell’s social media ‘likes’ recommend that there may nonetheless be some points to iron out.
Coupled with a knee damage to hot-stepping wing Darcy Graham and the frustration of a Rugby World Cup marketing campaign that didn’t progress past the swimming pools, expectations should not excessive.
Nevertheless, the return of centre Huw Jones after a lack of kind and flanker Hamish Watson after health points are a lift.
And full-back Stuart Hogg, so lengthy the heartbeat of the aspect and now the captain, sounds decided to tug extra from his team-mates.
One to observe: Jamie Ritchie: The 23-year-old flanker was an age-grade star and is lastly getting his run at senior stage.
Curveball: The information that Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson was paid £933,000 within the final tax 12 months won’t have improved relations between blazers and tracksuits.
What the pundits say: Former Scotland scrum-half Andy Nicol: “Gregor Townsend is underneath an terrible lot of stress and Finn Russell was the very last thing Scotland wanted after a disappointing World Cup. Stuart Hogg being introduced as captain was actually constructive for everybody as a result of he is Scotland’s finest participant and he is captivated with Scotland then the entire Finn Russell affair began. It is knocked Scotland massively – everybody’s speaking about it.”
Title odds: 25-1
France’s squad will not be measured by the place they stand in March. As a substitute, coach Fabien Galthie has skilled his sights very clearly on the 2023 Rugby World Cup, which his nation is internet hosting.
A 42-man preliminary squad featured 19 uncapped gamers and a mean age of simply 24.
It isn’t simply blind religion in youth although. France’s Underneath-20s have gained back-to-back age-grade world titles. Romain Ntamack, son of former France wing Emile, made the step as much as the senior Rugby World Cup aspect within the wake of successful the primary.
One to observe: Antoine Dupont: A relative veteran with 20 caps and 23 years on the clock, the scrum-half is already one in every of France’s brightest stars.
Curveball: Defence coach Shaun Edwards is a uncommon international appointment to the French teaching workers. Can he whip an erratic, inconsistent France into form as he battles to get his tongue around the local lingo?
What the pundits say: Dawson: “Trying on the French backline, if they don’t mild this match up, we now have an issue. France have a capability to create reminiscences of all the nice French aptitude backs that rip it up and rating wonderful tries. In the event that they get sufficient ball they will trigger whole havoc.”
Title odds: 11-2
One more new head coach is in place. Franco Smith is holding the seat heat till July, stepping in after Conor O’Shea stop to take up an administrative function with the Rugby Soccer Union.
The South African is the newest to attempt to shut the hole on the opposite 5 nations. Italy have suffered whitewashes in 4 successive tournaments since they beat Scotland in February 2015, their final Six Nations success.
They are going to attempt to enhance that document, for probably the most half, with out Sergio Parisse.
The totemic quantity eight was denied the farewell he anticipated when Storm Hagibis brought about the Azzurri’s last Rugby World Cup pool match to be known as off. The 36-year-old plans to be concerned in not less than one in every of Italy’s house video games throughout the match to place the seal on a profession that has collected 142 caps.
One to observe: Jake Polledri: Born and introduced up within the West Nation, the 24-year-old Gloucester flanker qualifies for Italy although his grandmother and will probably be one in every of their go-to males in Parisse’s absence.
Curveball: The Italian golf equipment have promised to offer Smith extra entry and management over his worldwide gamers. Might that produce extra coherence and consistency?
What the pundits say: Nicol: “While you go 5 years with out successful a sport, there has bought to be severe questions. As a lot as Rome has change into a terrific journey yearly, I feel Georgia have gotten a proper to have a say in that.”
Title odds: 1,000-1