I have thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Six Nations and am looking forward to Super Saturday and an all-to-play-for finale to the tournament.
Ireland and France are the only two teams with a horse left in the race albeit the French are a few lengths ahead and the most likely winners. The French welcome England to Paris and will be full of confidence on the back of their impressive displays to date. I thought England arguably had their best performance against Ireland last weekend despite playing with 14 men for most of the match and ultimately losing to a record score-line at Twickenham against Ireland. If France can handle the pressure of playing for their first Grand Slam in over ten years, I see them as favourites on Saturday.
Ireland welcome Scotland to Dublin in the earlier fixture and a win would put them ahead of France in points leaving France the decider. Given the current table any Irish win coupled with a French loss would see Ireland crowned Six Nations champions. Even if France wins with two losing bonus points and Ireland win without a bonus point leaving the two sides on level, given Ireland’s far superior points difference, they will still claim the silverware. I would favour Ireland to come out on top against the Scots and leave themselves with a hope of clinching the Championship – they are also playing for a first Triple Crown since 2018.
I have been impressed with France and Ireland this tournament but it is interesting to note their vastly different tactics, both of which have been successful. France have kicked more and passed less than any other team in the tournament whereas Ireland have passed more and kicked less than any other team. The French attacking game has been explosive when they have been in the red zone; they have the most offloads in the tournament and have scored all their tries within five phases; the definition of a ‘force to be reckoned with.’ Ireland’s success can be attributed to their accuracy and willingness to play with ball in hand for long periods. They have made more carries and more metres than any other team and racked up the most tries in the process. I’m intrigued to see which style of play finishes top of the Six Nations table.
On the 26th March the Women’s Six Nations kicks off and I am grateful and excited to be in the England squad and fit to play. Having unfortunately missed much of this season due to injury I cannot wait to get stuck into the first match of the tournament against Scotland. It is particularly exciting this year that the tournament will be played in its own window as opposed to alongside the Men’s Six Nations. It gives us an opportunity to impress with the traction that we get on our own. England have won the past three Six Nations and we are on a run of 18 games unbeaten, but this year will be as competitive as ever. France are arguably our closest competitors; they have run us close in recent fixtures and with it being the final match of the tournament it could make for a tasty affair over in France.
The other teams have also made significant strides this season. Wales have announced professional contracts, Scotland have just qualified for the World Cup and there is a lot of positive change over in Ireland as well. I am confident of our chances in this year’s Championship. With a great group of players, including the returning Natasha Hunt who has been out of the setup for a while, we are in a strong place.
Following the conclusion of the men’s tournament this year my attention will solely be on the Women’s Six Nations and defending our title.