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Preview of the Six Nations 2021

Posted on February 4, 2021

Despite the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Six Nations Tournament is starting this weekend. Following the initial postponement of the 2020 Six Nations tournament, there will be strict COVID-19 guidelines in place for every team. The postponement meant a long break last year. Organisers are optimistic with all the precautions in place, the tournament will run smoothly this year.

The return of Six Nations 2021 brings with it the plethora of excitement and anticipation. The top European teams will be competing to see who will be crowned the Six Nations Champions 2021. England begin their defence of their title at Twickenham where they will compete with Scotland for the Calcutta Cup.

For those not in the know, what is the Six Nations Tournament?

The Six Nations Championship is an international rugby tournament with the top 6 European Rugby teams competing for the title. It is contested between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. The tournament was competed in a number of guises prior to the launch of the Six Nations era in 2000. These include the Five Nations Championship and Home Nations Championship.

England are the current champions and hold the record for tournament wins with 29. Since the start of the Six Nations in 2000, only two sides have failed to win the title. These are Italy and Scotland.

Six Nations 2020: A brief recap

The 2020 Six Nations tournament will go down as one of the most historic. The tournament was interrupted and postponed due to COVID-19. When it restarted the tournament went down to the wire as England triumphed in dramatic fashion in the last round.  Eddie Jones’s side were tournament favourites but started off badly losing to France 26-17 in the opening round.  They went on to win their next four games to claim the Six Nations crown.

England beat Wales in the penultimate match narrowly beating them 33-30. They wouldn’t play their final match for another seven months due to COVID. They went on to beat Italy in a crucial bonus point victory to claim the title in the last round.

No team claimed the grand-slam and Italy went away with the dreaded wooden spoon having lost all five of their games.

Where and When to Watch

The 2021 tournament begins behind closed doors with no fans at the stadiums. Many rugby fans will, however, be grateful to watch international rugby on TV. All the games will be shown live on the BBC, ITV or for Welsh viewers on S4C. Make the most of it because it will be the last time all the games will be on terrestrial TV!

Opening Round – February 6th and 7th

Second Round – February 13th and 14th

Third Round – February 27th and 28th

Fourth Round – March 13th and 14th

Final Round – March 20th

Could fans return before the end of the tournament?

2,000 England fans were allowed into Twickenham to watch their side’s last Autumn Nations Cup game. It remains to be seen whether fans will be allowed to watch the latter games of the tournament. Scottish Rugby have said their final matches against Ireland and Italy are ‘under current review.’

Team by Team Guide and players to watch

England

The reigning champions are the favourites to win. This is despite being without five of their leading forwards. There have been issues with a number of their players having to self-isolate last month. Furthermore, none of their players have played for over a month, questioning their match fitness and sharpness. There are questions as to how comfortable they are in possession, in particular when compared against France, or to an extent Scotland. This will be tested in their opening game where they will compete for the Calcutta Cup against their Scottish rivals.

All this aside, they are in a good run of form having won 3 out of the last 5 Six Nations titles. They are favourites for a reason. We are proud to have teamed up with key England player Tom Curry as memorabilia partner. He will be looking to add to his 2020 Six Nations Winning medal!

World Ranking: 2nd

Player to Watch: Owen Farrell.

Form: Good run of form after an impressive Autumn Nations Cup.

Odd to win 2021 Six Nations: Evens

France

The French came second last time around, and also second to England in the Autumn Nations Cup. They had an impressive 2020 winning eight out of their nine matches. There will be pressure to emulate that form coming into 2021. They are missing a few key players including Romain Ntamack and Viremi Vakatawa. Their scrum-half Antoine Dupont was player of the 2020 tournament and remains a key threat. He will have learnt from his red card against Scotland which arguably cost them the tournament.

Les Bleus are a revitalised team and are organised and focused. They will be intent on beating England and are the most likely to take the crown off them.

World Ranking: 4th

Player to Watch: Antoine Dupont

Form: Good run of form. Their B team came close to beating England!

Odd to win 2021 Six Nations: 11/4

Ireland

Last year was about the transition from a side influenced by the tactical tight hold of Joe Schmidt, into something a lot more flexible under Andy Farrell and Mike Catt. Farrell has attempted to add more of a physical presence through with Paul O’Connell as the forward’s coach. This will ensure the lineouts will be more effective for them, giving them a solid advantage.

Farrell will need to decide if he includes the ageing Jonny Sexton and Conor Murray. Many will argue they still have a considerable amount to offer.

World Ranking: 5th

Player to Watch: James Ryan

Form: Strong enough with a healthy injury report.

Odd to win 2021 Six Nations: 7/2

Italy

Coach Franco Smith will be focusing once again on the youngsters. The Italian rugby federation are now paying more attention to the tiers below the international level to improve the quality of players coming through. For once Italy look like they have a plan with a strong roster of coaches employed at most youth levels. This will serve them well in years to come.

This year’s tournament however will be too soon for it make an impact. Star players will include the halfbacks Stephen Varney and Paolo Garbisi. The Italians will miss the points scorer Matteo Minozzi.

World Ranking: 14th

Player to Watch: Paolo Garbisi

Form: They have lost their last five games. In fact they have lost the majority of the games they have played!

Odd to win 2021 Six Nations: 500/1

Scotland

Poor away form has cost them in the past. Empty stadiums might therefore work in their favour this time around. They will be looking forward to an empty Twickenham on the opening day. They have key players coming back, including Finn Russell. The Scots are strong in set pieces although questions remain how they can handle the physicality of the top teams. The strength of their back row is something their opponents will look to capitalise on.

The scrum will be key against England. If they can win the scrums it may just surely set them off to a spectacular start.

World Ranking: 7th

Player to Watch: Finn Russell

Form: They’ll be glad to be playing the injury-savaged England team first and in an empty Twickenham.

Odd to win 2021 Six Nations: 20/1

Wales

The Welsh are a strong pedigree in world rugby but are currently in a mixed state of form. Welsh coach Wayne Pivac current win rate is only 30%. He desperately needs the vocal and passionate Cardiff crowd behind his team. Pivac is relying on the old heads to bolster the team, including Dan Lydiate now in his 34th year. It remains to be seen if some of the veterans who played so well under Gatland, can repeat their excellent feats in this tournament.

Wales opening game is against the Irish who are also in a state of flux. If they can get off to a strong start it will do wonders for their confidence.

World Ranking: 9th

Player to Watch: Josh Adams

Form: Not ideal. They have lost 3 out of their last 5 games.

Odd to win 2021 Six Nations: 12/1

Six Nations: Six Fun Facts

  1. Champaign Trophy – The inside of the trophy used between 1993 and 2015 was originally silver but was replaced with 22-carat gold due to Champagne erosion. They even added a lip around the rim to stop the victorious players drinking from it!
  2. Calcutta Cup – The cup contested between England and Scotland is made out of 50,000 melted down Indian rupees.
  3. 160,547 Pints – When fans will be allowed back in Twickenham they are expected to down around 160,547 pints per match!
  4. Irish Flair – Since the start of the Player of the Tournament award in 2004, Irish players have claimed the most wins with seven. Next best is Wales with five.
  5. Highest Points – Jonny Wilkinson holds the record for most points scored in a single match. He scored an impressive 35 points when England thrashed Italy 80-25 in 2001.
  6. Most Tries – Brian O’Driscoll scored 26 Six Nation tries for Ireland during his 15-year spell of playing in the tournaments.

With or without fans in the stadium, it will sure to be a tournament to remember. Shop our Six Nations Collection at Firma Stella.