The Six Nations dates back to 1883 when the six nations tournament brought together the four British nations. France joined the competition in 1910 and Italy in 2000. In 2009 the teams will face each other once again. Here are some predictions.
Wales: To live up to the last tournament and the good results in the European Cup
In good form after good results with its national team and towns in the European Cup, Wales is the strong favourite in 2009. The Welsh 15 will once again base its game on attack and a game of movement which has been their trademark for several years. For that reason the Welsh can count on their star players who include the winger Shane Williams, selected for the best player in the world in 2008, the stand off James Hook, a true leader of the team, the centre Gavin Henson (Mr. Charlotte Church) and also the third row and captain Ryan Jones.
France: a team of young ambitious players
After a first half-hearted tournament, the new coach trio made up of Marc Lièvremont, Emile N'Tamack and Didier Retière, aim to win the first tournament as heads of the French team. For that reason the trio have decided to base the team on young players who have been world champions. The stand off Lionel Beauxis, the full-back Maxime Médard, the third row winger Fulgence Ouedraogo are the perfect examples of the new up and coming generation and full of ambition. A selection which the coaches hope will best prepare them for the next World Cup in New Zealand in two years.
England, a team in reconstruction
Just like France, England are also under reconstruction ready for the next World Cup. New coach, Martin Johnson, new upcoming stars, Danny Cipriani, Toby Flood, James Haskell… With this new team, England is trying to forget the failed tournament last year as well as the autumn tournament where the England 15 suffered 3 severe defeats against the Southern nations (Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). Martin Johnson is hoping to benefit from the good results obtained by the British clubs in the European Cup and the European challenge with in total eight teams qualifying for the quarter final in these two competitions.
Ireland, a team who doesn’t reach its potential
In spite of a golden generation represented by the centre Brian O'Driscoll, the second row Paul O'Connell and the stand off Ronan O'Gara, Ireland haven’t done all that well in the six nations tournament. In fact, although Ireland has won a lot of tournaments, their last six nations win dates back to 1985. However, the Irish towns have done very well thanks to Ulster and Munster who have won the European Cup three times in total since it began in 1996. Led by a new coach since 2008, Declan Kidney, former Munster coach, Ireland hopes to play in a final victory with a team made up essentially of Munster’s forwards and three quarters of the Leinster team.
Scotland and Italy, two teams who are still finding their feet
Like they have done for several years Scotland and Italy are going to try to avoid the wooden spoon this six nations. Still in the search of their glorious past since their last victory in 2000, the Scottish team captained by its star Chris Paterson and coached by Frank Hadden since 2005, hopes to at least win against Italy in order not to be the loser at the end of the tournament (and lose the match 13-0). The Italians, of which most of the players have learnt in France and England, are going to try to repeat their 2007 performance where they gained two victories; one of them being an away victory.