We are only a few days away from the start of this seasons Six Nations so now is the perfect time to have a look at the teams involved and where we think that they will be placed when the competition comes to a close in March.
As well as giving you a brief run down on the teams, we will also take a look at an individual player from each country whom we think will play a big part for his team. With the British & Irish Lions tour coming up later this year, players from four of the six nations will be looking to impress the selectors on the international stage.
The Red Rose is on a high after the win against New Zealand in the Autumn Internationals so hopefully this will be taken in to the up and coming Six Nations. England ran Wales close in last years competition so we expect to see them in with a shout of winning it this year. Unfortunately we can only see it being an unlucky 2nd place again.
Young London Wasps second-row Joe Launchbury burst on to the international rugby scene during the Autumn Internationals and will be looking to add to his growing reputation during the tournament.
Although most French teams now include a mix of players from around the world, you can’t underestimate the importance of the local players that they have in their sides. For example, Clermont Auvergne have the Fofana/Rougerie centre partnership that has to date worked at club and country level. France are our favourites for the 2013 crown.
Louis Picamoles is currently regarded as one of the best number 8’s in the northern hemisphere and is sure to help put his side on the front foot with his powerful runs off the base of the scrum.
England and France both visit the Aviva Stadium this year so the Ireland players will be doing all that they can to give the home fans a positive result. Although they will be without some key figures, the return of Brian O’Driscoll and Sean O’Brien could not have been better planned. Third place is where we predict the Irish to finish.
They may have scored the least and conceded the most points in last years competition but they did manage to defeat Scotland which left them fifth in the final standings. Italian rugby is improving and the national side will be looking to build on what they have done over the past 12 months. With Scotland looking stronger, we think it will be Italy on the bottom at the end.
Wasps utility back Andrea Masi is a key player for the Italians with his experience and skill being a major part of their game. Not only does he score tries, he has the ability to put other players away.
Apart from a midweek win over Australia in the summer, the past 12 months for Scottish rugby have been a disappointment. After claiming the wooden spoon last year, the coaches have injected some youth in to the squad which should help them improve on last years result. It should be a fifth place finish for Scotland this time around.
The reigning champions head in to the tournament on the back of 7 defeats and with an depleted squad. There are a number of injury worries for Wales, however as always they will give it the best with what they have got and are sure to get some good results. Unfortunately we can’t see them retaining their crown and see a fourth place finish on the cards.
The coaches have a big decision to make with regards to where Justin Tipuric fits in to the starting XV. The Ospreys flanker has been in fine form recently and will be looking to add to his two caps over the next few weeks.