Thursday, April 05, 2007

Six Nations starts this weekend

January 29, 2007

It's not just exciting Super 14 action in the southern hemisphere heating up this weekend. The competition for European international supremacy in the Six Nations championship also gets under way with a kick-off Saturday morning.

Defending champions France travel to Italy for Saturday's early test, and England host Scotland at Twickenham for the afternoon game.

On Sunday, Ireland -- the team many pundits are tipping as 6N favourites -- travel to Cardiff to hose down Wales.

Full Six Nations fixture list here.

The tournament this year looks incredibly tight. France will be looking to regain some of the shine that was tarnished in their two defeats to New Zealand in November. Ireland look the goods -- this is probably the best Irish outfit I've seen in my lifetime -- and they get to host France in their all-important test at Croke Park in Dublin. That home ground may decide the championship. Ireland traditionally plays their matches at their 50,000-seat home at Lansdowne Road, but that stadium is presently undergoing re-construction, and the much larger Croke Park (capacity 82,500) is expected to be sold-out and noisy. England have to claw a long way back under new coach Brian Ashton in order to gain some desperately required confidence going into this years' World Cup. England gets to host France at Twickers, but is on the road for their two critical tests against Wales and Ireland. Wales is expected to compete for the title, and they may surprise, but they are at-best a 3rd-equal pick, and they may yet have their hands full with Scotland, who certainly surprised the best in the NH last year and may do the same this time. Can't tip the Scots for the championship however, they haven't demonstrated consistency to wager as champs. Italy should be competitive in a few home tests, but they are expected to end the tournament holding the Wooden Spoon.


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