So what makes the Six Nations so special? Well firstly it happens annually, no four year wait as with the World Cup to redeem poor performances and what could have beens. Secondly the Six Nations is a fiercely competed tournament between some of the most traditional and long standing rivalries in Rugby – England Vs Wales, Wales Vs Ireland, Scotland Vs Wales, Ireland Vs Scotland, England Vs France, France Vs Italy…. You get the picture – every game will be ferociously contested, physical and brimming with passion.
Here is a quick low down as to how the teams shape up and some key faces to watch out for, highlighting the stats for each captain of the six international teams. We have also provided an example of how to wear your teams strip in style whether you’re heading to the stadium or going down to your local.
The team with a point to prove. After such a poor performance as host nation to the World Cup, the England camp has seen some major changes in the run up to the Six Nations Championship. Most notably the appointment of Eddie Jones as head coach and the inevitably debate invoking captaincy choice of Dylan Hartley. Famed for his on pitch temper Hartley is undoubtedly a risk for Jones but channelled correctly, his passion could be the lift that this England team need. England will kick off their campaign facing Scotland on Saturday 6th, Kick off – 16:50.
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So what about England’s Saturday challengers? In competitions gone by Scotland may have been seen as an expected win, but with captain Laidlaw steering the troops in recent years they have developed into an ever physical team but with the skill and game management to rival any team in the Six Nations tournament. A particularly emotional exit to the World Cup saw Scotland nearly pip Australia, a tough loss to take but one that can only stand to spur them on to success in the Six Nations. Saturday’s game known as the Calcutta Cup promises to be explosive.
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After Wales impressive world cup campaign it is no surprise to see little changes within their squad. Dan Biggar – of Bigarena fame in the world cup (a title coined from his uncomfortable routine of twitches and touches that he performs before spot kicking), is the man in serious form right now. His game management and kicking game must be nullified by opposing teams if they are to see any success against the Welsh team. Wales have developed into a team offering everything that a rugby statistician would love to possess in is armoury – a solid set piece, peak fitness and physicality, game control and big powerful backs. Watch out for George North this tournament – after a quiet spell in the game after a number of concussions, North will look to hit the big stage with a bang.
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Ireland shape up with a mix of experience and youth with key positions held by seasoned players like Murray, Kearney, Heaslip and captained by 46 cap holding Rory Best. Throw into that exciting uncapped players including Dillane, Furlong and Herring and we are sure to see what is always an exciting team play with the composure and game control that has seen them hit considerable success over recent competitions.
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After a disappointing World Cup campaign for France they too will look to prove something in this years Six Nations competition. Noves has included 4 debutants in his starting squad which certainly looks to add a freshness to the team whilst helmed by the man mountain that is Picamoles. After the recent news that Thierry Dusautoir has retired from international rugby, a new captain has been appointed by the new manager. Dusatutoir, the previous flanker and captain, scored six tries in 80 caps and led the national side a record 56 times, including to the 2011 World Cup final so you could say Guirado has some big boots to fill. France will begin the tournament playing Italy on Saturday 6th, Kick off – 14:25.
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Consistently dubbed the underdogs of the competition, Italy are still a team not to be taken lightly. A solid foundation of players including Castrogiovanni gives the Italians a strong scrum which could make things difficult for the opposing French side when the face up on Saturday. Kelly Haimona has seen glimpses of a really exciting style of Italian play in the past with his enormous kicking game, physicality (107KG is a weighty fly half!) and his slick hands – expect to see more from Haimona this tournament as he looks to cement his place as a top stand-off in world rugby. The Captain, Sergio Parisse will earn his 115th cap at No 8 to pull level with Castrogiovanni, who is Italy’s most-capped player.
Let us know which team you support other than your home nation by tweeting us @woodhousetweets. If you liked the style inspiration to go with your teams strip, don’t forget you can keep up with all the latest trends on our blog or have a look at our new SS16 collections yourself.