HOW ARE THINGS LOOKING FOR EACH NATION?
With the rest weekend done, we are now entering into the business end of the Six Nations. So, we asked six rugby fans from across CSM to give us their take on how their nation has fared so far in this year’s tournament. First up, Scotland. Will this be their year?
Alexander Hannah, Account Manager – Scotland
After the high of securing the Calcutta Cup, Scotland rumbled on to the Principality to supposedly face the worst Welsh side for years, and in typical Scotland fashion we chucked it away. We just don’t win in Cardiff.
Darcy Graham has been the stand-out player for us so far this championship, his pace and agility is the perfect counter-balance to the battering ram that is Duhan Van der Merwe on the opposite wing.
It’s France next up, and we’re going to need to be firing if we’re to beat them. I do fancy our chances though, Finn Russell will have his swagger back playing against familiar foes from the domestic game and that might just make him tick.
And anyway, if we don’t win the Championship –at least England aren’t going to either.
Jade Wood, Group Marketing and Events Manager – England
A tense start to this year’s Championship for Eddie Jones’ side. Despite our dominance in possession, Scotland’s defence remained strong and with a team not at full-strength, we couldn’t quite do what was needed to clinch the win. Rising star Marcus Smith didn’t fail to impress in those first 60 minutes, and has since been described by Jones as having ‘limitless’ potential…so it’s no surprise fans are questioning his substitution. Would we have secured Calcutta Cup victory if he’d stayed on?
It’s still all to play for after a bonus-point winning triumph against Italy, and the upcoming showdown against the reigning champs will certainly be one to watch. Confidence will be high in the England camp, with Tuilagi back in training and raring to go, facing a new captain and a less experienced Wales squad.
Then to the final two. We’re expecting two tough games, which will be decided by fine margins – especially with Les Bleus going for the Grand Slam.
Some may question Jones’s decision-making throughout this Championship, but this “New England” side is certainly an exciting one, with the likes of Harry Randall and Freddie Steward coming through the ranks. Wherever we finish here, I wouldn’t underestimate this squad going into 2023.
Miguel Fernandez, Director – France
Forest Gump said: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’re gonna get”.
Well, that has been the case with the French rugby team over the last two decades. On the eve of a big match or a big competition, it has been hard to predict what the chocolate in the box would taste like.
But then came this current generation of players; world champions at U20 level twice in a row, and now marshalled expertly by the majestic Antoine Dupont. He’s an athlete we know well at CSM, elected best player in the world in 2021!
There’s a new staff too, which, little by little, is putting in place a system of rugby that plays to the strength of its squad.
So, with a World Cup that will be played on home soil in 2023, us French are starting to dream. Even if, once again, the French team alternates between the less good – against Italy – and the sublime against Ireland.
Can I offer you a chocolate?
Pictured below left to right: Alexander Hannah, Jade Wood, Miguel Fernandez.
Aled Rees, Managing Director, Strategy & Insights – Wales
Famous Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, once wrote….
”To begin at the beginning:
It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobble
streets silent and the hunched, courters’ and rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to
the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.”
It perfectly conveys the feeling of dread that we Welsh rugby supporters had after the humiliation in Dublin. First and foremost, Ireland were incredible and of course which team would not suffer with the loss of eight Lions, especially Alun Wyn Jones our imperious captain! Sadly a far greater problem lies in the crumbling foundations of the game in Wales at grassroots, club and regional level. You only have to witness the struggles of our U-20s to realise that behind an outstanding group of players who have been so dominant lies a dearth of future talent.
Nonetheless, a win at home to Scotland, in a much better performance, has at least raised the spirits. An unlikely win over England and national euphoria would return! Perhaps this other poem from Dylan Thomas is more apt….
”Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Rob O’Leary, Senior Communications Manager – Ireland
There are three things Ireland are particularly brilliant at; playing rugby, talking about rugby and winning at rugby. After the Emerald Isle’s impressive win over the Welsh, a hint of optimism around the 2022 Guinness Six Nations was in the air.
Of course I would not be one to get to far ahead of myself in regards what this Irish team is capable of, but there is no denying that Ireland’s performance against Wales showed that we mean business this year.
Although the score line was impressive, I believe there will be some frustration in camp as there were opportunities missed. Focusing on the positives, the impact of Mack Hansen is like something out of a film on Netflix. Mack’s Irish parents moved to Oz 50 years ago and now at 23 years of age, he is starring for Connaught and on his Irish debut received the man-of-the-match award – the stuff of dreams!
When I said Ireland are brilliant at winning, I didn’t mean all the time… Our defeat in Paris was a tough blow to take but the show goes on. Focusing on the positives, Joey Carberry felt right at home coming in as a last-minute change for Johnny Sexton while Hansen was in is happy place again in the green jersey scoring a jaw-dropping try after catching out the French during nap time (it’s a pity they woke up).
All eyes will be on the Aviva stadium on Feb 27th when the Italian’s come to town and the Irish will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Roberta Casalino, Senior Account Director – Italy
Veni Vidi Vici clearly wasn’t the case in our first game, when Italy took on Les Bleus in Paris and were sadly defeated 37-10. Unfortunately, it was much the same against England in Rome a week later, although a stronger second half showing displayed some much needed resilience.
The ill-mouthed will question whether Italy should even take part in the competition (our last win was back in 2015), and the news about South Africa joining the tournament is unsettling. But let’s be honest… we all know team sports are not the same with the Azzurri!
On a positive note, just about all we can say after the not so grand performance sadly, is that Italy’s Tommaso Menocello has become the youngest Championship try scorer since 1967! We mustn’t lose hope and we will continue to chant ‘Forza Azzurri’ in Dublin!
Pictured below left to right: Aled Rees, Robert O’leary, Roberta Casalino.