The ultimate Six Nations desk confirmed Eire and France are manner out in entrance of the opposition, Scotland are getting into the best route, and England are within the backside tier with Wales and Italy.
We’ve got seen some good rugby and now the main target turns to the World Cup later this yr. Right here is my Six Nations overview and the place I see the Northern Hemisphere groups going into the worldwide showpiece.
Steve Borthwick and his crew have a lot work to do. The Six Nations has been a giant actuality verify and confirmed how far England are behind Eire and France.
However it’s not too late for England to compete on the World Cup and the principle purpose I say that’s as a result of they’re in the best aspect of the draw. Realistically, England should beat Argentina to high their pool after which both Australia or Wales to achieve a semi-final.
That’s eminently achievable. Nonetheless, to take action England must get their star gamers again to their finest. That didn’t occur within the Six Nations.
England captain Owen Farrell (left) caught up together with his dad Andy after England’s loss to Eire
It was a disappointing marketing campaign for brand spanking new boss Steve Borthwick after they completed fourth
Maro Itoje is a talisman for England however he had a really poor event. It’s superb how good a coach you might be when your finest gamers are going properly.
That’s not the case with England proper now. Borthwick may have a variety of pondering to do within the coming weeks and months. He has had a steep studying curve in his first marketing campaign in cost however he shall be all the higher for it, even when he doesn’t really feel it proper now.
England are in the beginning of a rebuilding section and it’s uncommon now for a global coach to come back in and begin profitable immediately. Eddie Jones did it with England, however as a much more skilled coach and at a time when all groups have been ‘beginning once more’ after the 2015 World Cup.
However should you have a look at Eire, even that they had a couple of struggles when Andy Farrell first took over. I’m positive the jury will nonetheless be out for a lot of on Borthwick. However I consider he’s the best man for the job and can get England firing.
The entire of English rugby actually must get behind him. I consider he’ll double down on the fundamentals and nailing the set piece. His greatest studying curve may have been in choice and getting one of the best gamers of their finest positions.
We might not see an all-court recreation from England for some time, but when Borthwick can get the England pack snarling and open their eyes to the chance they’ve this autumn, there’s an thrilling yr forward.
He’ll know the France hammering at Twickenham was unacceptable. However England put delight again within the shirt in Dublin, even when it was not sufficient to cease an Irish Grand Slam.
An enormous a part of the development we noticed on the Aviva Stadium was right down to Owen Farrell, whose management offered readability for the crew that was badly lacking in opposition to France.
Eire deserved to win a Grand Slam. They’re the top-ranked crew on the planet and confirmed that by sweeping all earlier than them on this Six Nations. It has been an extremely aggressive Championship — probably the most aggressive I can keep in mind for years — so for Eire to win all 5 video games, 4 with bonus factors, reveals how good they’re.
I’m happy for Eire and Farrell, and Johnny Sexton particularly as a result of they deserve all of the accolades coming their manner. However now comes the actually fascinating half. Eire confirmed they’re a formidable aspect lengthy earlier than this Six Nations by profitable their tour in New Zealand.
Johnny Sexton helped Eire safe the grand slam and have become the Six Nation’s all-time main factors scorer
Eire have been a dominant power all through profitable all 5 of their video games together with France
Nevertheless it stays the case they’ve by no means gained a knockout recreation at a World Cup. Eire have been rightly accused of peaking between World Cups up to now and I believe that has been a good remark.
They misplaced to hosts Japan within the final event. 4 years later, I believe Eire, France and South Africa are joint favourites for the 2023 competitors.
I used to be speaking to Brian O’Driscoll about this after the sport in Dublin on the weekend and I advised him Eire must stroll forwards with their chests puffed out and embrace the stress and expectation of being world No 1.
They will’t see it as a burden. Eire have a world-class coach and world-class gamers from one to fifteen. They’ve proved they will beat any crew, wherever. Now, they have to present it on the World Cup —though in contrast to England, their draw could be very difficult.
The sport in France is prospering and the nationwide aspect are taking part in very good rugby. The attacking verve confirmed by Les Bleus of their demolition of England and win over Wales was a pleasure to observe.
The match between them and Eire in Dublin was of absolutely the highest high quality. I preferred France head coach Fabien Galthie’s feedback this weekend. ‘I hope groups are fearful of us now. We’re definitely the crew to beat,’ mentioned Galthie after beating Wales.
I’m not satisfied Eire would have gained in Paris if that they had performed there this yr. To say ‘we’re the crew to beat’, regardless of Eire taking the Grand Slam reveals France are assured going into the World Cup — as they need to be — but additionally that they’ve the best mentality to embrace the stress.
Because the host nation, there shall be enormous expectation to ship a primary World Cup. That is the mindset any crew critical about profitable the World Cup must embrace. Doing so is one thing they’re completely able to. The French backline with Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, Gael Fickou and Damian Penaud is extraordinary. It will possibly reduce a defence to ribbons with ease, as England noticed.
The French in the meantime additionally look a harmful power forward of the 2023 World Cup on residence soil
Regardless of ending second, the French crew dazzled particularly of their landslide win vs England
What set Eire and France aside from the remainder was their capacity to play with a tempo their opposition couldn’t dwell with. Scotland are usually not at that degree but, however they’re getting nearer.
To complete third was spectacular. Gregor Townsend has loads of velocity in his crew and now the on-off Finn Russell saga has been sorted out, there’s a stability to the aspect.
Scotland at their finest can beat anybody. However when Russell and Stuart Hogg have been absent on the weekend, they struggled in opposition to Italy. Scotland are in the identical pool as Eire and South Africa.
There may be each likelihood they might not make the knockout phases, which might be robust to take given the progress and talent of their crew. I hope they take it to either side with attacking intent and be the wild card.
Gregor Townsend has a lot of velocity in his aspect and on their day is usually a harmful opponent
However Warren Gatland (proper) had a troublesome return to the Welsh aspect through the event
Warren Gatland has had a critically robust return. You don’t want distractions and Gatland has had tens of millions of them. Welsh rugby has needed to cope with sexism allegations, a participant strike risk, and all types of contractual and monetary points. And that’s earlier than you speak about Wales’ on-field issues.
They may enhance going into the World Cup however at this stage I can’t see Wales making a World Cup semi-final as they did in 2019, although that largely will depend on the development England make. Even a vastly improved England wouldn’t fancy assembly them in a quarter-final.
Kieran Crowley has undoubtedly improved Italy. Their assault is able to inflicting any crew issues. We noticed them bother each Eire and France at instances. Equally essential, Italy now don’t leak a lot of factors in defence.
They’re displaying indicators of progress however for all of the above, Italy’s 2023 Six Nations was worse than 2022. Their subsequent problem is to transform a few of their slim losses into wins.