Burts Chips Six Nations Preview
This coming weekend sees the start of the 2018 Six Nations Championship. A rabble-rousing tournament that involves opposing teams of huge men running around a pitch, with a wonky shaped ball and colliding with the same impact of two elephants squabbling over a watermelon. Yes, in the words of Joe Theismann – a former professional American football player – ‘Rugby is great. The players don’t wear helmets or padding; they just beat the living daylights out of each other and then go for a beer.’ And that just about sums it all up really.
As a spectator sport, the game is hard to beat. Whether watching live at a stadium, in the pub with your mates for a bit of ‘man time’, or at home in front of the television, rugby union really does get the pulse racing. There is nothing like a back-flip pass, from inside the 22 and seeing a player dart around or through five opposing bodies. Before pushing on with a gargantuan effort, to clinch a try right under the posts just before the final whistle blows. Jessica Breach did that against Canada by the way, in the Rugby World Cup held last year in Ireland. And we’re bringing that up to show that rugby isn’t just for the boys. We’ve got the double-whammy of the Women’s Six Nations to enjoy too.
So, there is a lot of excitement afoot over the next couple months and no doubt plenty of snacks and chips will be spilt on carpets and concrete floors across the land. As supporters rally their home teams on, thrusting hands and packets up in the air in cheer. Or after throwing them away in despair.
By way of a little preview and because we’re big fans and proud sponsors of rugby at Burts – Exeter Chiefs, naturally – we have decided to give you the lowdown on each team participating in the Six Nations. With some predictions and possible ranking in the final table. We have also designated a flavour of Burts crisps to each team, to exemplify their character and spirit.
Here we go then, let kick this off.
England – Devon Roast Beef: Powerful, intense and meaty
Having gone through the doldrums of the World Cup of 2015 under Martin Johnson, the arrival of Eddie Jones has certainly revived England’s fortunes with an impressive run of 22 wins from 23 tests. So, you would imagine that upward curve should continue. But England do have a lot of injuries at the moment, with key figures missing from the bench. Cold war tactics have been deployed, with Eddie playing down prospects to lull a sense of optimism in from the opposing teams. He won’t want any quarter given though and with players like Sam Simmonds and Jack Newell (GO CHIEFS!) in the team, we expect to see a flurry of tries. Along with the roar of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’.
Prediction – Champions but no Grand Slam.
Wales – Mature Cheddar and Spring Onion: Strong and punchy, with a versatile side-step
Whilst there is still plenty of flair in Welsh rugby, when it comes to the national side, they do come under criticism for executing their brand of ‘Warrenball’. Apparently, coach Warren Gatland hates that phrase and yet the ‘head down, grab and smash’ still forms a central part of their style of play. This leads to lapses of concentration but remember, they started off well against New Zealand (albeit losing) in the Autumn Internationals and ground out a deserved victory over South Africa in the same tournament. They also have their talismanic figures in the shape of Alun Wyn Jones and Taulupe Faletau, with some new blood coming through. Grabbing those away wins at Twickenham and Dublin is going to be tough work for them though.
Prediction – Fourth
Scotland – Firecracker Lobster: Flaming hot (when the time is right)
Slowly but surely, the flying Scotsmen are beginning to look like a force to be reckoned with in World rugby. Murrayfield has been their wobbly fortress for some time now but winning away at Ireland and Wales in last year’s Six Nations tournament proved to be the spark. And then they went on to smash Australia in November. Not bad going for a national side that basically has two teams to pick from (Glasgow and Edinburgh). Pace and direction of play often revolves around star full-back, Stuart Hogg. But he is facing a race against time though injury. In the meantime, they just need to hope that their front row holds up against fierce opposition.
Prediction – Third
Ireland – Guinness: Obviously must be the black stuff
Having put out the flames and dashing the hopes of an England Grand Slam in 2017, there is every evidence that Ireland will pull off another upset this year. Plus, they are still the only European team to have beaten the All Blacks in the last few years. So, lots of going on still with the men in green and we can expect plenty of fierce encounters up front. Players such as Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander do not idly stand aside, especially when the going gets tough. Things can flip in an instant for Ireland though. And if they lose golden kicker, Jonathan Sexton, at any point in proceedings, the overall rugby brain of the team might just turn to sludge.
Prediction – Second
France – Sea Salt and Crushed Peppercorns: Classic that never fails to entertain
You got to love the French and their national team, for the sheer unpredictability they bring. They forever turn up to tournaments and either surprise, amaze and dazzle. Or they fall flat on their faces. Much to the general disgust of their fans. Lest we not forget that bizarre episode during last years’ Six Nations, where some shonky officiating, led to a try for France in the 100th minute against Wales. The point being, with France, it is always a side-step into the unknown. With a fresh coach in form of Jacques Brunel, appointed just five weeks ago, we’d hate to hazard a guess really. But seeing as Jacques used to coach Italy, it is not looking good.
Prediction – Fifth
Italy – Spicy Chorizo: Because they desperately need to inject some spice into their game!
Which brings us last, and sadly least, to Italy. Some have argued that it is time for the Azzurri to make way for another European team such as Georgia. Or Spain even! And perhaps that is right. Whilst they occasionally bring a degree of thrill and skill to their phases of play, normally with the likes of Sergio Parisse in the thick of it; by the 60th minute, the steam often runs out. Then the deluge of points against them begins. And if they try the same trick of not contesting at the breakdown again, as they did against England last year, then that would show that Italy really has run out of ideas.
Prediction – Sixth