2021 Guinness Six Nations Preview
Little more than three months on from the conclusion of the last tournament, Europe’s finest will once again go head to head when the 2021 Guinness Six Nations kicks off on Saturday 6 February.
Last time out England were the winners in what proved to be the most bizarre year in the tournament’s history. After being cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic at the fourth round stage back in March, the tournament was not completed until the final day of October. Even then, the outcome of the tournament remained controversial, with England winning in part due to a losing bonus point earned against France on the opening weekend.
This time around everybody is hoping for a significantly smoother Six Nations. With that said, the fact that there is unlikely to be any fans present is sure to have an impact, though most of us are just grateful for some international rugby to enjoy.
In this article, we will take a look at how each of the sides in this year’s Six Nations tournament are shaping up and what their chances of winning look like.
Let’s get started with a look at reigning champions and this year’s favourites, England ...
England (150 anniversary year for England Rugby 1871 - 2021)
Off the back of their victory in last year’s tournament in October and the subsequent Autumn Nations Cup win in December, Eddie Jones’ England side go into the 2021 Guinness Six Nations as rightful favourites.
Having just announced the starting XV for this weekend’s Calcutta Cup, which consists a mix of experience and youth, England will be tough to dethrone in this year’s tournament. Certainly, world-class players such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Mako Vunipola all look set to feature heavily. With that said, this is a team that has seen their preparations for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations hit hard by COVID-19. Head Coach Eddie Jones missed the start of the training camp along with two other coaches due to self-isolation, whilst the squad itself has been trimmed down to 28 to keep risk to a minimum. Odds to win: 11-10
Touted as England’s main rivals in this year’s tournament, France came close to their first win since 2010’s Grand Slam last time out.
Seen by many as a team still in transition from that golden era, France boast a youthful set-up littered with mercurial talent such as Antoine Dupont, the scrum-half who lit up last year’s tournament.
If Les Bleus are to challenge for the title this time around, they will have to do so without fly-half Romain Ntamack, who will be injured for the duration of the tournament. Odds to win: 5-2
After losing to England in last year’s final Six Nations game in October, Andy Farrell’s Ireland side went on to lose to Georgia before finally picking up a win against Scotland to finish third in the Autumn Nations Cup in December.
Though perhaps not as potent as in previous years, Ireland remain a threat to every team in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations. With exciting wing James Lowe set to feature, they will need their big guns firing from the off with a tough opening fixture versus Wales on Sunday 7 February. Odds to win: 7-2
After a below-par showing in 2020, Wales will certainly be looking to put things right in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations. Coach Wayne Pivac is confident that his team have what it takes to pull off a surprise win and in classy scrum-half Tomos Williams, Wales have one of the tournament’s most exciting players. Odds to win: 12-1
There will be plenty of pressure on star-man Finn Russell as Scotland look to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish in the Guinness Six Nations. Fit again after a lengthy lay-off, the Racing 92 fly-half will look to stake a claim for a spot on the upcoming Lions tour during this year’s tournament. Odds to win: 20-1
For the Italian side, the focus will be on bettering their glum tally of zero points in last year’s iteration.
With legendary number 8 Sergio Parisse set to retire at the end of this year’s tournament, Italy will be more determined than ever to get some points on the board. Surely, the game at home to Wales will be one they have earmarked, as well as the trip to Edinburgh.
All eyes will be on exciting young prospect Paolo Garbisi, the 20 year-old fly-half upon whom many have pinned Italy’s hopes for the next decade. Odds to win: 500-1
Whatever the outcome, this annual showdown of northern hemisphere rugby is unlikely to disappoint
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