After a break in the Championship, the rugby public will place their full attention on the remaining Six Nations matches. Complicated by the postponement of the Ireland v Italy fixture – so, what should fans expect from one of the most interesting Six Nations in years?
France are undefeated. That itself is a rarity, even with two games to play. The fact that a side – one other than England, Wales or Ireland- are championship leaders. That gives the 2020 edition a ‘fresh interest’. And that should be applauded.
Not to disrespect the second, third or fourth-placed sides, but the ball is in the French team’s court. That is different (possibly unfamiliar) to the recent fan’s memory of this competition but, new head coach Fabien Galthié has assembled a group of young players who have high hopes. Long term fans will recall years gone past, and must also find it a novelty to include France in the title chances.
Les Bleus can control their own destiny – although, the Scots and Irish maybe even more determined now to upset that side’s ambitions. Some might say that Scotland and Ireland, hold the hopes of all the other nations [in fairness].
Defeat France, they could assist Irish, English, or even Welsh chances of winning the 2020 title.
It makes it interesting, as it does when any undefeated team plays the sport. Just as Liverpool has only just felt Premier League defeat for the first time in over 400 days, France are the target for both their opponents. Making for an interesting Six Nations – as much as the French men want to continue having their best season since 2010.
Plus, there is the Women’s and Under 20 competition to enjoy. It is a great time to follow the Six Nations.
What fans can expect; one of the most interesting Six Nations in years
The round four fixtures will offer plenty. Unfortunately, the Coronavirus has removed the Irish team home match, but there are still two other men’s matches and four other games to digest.
Saturday: England v Wales at Twickenham will deliver a classic rivalry. And with Eddie Jones comically making selections that cause conjecture and consternation for English fans. Which side is chosen to meet Wayne Pivac (see below image) and his 2020 Wales side, could make or break that team’s season.
The chances of Wales are fair. Coming off a loss to France – which England too experienced – may have seen fresh planning from the Welsh camp this week. Fans should expect an angry Wales team; with the possible injury to Dan Biggar offering an opportunity to Jarrod Evans (who could be in line to take his place at Twickenham for the pivotal Round Four fixture).
Expect Wales to be motivated – yet, the answer from England might also be character building.
Sunday: Scotland v France at Murrayfield will test the Scots will and desire. How well they begin, could dictate if it is a real contest or, a procession. France are good, are confident and has fans traveling to Edinburgh who will boost their team’s hopes. Captain Charles Ollivon (see main picture) is having a terrific maiden journey as skipper.
Win again, and a Grand Slam is one game away.
Two women’s games also have an impact on the 2020 Championship. On Saturday, just over the Chertsey Road is the Twickenham Stoop. The England women meet Wales – the first-placed team hoping to carry on their unbeaten run. The leading Northern hemisphere side can all but wrap up another title….unless Wales come out firing.
#WomensSixNations is back in Glasgow next week 🏟️
Scotland return home to Scotstoun Stadium to take on France in a Saturday night fixture. Be there #AsOne to cheer on the team! 🏴
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 26, 2020
Scotland v France women’s games can go either way. The visitors have always been a handful yet, are not consistent. So this match at the Scotstoun Stadium may be one that the home side have a good chance to win.
Having three matches over three days, is probably the perfect ‘rugby weekend’ in Scotland. The party may still be going, well after the men’s feature match on Sunday afternoon.
Under 20 championship opens next weekends schedule
Besides the feature men’s and women’s clashes, the Under 20 schedule is often seen as the perfect appetizer. Playing on Friday, the games have their own fan base, and will be an option for the sports fan who wants an International game to watch.
💥 One week to go 💥
🏴 🏴 England U20s v Wales
📅 Friday, 6 March
📍 Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
⏰ Kick off 19:45 GMT
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 28, 2020
A repeat of the contests of the men and women, England v Wales and Scotland v France is going to see the brightest stars in age-group rugby represent. France will feel confident, however, Scotland includes a big group of young men. They will put everything on the line.
With a full calendar from Friday, Saturday and a classic International SCOvFRA fixture on Sunday, that is certainly a weekend to saviour. And the following weekend offers the final round of challenges for all three competitions.
Note: Interruptions from the global outbreak of the Covid19 virus are still to be determined. Italy v England is still to be decided. Not what fans hope for, but an acknowledgment of player welfare and minimizing the risk to traveling fans.
Postponing matches just places the championship in a form of limbo.
Coronavirus postponement: how does that impact 2020?
The Irish Rugby Union stated that ‘There is a precedent for rescheduling Six Nations fixtures due to health concerns. In 2001, due to the highly contagious livestock foot and mouth outbreak, Ireland had three matches (against Scotland, Wales, and England) rescheduled to September/October of that year.
‘At the time of the postponements, England were one win away from the Grand Slam but lost 20-14 to Ireland when their delayed fixture was eventually played in Dublin.
England did win the 2001 championship title, on points difference. Not to say that will occur in 2020, though if France were to lose both of their final games, and Wales and England each lost one of theirs, then Ireland would [mathematically] be in a place to take this years’ Championship.
But that is all in the future. Games must be played, pints will be drunk and chants will be sung. That is the sentiment of one of the most interesting Six Nations competition in many years.
And the fans will enjoy every minute of it.
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images