Six Questions for The Six Nations

An assessment of what the six european teams face in this year’s upcoming Six Nations tournament.

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With the World Cup now a fading memory attention turns to the upcoming Six Nations. This year is set to be yet another unpredictable one and several teams will see it as a chance to answer the critics, (we’re looking at you England). Let us also not forget that for the Home Nations this is the first audition for next year’s Lions tour. So without further ado I have earmarked six important questions that face the teams heading into the tournament in less than a month. 
1)      Qui sont les Français?
It is a question that is asked every year and in fact probably before every game the French play. In the last few years the French have faced an identity crisis not helped by their maverick coach Lievremont who seemed to be trying to emulate the old fashioned English way of grunting forward power. With Phillipe Saint-Andre as the new coach the future does look brighter for the French although let us not forget that this is a team that could have and some have claimed (myself included) should have beaten the All Blacks in the World Cup Final. Saint-Andre has an impressive CV with a track record of producing good attacking rugby and this is a French team with a lot of talent. However it comes down to the players to decide which team is going to turn up. The core of the team remains the same from the World Cup but the French are one of the few sides in the World being capable of beating the best but losing to Italy and Tonga in the same breath. The relationship between the players and the coaches will be essential to France’s success. Here’s hoping for a return to good old French flair.

Can Phillippe Saint-Andre unite Les Bleus?

2)      Can Ireland survive without O’Driscoll?
What I’m about to say may sound ludicrous, ridiculous or in fact completely insane. But I am going to say it anyway. Brian O’Driscoll’s injury is one of the best things to happen for Irish rugby in a while. Okay fine, shoot me, call me crazy but I stand by it. Yes he is Ireland’s talisman and yes he still is easily one of their best players and still one of the best centres in the world. But he’s not going to be around forever. This year gives Ireland an opportunity to try some different combinations and perhaps cap some younger players in a bid to find O’Driscoll’s successor. For this Six Nations however I won’t be too surprised to see Keith Earls popping up in the outside centre berth. Of course whilst this gives Ireland an opportunity to find an eventual replacement they also face the tough task of playing without their talisman. If Ireland can pull through this adversity they will be stronger for it. Regarding O’Driscoll I hope to see him pull through this latest injury and get back to his best ideally making the Lions tour in 2013. He is one of the greats of the game and deserves a good Lions tour after the last two have been marred by injury.

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