Friday, 6 February 2009

It's nearly here...

It's that time of year again. The RBS Six Nations Championship. 5 weeks, fifteen (hopefully) great matches and the opportunity for me to make a complete @rse of myself by predicting a Scottish Grand Slam only for a wooden spoon to beckon for the boys in dark blue.

I exaggerate slightly (or do I - last year's predictions were pretty awful) but for some reason when Six Nations time rolls round I abandon my conservative-leaning, pessimistic-Scot "we're all doomed" predictions of disaster and embarrassment in favour of a much more optimistic, we're-full-of-potential-we-could-do-anything kind of attitude. And then, inevitably, I end up embarrassing myself for having confidence in our boys to actually fulfill that potential and looking like an idiot when Italy run in three tries in seven minutes and go on to thump us at Murrayfield (don't look at me like that - that actually happened!).

So where do I end up this year? Well... to be honest, I'm not one for learning from my mistakes all that quickly. I still believe that the Scottish boys have the potential makings of a good side. Up front we have a much stronger and fitter pack than we've had in recent years (though the loss of Euan Murray at prop for the first game will be a big miss) and even, dare I say it, the backline looks... if not amazing, then certainly pretty decent. I'd like to see Thom Evans get a run in the side, I'm glad Hugo Southwell is in at fullback... and I'm equally delighted that the only way Dan Parks will be anywhere near Murrayfield on Sunday is if he buys a ticket to the game.

But the level that we're playing at only takes us so far - we have to factor in the opposition. England have a strange, strange line up this week (dropping Cipriani, recalling Andy Goode to 10 and starting Harry Ellis - who was suspended for six weeks) and are fairly inconsistent and unsettled. France look like a good bet for the trophy, though they'll have to be good to beat Ireland in Dublin on Saturday. Ireland, well, like Scotland, plenty potential - but for me that potential has never been fully realised, and they are ageing in key positions (O'Driscoll, O'Gara and O'Connell) while Italy have a flanker playing at scrum half for goodness sake. Wales are everyone's favourites to retain the trophy and they have a settled side who know what the plan is and just have to execute. I think they might have a down year... but that's just a guess more than anything. I think for sure though, no Grand Slam this year, but the French might sneak it on points difference... maybe from England?

The banter has been great on this Facebook group - so if you have Facebook and like rugby, I'd suggest you join.

Finally, predictions for the first weekend:
England 29 Italy 15
Ireland 17 France 23
Scotland 22 Wales 24

I hope I'm wrong, and that a win for Scotland warms up what will undoubtedly be a fairly chilly Murrayfield on Sunday.


Sam 6 February 2009 at 19:58  

I've said more than enough on that group!

I'll stick to my predictions for this weekend:

England 23 Italy 11
Ireland 33 France 23
Scotland 8 Wales 27

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