|Guinness Six Countries|
|Dates: 1 February-16 March|
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The finest groups in the northern hemisphere, packed sporting cathedrals, hundreds of hundreds searching at from across the realm and all performed out in the shadow of the autumn’s Rugby World Cup.
The stage is determined for a spectacular 2019 Six Countries.
With Wales getting able to face France in Paris in the first match on Friday at 20:00 GMT – a match that that chances are you’ll perhaps explore are living on BBC One – BBC pundits hang been predicting this yr’s put twists.
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What match are you taking a survey forward to perhaps the most?
Extinct England scrum-half of Matt Dawson: France v Wales this Friday evening. No one is talking about these two groups and but their squads are severely unhealthy. If Wales slice it a closing-round title showdown in Cardiff against Eire is on the playing cards.
BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones: Where to commence? Eire v England is a hugely significant match on the opening weekend. But a Wales v England game in Cardiff is continually special. This yr this can occur in the third round of circulation – at the central point in the Championship – and can even be a dry-lag for a World Cup quarter-closing. Astronomical.
In terms of ambiance, travelling toughen, and history, it moreover doesn’t gain considerably better than a Scotland v Wales game at Murrayfield.
Extinct England centre Jeremy Guscott: It is so complicated to construct up for the reason that outcomes swap the significance and weight on every match as the occasion will get going. On paper you appears to be like at the three video games that pit England, Eire and Wales together, however it indubitably could all swap.
Who could perhaps be the breakthrough stars?
Jones: Scrum-half of Tomos Williams is being talked up by a big selection of these in the know in Wales, and a valorous exhibiting this Six Countries could settle the desire-he-acquired’t-he Rhys Webb World Cup saga. I’m moreover hoping one other rookie number nine, Antoine Dupont of France, will get a broad ****** to take a take a examine and translate his membership gain onto the realm stage.
Dawson: Wales’ support row has a behavior of delivering sparkling skill and Aaron Wainwright appears to be just like the change. From an Irish standpoint I’m taking a survey forward to seeing Chris and Tom Farrell – no relation to every diversified or defence coach Andy Farrell – brighten an already scintillating backline.
Guscott: He could merely hang a job breaking into an Eire crew that contains the likes of Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls, however the ferocity of the contests could mean that Jordan Larmour will get a lag. I’d admire to search him enact wisely because he is now now not overly tall, however compact, elusive, with wonderfully complicated footwork.
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Where, if anyplace, is Eire’s weakness?
Extinct Eire waft Shane Horgan: Eire are now now not going to tumble off a cliff by formulation of gain, skill or quality, however that that chances are you’ll perhaps lose video games in the Six Countries.
They can commence slowly in the Six Countries – it took a final-minute tumble-fair by Johnny Sexton after 40-plus phases to beat France final season. England’s energy game is what’s going to dread Eire on the opening weekend. It depends on decision, however Manu Tuilagi could disrupt Eire.
Later in the occasion, it doesn’t tumble brilliantly for Eire. They hang got purchased Italy in between the 2 ruin weeks. If Joe Schmidt decides to relaxation his senior players, they’re going to hang four weeks off, which is maybe too mighty away from the frontline.
In the extinguish they’ve a six-day turnaround between France at dwelling in the fourth round and a possible title decider away to Wales on the final weekend.
Dawson: The one weakness I can search is intensive at scrum-half of. Conor Murray is so influential I gain there’s a significant gap to the relaxation now that Luke McGrath is out and Kieran Marmion like minded support from injury. All eyes shall be on Murray. He’ll be getting a big selection of consideration.
Can Scotland translate Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Champions Cup highs to loyal development?
Extinct Wales flanker Martyn Williams: Edinburgh and Glasgow hang executed excellently however to preserve conclude the next circulation Scotland have to beat tall groups away from dwelling.
At Murrayfield they’re valorous and it acquired’t be a shock the least bit in the occasion that they turn over both Wales or Eire there this yr.
Away from dwelling even though it is a particular story. They hang got now now not acquired away to Eire since 2010, away to Wales since 2002, away to France since 1999 and it is formulation support in 1983 that they beat England at Twickenham.
To gain it even more complicated Scotland hang a long injury list with the likes of Hamish Watson, John Barclay, Richie Gray, Duncan Taylor and Mark Bennett amongst these sidelined.
They hang got some quality americans in Tommy Seymour, Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg and a good opener against Italy to compose self belief.
They’re truly wisely coached by Gregor Townsend and have to quiet be complicated to beat, however to lose Watson and a host of front-row players, that that chances are you’ll perhaps rule them out from a success the total part.
Dawson: Two dwelling fixtures is maybe the most full of life commence for the Scots to compose on their European gain. Momentum is continually key in the see for consistent success so I’m sure Gregor is emphasising precisely that.
They’re in the same location to the put Eire had been 10 years prior to now. Their gain at house is stable however they’re hit and miss away. But Scotland now have to quiet mediate they’ve the energy and guile to beat the staunch. Psychological application is fundamental.
How mighty will Eddie Jones indulge in England’s underdog narrate?
Extinct England centre Jeremy Guscott: There is an aspect to Eddie Jones’ Aussie psyche that could indulge in proving of us injurious and upsetting the rankings. Final yr, England came into the Six Countries as winners of the previous two tournaments. This yr they’ve every Eire and Wales above them in the realm rankings.
The formulation the fixtures hang landed they’ve purchased to trip to every Dublin and Cardiff. It would possibly perhaps be a tall order to the relaxation of world rugby in the occasion that they can beat Eire away this weekend.
Could hang to you observe at the personnel at his disposal, there would possibly be the premise for a main chest-on confrontational game with the ball in hand.
A front row of Mako Vunipola, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler, a 2d row of Maro Itoje and Joe Launchbury and Billy Vunipola at number eight provides up to six truly extremely efficient runners who can motive some injury.
In the backs he’ll hope to hang heavy-obligation ball-carriers Manu Tuilagi, Ben Te’o, and Joe Cokansiga all fit at the identical time.
It is a particular, more dynamic, confrontational England, which we hang now now not viewed too mighty of, and it would plot apartment in wide channels for Elliot Daly and Jonny Could moreover merely to take advantage of. It will possible be full of life to search what develops.
Bear Wales been flying below the radar despite nine wins from nine?
Jones: Wales had been flying below the radar, however now to now not any extent further, with Warren Gatland pleased to talk up his aspect’s chances. Who plays at fly-half of is key. Dan Biggar has been a warrior for Wales – and have to quiet be again – however the Welsh administration have to uncover in the occasion that they need a more ingenious option at stand-off to bewitch the World Cup.
Rhys Patchell is a horny participant however the 12-6 defeat by England at Twickenham final yr uncovered his temperament, so enter Gareth Anscombe – who has every the all-round game and the mentality to prosper at the ideal stage. Will he gain an prolonged lag this Championship to impress he is Wales’ World Cup playmaker?
Guscott: Wales have to quiet have to now not hang any dread of going to France in their occasion opener – they’ve a truly like minded myth against them in most fresh years every dwelling and away – after which they play Italy in the 2d round of fixtures. That will compose a head of momentum.
As a contest, the Six Countries has three of the four top groups in the realm. It is a showpiece of world rugby and Wales are a key section of that.
What could very wisely be the controversies of the occasion?
Jones: The formulation excessive and unhealthy tackles are officiated shall be a significant talking point. Domestically this season, it has been a broad number, with referees in European competitions dealing with challenges mighty more harshly than in the leagues, while the “Farrell flashpoints” of the autumn only muddied the waters further.
And what relating to the breakdown? Each by formulation of security and interpretation, it is rugby union’s version of the Wild West. For the hundreds of hundreds of casual rugby fans – who could merely only explore the Six Countries – all of it have to seem a whole mystery.
Guscott: The referees hang the toughest job and I commend them for what they enact. For the game to float although, I’d admire to search them agree with the breakdown location. Too many players are losing their fingers and elbows onto the bottom on their formulation to getting preserve of the ball. For me that have to quiet be a penalty, it is most practical to quiet have to trip straight for the ball.
Wide ‘jackalling’ is a like minded section of the game, however there would possibly be simply too mighty of the marginal stuff that is slowing and stifling the game.
Who will bewitch?
Williams: Eire. That it is possible you’ll perhaps only trip on past performances truly, however somebody of them, England and Wales could bewitch it. France is in total a curveball.
Dawson: Eire are overwhelming favourites for every the Championship and Broad Slam so what an opportunity to impress the rugby world how adept they’re at carrying that stress.
Most efficient complacency can beat them however here’s the Six Countries and history reveals the underdogs are at possibility of nibble the heels of its owner.
Guscott: Eire, it is now now not a elaborate clutch for me. If they play at their top stage, they’re the staunch crew. Complacency is a imaginable possibility to them, however the model that Joe Schmidt runs that camp I can now now not search it taking preserve.
Jones: Whoever wins in Dublin on the first Saturday I have confidence shall be brilliantly placed to bewitch the total occasion. In opposition to my better judgement, given they haven’t scored a Six Countries are trying in Dublin since 2011, I am going for England.
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