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RBS Six Nations 2017 Predictions

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This year’s RBS Six Nations is just around the corner. The teams are assembled and the fans are waiting with bated breath for what will be a bruising, try heavy tournament that only one team can emerge victorious from. So who will it be?

ENGLAND

2016 RBS Six Nations: Winner, Grand Slam

Predicted Finish 2017: Winner. The Grand Slam is attainable but both Ireland and Wales away could be difficult.

Player to watch: Maro Itoje, Lock, in his second Six Nations his link-up with Courtney Lawes will be key for England’s Forwards.

Story so far: Eddie Jones’ England come in as clear favourites and a team bursting with talent, buoyed by their undefeated streak for all of 2016 and hungry to turn results into good preparation for 2019 in Japan. All England have to do is remain disciplined in the breakdowns and keep their fighting spirit shown in their recent match with Australia to lift the trophy once again.

FRANCE

2016 RBS Six Nations: 5th

Predicted Finish 2017: 4th

Player to watch: Gael Fickou, who comes in for Wesley Fofana, has shown promise at Toulouse and aged only 22 has been in five Six Nations.

Story so far: Les Bleus are a hard team to pin down. Their results are less to do with skilful players, something they have in abundance, and seemingly more closely dictated by the levels of confidence and peace within the changing room. If Guy Noves' good work on this in the autumn is sustained then they could be real treat to watch. However they must not be disheartened if their first game, against England at Twickenham, goes against them.

IRELAND

2016 RBS Six Nations: 3rd

Predicted Finish 2017: 2nd

Player to watch: Johnny Sexton is still an injury concern but if he can stay fit then his goal scoring ability will come in handy when Ireland’s sturdy defence force penalties from the opposition.

Story so far: In recent years Ireland has come to be a potent force in Northern Hemisphere rugby, two Six Nations tournament wins in 2014 and 2015 plus recently defeating the All Blacks are testament to this. But the team is fragile; last year a lack of depth meant Ireland limped through the tournament yet still achieved third. If the stars align then Ireland could decide this tournament, hosting England at the Aviva Stadium in the final game.

ITALY

2016 RBS Six Nations: 6th

Predicted Finish 2017: 6th

Player to watch: Sergio Parisse, the most capped Italian rugby player ever, will lead the team once again and will inevitably play as a one-man team tackling and running on behalf of his teammates.

Story so far: The Azzuri have never won the Six Nations and in recent years their place in the tournament has been questioned as Georgia and Russia grow in strength. Italy need to prove their worth this year. A near victory over France last year and first ever victory over South Africa in autumn are encouraging signs but Italian inconsistency, even at home, will be their undoing.

SCOTLAND

2016 RBS Six Nations: 4th

Predicted Finish 2017: 5th

Player to watch: Stuart Hogg, Scotland’s Full-Back, is an exuberant payer whose runs on and off the ball is a challenge for many defenders. His growing tally of tries is testament to this.

Story so far: Scotland’s renaissance continues. The only Northern Hemisphere team to impress at the World Cup in 2015 has grown fierce under Vern Cotter. Murrayfield is more intimidating now; playing Scotland is not an easy game. The team is strong throughout but its ability to break away quickly on the counter could see Scotland score many tries and thus bonus points this tournament giving them the chance to break into the likes of 3rd or 4th.

WALES

2016 RBS Six Nations: 2nd

Predicted Finish 2017: 3rd

Player to watch: Justin Tipuric’s form has impressed many at Ospreys, his defensive ability has been enough to challenge Sam Warburton’s long undisputed claim to the flanker position.

Story so far: Wales racked up three victories in the autumn against the Southern Hemisphere, their victory against South Africa certainly impressed. However they struggled against the ‘brave blossoms’ of Japan and have been caught napping at times. What will decide the success of this team is leadership on the pitch and those Shane Williams’ wonder moments; they could see Wales ascend from a mid table finish to a challenger.

There you have it, our predictions here at The National Student, but of course how the tournament pans out with a new point system is hard to say. Every team is capable of surprise, good or bad...

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