Can they do it?

Rugby’s Six Nations tournament kicks off this weekend and the big question is – well one of the big questions is – can Ireland make it three wins in a row?

It hasn't been done before in the Six Nations and it was extremely rare when it was just the Five Nations. France won it four times on the trot between 1959 and 1962 but the 1960 win was shared with England. Back then two teams with the same number of points at the end of the season shared the title, unlike now when points difference (scored minus conceded) divides the tied teams. Which was what happened last year when Ireland edged England and Wales.

And Scotland did it in 1925-27, sharing two titles with Ireland.

So what of this year? England are the bookies' favourites despite the fiasco of the World Cup last year. I still haven't worked out how they contrived to lose to Wales, not that I'm unhappy with that result given my ancestry. But a computer programme that was pretty successful in predicting the World Cup results says it will be Ireland again this year. And again on points difference from England. It could go down to the wire with England facing France in Paris, Ireland playing Scotland at home and Wales taking on Italy in the Millennium Stadium on the final day.

So bookies or computer? The bookies rarely get it wrong; they can't afford to. But neither they nor the computer are infallible.

Wales and Scotland were desperately unlucky not to make it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, unlike Ireland, who were convincingly beaten by Argentina in the quarter-finals, and England, who didn't make it past the first round.

France were hammered by the All Blacks and it remains to be seen whether they have recovered from that while Italy look like being the whipping boys again even if they did manage to push Scotland into the wooden spoon spot last year.


He obviously never had any lessons in how to show respect.

All I can say is well done England and I am so proud to be English.

All the England Grand Slams over the past 50 years have been won with English coaches. Lancaster could have won it too if he hadn't been distracted by having too many 'assistant' coaches giving him 'advice'.

Joe Marler should have been withdrawn from the squad, there's no need for that kind of behaviour.

Sorry to disappoint your wildly inaccurate perceptions, but Joe Marler attended his local Comp and did not go to Public School.

England could never have won the 6N without a Southern Hemisphere coach,I like Eddie Jones a lot. I don't support England as a team but they were the best in the tournament.

Such a shame they soured it by Joe Marler's rascist remark to Samson Lee. Not every rugby player has come from a public school background as most of the English teams have done over the years. Anyone in any sport should learn to keep remarks to themselves as should a lot more people both in public life as well as the man on the street.

Bookies 1 Computer programme 0.

Pity it couldn't be Wales. Big question now is, can Italy survive or will the likes of Georgia get a chance?


England win the Grand Slam

Battered, bruised and jubilant - great photo

Italy 22 Scotland 7, good stuff.

Old style game. Scrums are great, they get the ball out of rucks, good long runs, proper dummies. Real rugby.

I'm watching the women's 6N, Italy versus Scotland. The Italians are superb. The trainers are obviously OK. I think you are dead right Norman. Watch Italy get better.

I fancy England to beat the Welsh. The big game for me will be against the French. They played quite badly aganst Italy, weren't too convincing against the Irish but won anyway and played well against the Welsh. It's always a good sign (or bad sign for oppostion) when you play badly and still win ! They are on the up and will be stubborn opposition. I worry about English discipline nowadays especially with inconsistent reffing.

Should be exciting anyway !

I must admit to being hugely impressed by Italy's development. I have been a great fan of Paresse seemingly since the year dot, and now they have a couple of good kickers and even some good heavyweights it bodes well for the future.

I must admit to thinking that Wales must have good chance against England especially if they employ the 'chip and run' technique and don't get hauled in a purely physical game.

At this time I don't rate France's chances though, as even on the improve as they are, I don't think they are yet ready for a real bruising encounter where skill doesn't come into it very much.

Funny how so many Islanders have discovered European ancestors isn't it?

Yes, I agree, caricature and all. That is why I thought the first half was England steamrollering and not using intelligence. That the two tries that clinched it were good stand out as exceptional moments in a game where gristle rather than brain was England's method.

The Italy v Scotland game was an older style rugby as well as more enjoyable. With a couple of faster wingers either of those teams could walk it against England, possibly do for Ireland and Wales too. I would not write either off. Italy has improved vastly since the World Cup and given it is a country with a relatively small pool of players and they are not buying in foreign players for the national team as much as others, good on them.

I suppose it depends on your definition of 'best'. The results were as I predicted, with Team Neanderthal proving the value of full frontal lobotomies. I just hope this sort of team doesn't become the template for future Rugby as it will lose me for sure. Hulk Haskell used to be a good player but now is sad and even unpleasant to watch. Hartley should watch his injections as no more 'flying tries' that so impressed not so very long ago. 'Look at Me' Brown should be reminded of sinking the boot in should not be taken literally, expecially when there is no chance of getting the ball out, and every chance of carving up even his own team mates. Blinding error there in sending off the wrong player.

In this sort of structure where would the Carlings, Wilkinsons, Underwoods, Greenwoods, Andrews et al fit in? They simply wouldn't, and I can't be impressed by sheer bulk and hammering. Don't get me on about the choice of Man of the Match!

To their credit Ireland continued to try and play Rugby, but as has been noted before they sorely miss O'Connell.

Scotland v Italy was a throughly enjoyable game, lots of movement, running, throwing the ball, and a high level of skill on both sides. Poor old Italy just can't seem to get it right though can they? This time an accumulation of small errors as opposed to a couple of big ones. Yes, Laidlaw kicked nearly all the points, but sorry again but for sheer work rate and effectiveness my Man of the Man choice would have been Paresse.

Best side won but i'm not sure about Farrell, time to take a chance on Danny C ? Bring back Dusty Hare !!

Enjoyable game in Italy, just a pity about the Italian discipline, well done Scotland.

Good result. They could get the gland slam. Haskell must go though, he has spent far too much time in the sin bin and earns it fair and square each time.

Two England tries well deserved. The failed conversion was a terrible kick though.