Europe Report - 6 Nations De-Briefing
19 March, 2012
Wales claimed their third Grand Slam in eight seasons last weekend after a hard won battle against France 16-9. With the dust now settling on the 2012 6 Nations Marc Thompson takes a brief look at the performance of each team, as well as news on the 6 Nations U20 competition and a focus on Europe's Tier 2 competition. 6 NATIONS DE-BRIEF
Good but need to get better to move into the top three best teams in the world. They have a young squad, a good management team and self belief. If they can win two out of three against Australia in June, then they can be considered 'World Class'. England
A new vision from a new coach. Still forward driven which will be tested out in South Africa come the summer. Whether acting head coach Stuart Lancaster is at the reigns, time will tell. Ireland
Probablely time for a change. They were found wanting by a superior English team at Twickenham. The old hands have served them well, but the trip to New Zealand in three months must see some new faces tested. France
A different backroom staff kept faith in the group that reached the RWC final, but changes are already afoot and will increase with the tour to Argentina. Their IRB ranking of sixth is a true reflection of their status in world rugby at the moment. Italy
Jacques Brunel, their coach who took over from Nick Mallett, looked to base their effort on local talent from Italy’s two professional clubs. Found lacking against the 'Big Boys' but good enough to see off the Scots. Scotland
Like the Azzurri, however hard they tried, the dearth of home grown talent told in the end. Another wooden spoon and, perhaps, the departure of Andy Robinson, before they depart to play Samoa and Fiji in June. The latter two teams along with Tonga, who meet the Scots in November, should have few fears. 6 Nations - U 20s
With the Junior World Championship in South Africa in June only a couple months away, a few words on what Sale Sorovaki and the players he chooses to select may expect to face. Wales, their first opponents finished 4th, behind England, champions, France and Ireland. Both England and France look as if they could challenge the top three Southern Hemisphere contenders. If Fiji go well they may yet see a repeat of the 6th place finish they achieved in Italy. Tier 2 Nations in Europe.
The ‘B’ 6 Nations continued this weekend as well, but did not get much coverage, in the wake of the main event. Georgia confirmed their status as the number one ranked team with an emphatic 46-0 win over Russia, while Romania went down to Spain 13-12.
There is talk in lower circles, or should that be a wish, of the winners of 'B' 6 replacing the basement team of 'A' 6; I think Georgia would give both Scotland and Italy a run for their money.
Meanwhile they, Georgia, will have to content themselves with playing a Welsh Select XV in two weeks time, a team made up of the best of the non-contracted provincial players. Why? The Georgian coach is Welsh, and Wales know what it is like to be the underdog