The Six Nations fixtures, like every year are intriguing to review.
This year’s tournament promises to be one of the best ever. In the autumn, Ireland recorded their first home win over the All Blacks. Wales beat the Springboks and finally broke their losing streak against Australia. England somehow beat South Africa, were unlucky against New Zealand and dismantled the Wallabies.
The blue teams all had more mixed results. On the positive side, France and Scotland both performed well against a resurgent Springboks, while Italy gained a crucial win over Georgia and did well against Australia. On the other hand, Scotland won’t be happy with their performances against Wales or Argentina, despite winning the latter. France took a step back with their Fiji loss, and Italy were annihilated by New Zealand and Ireland.
The Six Nations fixtures this year has left Wales in a very interesting position. For each team, the game against Warren Gatland’s men will be at a crucial time for each of the sides they face. A run through Wales’ fixtures shows why this might be the case.
Wales’ Six Nations Fixtures
France v Wales
First up, Wales play France in Paris. The French are desperate for a win to restore some confidence after their recent momentum was halted by Fiji. Les Bleus follow the Wales game with trips to the Aviva and Twickenham, with France unlikely to find those happy hunting grounds. A loss to Wales threatens to send France into a downward spiral.
Italy v Wales
Next, Wales travel to Rome. Italy will hope for an upset at Murrayfield in their first game. If they pull off a shock and get a win, they will be desperate to follow it up with a good performance in front of their home fans. More likely, Conor O’Shea’s men will need a confidence restoring game against Wales. Like France, they follow this game with Ireland and England, so a heavy defeat to the Welsh threatens to be extremely damaging.
Wales v England
After the rest weekend, England will visit Cardiff. England visit Dublin on the opening weekend and face the blue teams at home. France haven’t won at Twickenham for 12 years, Scotland last won there in 1983 and Italy have never beaten England anywhere, so three home wins look very likely. A loss in Dublin would surprise nobody, leaving a good result against Wales as vital to avoid another disappointing mid table finish. On the other hand, if England do beat Ireland away, then Wales look like the main obstacle to a Grand Slam.
Scotland v Wales
Next up for Wales is a visit to Murrayfield. Scotland won’t fear going to Paris and will expect to beat Italy. Gregor Townsend’s men were well beaten in their last two games against the Welsh. They will target this as an opportunity for payback. With a trip to London and a visit from Joe Schmidt’s relentless winning machine, the Wales game looks likely to determine whether this year is a success or failure for the Scots.
Wales v Ireland, the Six Nations fixture of the year?
Finally, the match many are billing as the biggest of the tournament. Wales host Ireland. With England at home this year, this is without doubt Ireland’s hardest fixture. It could be a Grand Slam game for one or even both teams.
Wales themselves look in terrific shape. They have amazing depth in most positions. Shaun Edwards has drilled a defence that looks the equal of anyone’s. There are talismanic leaders on and off the field, and an ever improving attack. Additionally, their two most difficult fixtures are at home, and they are on a winning streak. In my opinion, Wales are the favourites for this year’s 6 Nations.
The Warren Gatland Interview
The 1014 Rugby spent a wonderful morning interviewing Warren Gatland at his beach house in New Zealand. Warren is incredibly upbeat about Wales, their Six Nations fixtures and the year ahead.
Do you think Wales will be playing these tactics, changing them up entirely or customising them to suit the opposition.
A more detailed and complete fixture list.
Author: Daniel Pugsley
I am a 31 year old from Yorkshire, England. I have played social rugby for 25 years in England, Japan, Italy, Poland and the UAE. I teach English as a foreign language, which explains why I’ve lived in so many places. I recently moved back to England and have had to take a break from playing, but I hope to pull on the boots again soon.