Six Nations 2021
As the world continues to navigate its way through the pandemic that is COVID-19, the return to sports has been a haphazard one. Sporting bodies and Joe Public have had to reassess how we deliver and view sporting events. Since the return to sports, there have been various strategies employed to ensure player safety. Player exclusion methods such as the ‘bubble’ approach and playing in front of empty stadiums are just some of the measures adopted. The Guinness Six Nations 2021 is no different. Home ground advantage seems like a bit of a fallacy without the various fans being present. Nonetheless, we can be thankful that the tournament is happening and what a cracker it is turning out to be!
2020 champions England are hoping to make it back-to-back victories in the tournament. While France hope to go one step further than their 2nd place finish in 2020. The 2020 showcase was a strange one in that due to COVID-19, the last round of matches was played in October. With the tournament originally scheduled to conclude on the 14th March. Therefore with essentially only a 3-month break between the 2020 and 2021 tournaments, one would feel that there shouldn’t be too many surprises as to who the main contenders will be this time around.
Six Nations 2021 teams
The 6 Nations tournament pits the might of the United Kingdom (in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) up against the flair of the French and the perennial wooden spooners Italy. Scotland and Italy are the only 2 nations who haven’t won the 6 Nations format which was established in 2000 when Italy joined. While there is no reason to believe Italy could mount a challenge, the Scots come off a successful 2020 tournament. And thus should be upbeat about their chances (only losing to Ireland and England).
Ireland seem to have come off the boil the past few seasons, last winning in 2018. The Welsh have also struggled to find their 2019 form when they were victors. The youthful French team who lost out on points difference in 2020 will believe that they are capable of winning. While the pressure will sit firmly with England. The form team of the past few years, England, will have to deliver some strong performances to keep top spot in 2021.
2021 Six Nations tournament so far
After 2 rounds of the 2021 edition, only Wales and France remain unbeaten. Wales can consider themselves lucky to an extent. Both of their victories against Ireland and Scotland came against teams reduced to 14 men for red card offences. Teams must ride their luck though, and the Welsh now have the momentum that winning brings. Alun Wyn Jones and his team will no doubt have begun to believe that they can make a success of this year’s tournament. The French have not won since 2010 and will feel that this is their year. Last year’s runners up were clinical against Italy, and subsequently put away the Irish in Dublin in their second game. If they can avoid the inconsistencies stereotypical of French rugby, then they are strong contenders for the title.
Going into the 2021 six nations tournament as favourites, England were beaten by a passionate Scottish team in their first game. Winning against their arch-rivals at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 was a big result for the plucky Scots. Losing a tight affair to Wales in their second game would have been a disappointing result for the men from the north. How they bounce back will ultimately decide where they finish on the log. As expected, England bounced back with a resounding victory against Italy in their second game. They will still have their sights firmly set on winning the tournament. Beating France and Wales will go a long way in achieving this, but can it be done?
The Irish & The Italians
The Irish, without a win and still trying to find their feet under new coach Andy Farrell, will really just be focused on finding their cohesion. And hopefully squeezing out a win or two along the way. They must use this tournament as a building phase for the next period of Irish rugby. They will ultimately be looking to go one up on the achievements realised under previous coach Joe Schmidt. Which is no easy task by any measure.
Speaking of difficulties, the Italians find themselves in an all too familiar position at the bottom of the log. Comprehensively beaten by both France and England, Italy will do well to avoid the bottom of the table yet again. It is hard to envision who the current Italian team could target a win against. Staying competitive for longer in games may have to be their only realistic goal for this year’s 6 Nations 2021.
While all the teams will be aiming for success, the eventual victors will come from a smaller pool. Italy will do well to win a game, which may not be achievable this year. Ireland are trying to find their identity again and are firmly in the building phase. They are mid-table finishers at best. Wales’s results have been fortuitous thus far- their victories have been unconvincing. A mid-table finish is easy to believe for them. That leaves England, France, and Scotland. A third-place finish would be a great result for the Scots. While they are surely hoping for more, third may be as far as they can go this year. One must feel that the matchup between England and France will be the decider. Whoever manages to win that encounter on March 13th will most likely have one hand firmly on the trophy.
Whichever way the results go, one thing is certain. Having regular sport being played again is a privilege the world won’t take for granted again in a hurry. The Guinness 6 Nations kicks off the international rugby scene for the year. And if the games played so far are an indication of the standard for the rest of the year, 2021 will be an exciting one indeed.
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