A preview of the Northern Hemisphere’s premier rugby union competition, the Six Nations, with fanatix looking at which country will win and why.
There is little doubt who goes into the 2014 tournament as the red-hot favourites, with the Welsh team earning the moniker of the best team in the Northern Hemisphere in each of the past two years.
After two successive Six Nations titles and a 2011 World Cup semi-final appearance, Wales will create rugby history if they win for the third season in a row, and it is hard to bet against them.
Head coach Warren Gatland is back at the helm after missing last year’s Six Nations while he concentrated on British and Irish Lions business, and provided that injuries do not take a toll – and Welsh rugby’s prolonged political battles are kept at arm’s length – Wales can build another successful campaign.
England will be looking to bounce back from their horror loss in 2013 to the Welsh in the last round of the championships.
Injuries will deny them the services of game-breakers like Manu Tuilagi, Marland Yarde and Tom Croft, but the side will have the likes of Bath fly-half George Ford, Gloucester back Jonny May, Exeter wing Jack Nowell and another brilliant Bath talent in Anthony Watson to call upon.
After pushing world champions New Zealand to the limit just two months ago, Ireland face an uphill task in this year’s Six Nations, and should finish third, due in part to their tough draw early on.
Scotland’s best chance of winning this year will come in the form of their home games against England and Italy, apart from that, it looks set to be another year attempting to avoid the wooden spoon.
France, for all of their star power on paper, finished a shocking last in 2013, thanks to their lone win, a draw and five losses, and 2014 only promises a marginally better result.
Meaning Italy will finish last again, thanks in part to their poor record since joining the competition, with the the Azzurri dropping 58 of their 69 championship games.
The RBS 6 Nations championships are now just over a week away and fans are doing everything then can to get hold of tickets for Six Nations fixtures including England’s home matches at Twickenham against Ireland on February 22nd and Wales on March 9th.