As we approach the Six Nations there is certainly some anticipation in the air for the return of one of Rugby Union’s top spectacles. One of the longest running international tournaments, the Six Nations provides national teams with the chance to start the year off in style and earn bragging rights over the rest of your rivals. As always, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy will be participating — all looking to win the trophy with varying chances in the rugby union odds.
Each team has a variety of star players and some coaches that could prove the difference between winning and losing come the start of February. With that in mind, we thought we’d run through some of the names to remember ahead of this year’s Six Nations.
Its really hard to pinpoint where things have gone so wrong for Italy in the last few years at the Six Nations. Despite having a strong side, they lack consistency, a situation that has culminated in some disastrous results — leaving the Azzurri without a win since 2015. Their poor fortunes can certainly be turned around though if Paolo Garbisi is in his best condition.
Paolo Garbisi is carrying the team on his shoulders at times, and despite being just 21 years old the Montpellier man garners experience that defies his tender age.
Scotland have so often been the bridesmaid but never the bride in the Six Nations, but with Hamish Watson in the side, they always have that extra chance of winning even when the chips are down. The Edinburgh flanker has enjoyed himself at the last few Six Nations and despite his team somewhat underperforming, with a disappointing fourth place finish last time out, Watson went on to win Player of the Tournament and he’ll be hoping to recreate that form this time out.
Wales have had a tough run over the last few months where injuries are concerned. It was confirmed usual captain Alun Wyn Jones would be side-lined throughout the tournament so the baton is handed over to Dan Biggar next month. This is a strong Wales team but with Ken Owens, Taulupe Faletau and Dan Lydiate all unavailable, you wonder if the task will be too much for Biggar to handle.
Biggar was given the full backing of his coach Wayne Pivac, tasked with a difficult decision but fully supporting the Northampton Saints fly half, saying: “With the experience missing we wanted someone who had experienced the competition on a number of occasions and knows the rigours of it.
“He gives us that – he has 95 Wales caps and he’s toured with the British and Irish Lions. Dan has the respect of the other players and management so we think he’ll do a great job.”
Is there really a better player in the world on current form better than Antoine Dupont? — you’ll struggle to find one. It’s almost like the 25-year-old has eyes in the back of his head with how quick his thinking is and how intelligently he reads the game. The scrum half is certainly versatile despite his more diminutive stature and his leadership is something France will need to push on for an 18th title under Fabien Galthié.
The current World Player of the Year, Dupont enjoyed a great 2021 domestically with Toulouse but injuries have ruled him out of the squad since December, with no involvement in their trip to the Wasps. The question now is whether we see a fully fit Dupont at the Six Nations, or if injuries begin to derail the French pursuit of the trophy.
Image Credits: Hanson Lu