It’s time for one of the genuine highlights of the sporting calender because tomorrow, dear reader, the international egg-chasers take centre stage as the 6 Nations begins. Place your bets.
As always England will be the team to beat. Ehem, moving swiftly on …
Defending champions Ireland will be strong strong strong. Captain Brian O’Driscoll was long ago acknowledged one of the greats and he gets better each year. If his unbelievable physical commitment doesn’t see him crocked they can score from anywhere. With Gordon D’Arcy back to his best, the warrior John Hayes still pounding away at tighthead, Stephen Ferris at blindside, Tommy Bowe finishing as sharp as anyone and Rob Kearney at full back, Ireland might well retain their title. Tomorow Italy’s pack might inflict some pain but it’s trips to Twickenham and Paris that may undo them.
Wales have a top team and the hwyl will burn, but their front row has lost Martin Rees and inspirational prop Gethin Jenkins. That’s why they’ll lose to England at Twickenham tomorrow. France will be France – stuffed with talent but unpredictable. Toulouse and Stade Francais are flying however and their confidence can’t be as fragile as it often is when they pull on the blue shirts. The Jocks are the Jocks, they might cause an upset somewhere.
Prediction: France to win the championship, Ireland, Wales and England to fill the next three places in any order, then Scotland and Italy in fifth and sixth, but in truth I have no idea because this is a hugely unpredictable year.