The dust of the RBS Six Nations 2014 has well and truly settled, so I turned my attention to next years set of fixtures, trying to determine who has the best set of fixtures.
Friday, 6 February
Wales v England (20:05 GMT),
Saturday, 7 February
Italy v Ireland (14:30 GMT), France v Scotland (17:00 GMT)
Saturday, 14 February
England v Italy (14:30 GMT), Ireland v France (17:00 GMT)
Sunday, 15 February
Scotland v Wales (15:00 GMT)
Saturday, 28 February
Scotland v Italy (14:30 GMT), France v Wales (17:00 GMT)
Sunday, 1 March
Ireland v England (15:00 GMT)
Saturday, 14 March
Wales v Ireland (14:30 GMT), England v Scotland (17:00 GMT)
Sunday, 15 March
Italy v France (15:00 GMT)
Saturday, 21 March
Italy v Wales (12:30 GMT), Scotland v Ireland (14:30 GMT), England v France (17:00 GMT)
When is it best to play Wales?
Wales normally have a poor start, so the first game is the best time to play them .England have it lucky here, and although Wales rise to a big occasion – which this is – they probably will find it hard to adapt to the intensity that the Pro12 fails to have. Wales scraped past an Italy team in 2014, and lost to Ireland in 2013 in round 1. The worst time to play them is the last round, thrashing Scotland by 50 points, dominating England to seal the Six Nations and beating France to win the Grand Slam in recent years, so in this regard, Italy have it really tough.
When is it best to play Italy?
Italy normally have a really strong start the campaign, then get progressively worse. Ireland will have to be careful of not overlooking this game, which has fallen badly on team such as France and more recently, Wales. Also, they normally have a really poor Round 2 (Scotland 2013, Ireland 2014), so England have a good draw here. Scotland have it lucky with the Final Draw, which Italy normally do poorly in.
When is it best to play France?
France are normally best to play in the 1st, 3rd and 4th rounds due to the absurd player release regulations. Normally there is a couple of players who pick up knocks and injuries during the ‘rest’ weekends, and whoever doesn’t get injured is normally very fatigued for training, or still holding grudges from who the played last weekend in the attritional Top 14. Excluding last year the 1st round was the best time to play them, so Scotland are lucky in that regard. Also Wales and Italy are lucky with their draw. Moreover, it is not so good to play them in a big occasion game, with a lot riding on the matter (England 2014, Ireland 2014). They play best after a big defeat, or a poor performance so that will be considered.
When is it best to Play Scotland?
Normally its best to play Scotland on a fast track surface due to their stereotypical lack of fitness and ‘heavy’ forwards, therefore its better to play in good weather, so later on in the tournament in the spring is better than in the rain sodden pitches of February.
When is it best to play England?
England are hard to predict, yet it seems that a night time atmosphere with a raucous crowd (Cardiff 2013, France 2014) can crack them. Therefore Wales – who have a 8pm Kick off – should look to crack this team. Also in past years England have either started poorly and grown into the tournament (2012 and 2014) or vice versa (2013)`. So whatever way it goes, one team is going to be in the luck.
When is it best to play Ireland?
Ireland are a hard one and haven’t got many trends, however they do play best when playing a high intensity, fast free flowing, so playing them in the latter stages isn’t as good as the first two rounds. Therefore Italy and France have got it best. In 2013 Ireland started off superbly in the sun soaked Cardiff, yet in the rain of Dublin they lost to England, the team that got bullied by Wales. Weather will play a big part in determining who wins in close games.
Who’s’ got the Best Draw?
England have, arguably the ‘easiest’ draw, although I would never use easy to describe trips to Cardiff and Dublin… Yet they could catch Wales cold in round 1, Italy are normally poor In round 2 and Scotland are normally very unlucky (France 2014, conceding a million penalties v Wales 2013). Also by Round 5 France’s Club v Country debate will of probably caused endless arguments, ad player release and injuries from the top 14 will cause about half of their players to be unavailable. England also have 3 home draws, which can never be underestimated.