So, the opening games of the Six Nations have been played. We saw Wales take on England in Cardiff, Italy take on Ireland in Rome, and France take on Scotland in Paris. We also saw the tournament start on a friday for the first time.
Let me put my cards on the table, I really dislike Friday games - it makes it very hard for the spectator to get to the game from work; though I don't see it going away thanks to the TV people - and there are enough people who can get to the game to make it worthwhile to run then.
I settled down to watch the game, having seen a bit of the 'One Show' and Bob Geldof playing the 'anyone but England' card (okay, he didn't say that, exactly, but....) I don't mind a neutral supporting either team for any reason, but long term anti-support just seems wrong. That said, it's anyone but Quins. Hypocritical, moi?
The anthems began, and the Welsh really do a good sing-song. The Millennium stadium at Cardiff is a great venue for Rugby (though I've not been there for a six nations game) - and the noise with the roof on must be incredible.
Use of 'God Save the Queen' for England seems wrong - especially against another home nation. England should have its own anthem, with God Save the Queen being used for the British teams (e.g. the Olympics), or when two home nations play, after the country anthems.
The trouble is that there is no anthem for England.
The game itself was tightly fought, and there was some showboating from Ashton as he dove in for an English try - I do hope that someone has a word about that. Score first, then celebrate. He could have easily dropped the ball. England thankfully emerged victorious.
In Rome, the game was pretty turgid. The two teams held each other for about 65-70 minutes and mistakes were made often. The last 10-15 minutes were electric, with Italy nudging ahead to 11-10. Could this be a major upset? It wasn't to be, there was some superb work from Ireland and a drop goal took Ireland ahead. It's a pity that Italy didn't take the points at the 70 minute mark, instead they opted for scrums and kept pushing for the line, eventually losing the ball.
The Scots went to France seemingly full of confidence, but it wasn't to be. Their scrum wasn't up to much, and it went down again and again - after roughly four minutes the referee had no choice but to award a penalty try to France. Even Andy Robinson said that was the right decision (compare and contrast with the usual response of a defeated football manager, blaming the ref).
So, going into the second week, France top the table on points difference, with England and Ireland following. Scotland hold up the bottom of the table.
Next week, England host Italy (England should win), Scotland host Wales (Welsh win?) and Ireland host France (I suspect France will win, though Ireland have wounded pride to make up for).
Will my predictions come to pass? We shall see.
|Table Built: Sunday, 06 February 2011 11:40 UK|