After the first two rounds of games (other than Ireland vs France being rescheduled for the first weekend of March) The Six Nations Tournament this year has had its fair share of classic matches and its scrappy affairs so far, and it shows no real signs of who is the favourite to take the title.
France were the pre-tournament favourites and after the very clinical nature of their 30-12 victory against a gutsy Italy side, they seem to be in fighting form after last year’s World Cup Final heartache at the hands of the imperious World Number 1 side New Zealand. The French midfield newcomers Wesley Fofana, Aurélien Rougerie and Julien Malzieu all marked their debuts with tries, giving an indicator that the future of French Rugby is (very likely to be) in good hands. Les Bleus have another two home games to come against Ireland and England, who will present a couple of challenging matches for new coach Philippe Saint-André and the team, but no-one would put the Championship beyond France this year.
2012 is very much a season of fresh blood in the England Camp, with as many as 11 debutants displayed so far in the Championship. Chris Robshaw has already put in a couple of assured performances as captain of the side and looks to be the favourite to take the armband on a permanent basis. Interim Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has taken charge of England for two closely contested victories against Italy and Scotland (19-15 and 13-6 respectively), but the new-look side will no doubt improve as they become more accustomed to playing with each other regularly. A tough draw lies ahead with games against in-form France and Wales, with a tricky tie with Ireland at HQ to round off the tournament.
Wales top the table on points difference after the scintillating encounter against Ireland, with Leigh Halfpenny kicking the winning points in the last minute to take the score to 23-21 at the Aviva Stadium. A confident 27-13 victory against rebuilding Scotland has show that Warren Gatland’s team are certainly a foreseeable force in the run-in to this season’s Championship. Although injuries to starlet George North and confident fly half Rhys Priestland will definitely be a blow, but the strength in depth in the team is such that they hopefully shouldn’t leave too much of a gap in the armoury. And a Triple Crown bid against England will certainly whet the appetite that little bit more.
Brian O’Driscoll has been a notable absence from this year’s Ireland squad due to his currrent injury. His experience disappearing from the fold has definitely been a headache for Declan Kidney, especially after the lack of composure shown by his team to give away a clumsy last minute penalty away against Wales, which eventually turned into a match-loser for the Irish.
It’s seemingly business as usual at the tail-end of the Championship, with Scotland and Italy both losing their first two games. Scotland Head Coach Andy Robinson has already outlined his intentions to revive Scotland’s fortunes after a poor showing at the World Cup and a couple of disappointing seasons in the Six Nations. Attentions will now be seemingly switched to saving their Championship in their remaining matches against France at Murrayfield and away to Scotland and bottom-of-the-table rivals Italy.