Six Nations Rugby | Guinness Six Nations launch: what we learned
The official launch of Guinness Six Nations gave us a look at the inner workings of the six teams, with the head coach and captain or vice-captain of each of the teams from England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales face the world press on Wednesday. .
Here’s what we learned from a busy day.
Farrell wants Ireland to improve
Ireland have won their last eight Test matches but head coach Andy Farrell won’t rest on his laurels and says they must take the next step if they are to compete for the Championship.
Ireland beat New Zealand in the Autumn Nations Series and England in Round 5 of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations and Farrell now has ideas on how they can improve.
“We will learn a lot about ourselves. The Guinness Six Nations always runs its own course and it’s unpredictable, but it’s where you want to be.
Carbery cut and can’t wait to go
Ireland fly-half Joey Carbery was a surprise in Andy Farrell’s squad after suffering an elbow injury before Christmas.
But Farrell insists the Munster ace has made a full recovery and is available for his first league campaign in three years.
“Joey is as fit as a fiddle. He kept himself fit and has now been cleared for contact training.
Garbisi ready to take the next step
Over the past two years Paolo Garbisi has established himself as one of Europe’s best fly-halfs, and head coach Kieran Crowley believes his move to Montpellier last summer has only helped that. development.
The 21-year-old overtook Handre Pollard in the Top 14 pecking order, with Crowley comparing him to Sergio Parisse by becoming first-choice at such a young age in France.
Two years into his international career, Garbisi has already shown he can thrive at the highest level for the Azzurri.
Importance of Uruguay’s success for Italy
A 16-game losing streak ended for Italy in the Autumn Nations Series when they got the better of Uruguay in Parma.
Crowley admitted the performance was far from what her team is capable of producing, but is confident she can use it as a springboard.
He said: “We had a win and I don’t care how you get a win, if you get a win it’s a win. It’s the rugby test match.
“Even though the performance wasn’t great, we have to use this result as a stepping stone. There are new players now. Hopefully we can use the knowledge of a win against Uruguay to move forward now.
Hope for a return for Dupont and the others
France have started their preparation for the Guinness Six Nations without a number of key players including captain Antoine Dupont due to Covid.
But coach Fabien Galthié has given a promising update on their chances of returning as soon as possible.
Provided the players pass their final round of tests and return negative results, they could join the squad on Sunday and be in contention for the opener against Italy.
On Dupont, Galthié said: “I spoke to him, he is fine. He has been back in training for two weeks but then tested positive for Covid. He has a test today and depending on the results he could play for Toulouse this weekend. It’s up to his trainer Ugo Mola to decide.
France’s ambition is to make it a third chance
Under Galthié, France have twice finished second in the Guinness Six Nations, but the ambition is to succeed the third time.
Galthié has made no secret of the team’s ambitions, especially after the resounding victory against New Zealand in the autumn Nations Cup which should give the team a lot of confidence.
While Galthié admitted this year’s championship promises to be tougher than it has ever been, he insists France’s aim is to win the competition for the first time since 2010.
He said: “Our ambition is to win our games and win the competition.”
Owen Farrell expelled from Guinness Six Nations
Eddie Jones will oversee his seventh championship in charge without his captain after Owen Farrell was ruled out with an ankle injury.
The 30-year-old suffered an ankle injury while training with Saracens last week and underwent surgery on Wednesday, with an estimated recovery time of eight to 10 weeks.
Jones eyes new partnership in midfield
England have no shortage of options to replace Farrell and Jones admits he is considering moving Henry Slade inside the center to match Marcus Smith.
Smith is set to start the Championship as an England fly-half and Jones believes he needs experience outside of himself.
“It’s important for any 10 in the world, whether it’s Smith, whether it’s Finn Russell or Ntamack for France, it’s important for the 12 to be a good communicator and relieve some of the pressure of the 10, while giving good information and helping in the defense role.
Calcutta Cup opener gives Scotland extra boost
The start of a new Guinness Six Nations brings enough anticipation on its own, but add a Calcutta Cup clash in the first round and the excitement reaches fever pitch.
Scotland currently hold the famous old trophy after their first win at Twickenham since 1983 in the 2021 Championship and Gregor Townsend was happy to admit the game brings some spice to the opening weekend.
“We know this is the biggest game we face, such a historic game,” said the Scotland head coach. “We are playing for a historic trophy and he is 151 now this game. Having him first adds a buzz around the Six Nations.
Hogg is hypnotized by Marcus Smith’s trickery
The news that Round 1 foes England will be without skipper Owen Farrell for the duration of the Championship could be seen as a boost for Scotland, but Stuart Hogg does not expect that. Eddie Jones’ men miss a beat with Marcus Smith at No.10.
Smith played for Harlequins against Hogg’s Exeter Chiefs earlier this month, with Quins triumphing 14-12 that day, and the Scotland full-back was mesmerized by the young fly-half.
“Look, I think that’s an exciting talent, a really exciting talent,” Hogg explained. “We [Exeter Chiefs] played against him a few weeks ago and sometimes he would wave to me with his eyes and hands what he was going to do.
“He put me left, right and Chelsea, so I didn’t know where I was going! He is a quality player and will undoubtedly have a big impact on England’s performance this campaign.
Wales misses 700 selections of experience but a spectacular return of the AWJ on the cards?
Missing at least 680 international caps of experience through injury is far from an ideal situation for defending champions Wales, but head coach Wayne Pivac wants his young talents to seize the opportunity .
Talismanic captain Alun Wyn Jones and veteran stars George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Ken Owens, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau are among the high-profile absentees, but Pivac doesn’t want an apology.
“Talking about the lack of experience in the team, I think in the French game [in 2021] we had over 1,000 caps and we lost 680, which is huge,” Pivac said. “They’re a fairly inexperienced group compared to the Six Nations but what an opportunity.”
Pivac also refused to completely rule out skipper Jones for the entire Championship – citing his previous Lazarus-like recovery abilities to return to last summer’s Lions tour as inspiration.
“Never say never,” Pivac added of Jones’ potential return. “I probably wouldn’t get into the conversation if it was someone else to be completely honest but the guy broke so many records. Honestly I say I would never say never but it will be long, let’s just say that.
A budding bromance between Biggar and Sexton?
There appears to be a budding bromance between Dan Biggar and Johnny Sexton – who face off in the first round in Dublin – with Sexton saying earlier this week he thought Biggar was a good date as Country captain of Wales, before joking that referees should be careful.
The frivolities continued on the main stage during the launch, with both men jovially acknowledging their habit of putting themselves in the ears of officials on the pitch.
The two fly-halfs first connected during the 2017 Lions tour and Biggar revealed the enduring affection they have for each other.
“The respect for Johnny has been there since day one. The way he came into the Ireland and Leinster squad and the success he had with both, it’s very hard not to respect him. — even if you don’t like it,” Biggar smiled.
“But, from my side, I got on very, very well with him in 2017 and I kept in touch with him from time to time about milestones and accomplishments and bits like that.
“You learn a lot more about people outside of a rugby environment and I found Johnny to be a really good person to get along with. I think we’re similar characters too.