Yes, it is Six Nations time of year again. I said on the BCFM Sports Show last weekend that I’m backing Wales to win, and on paper they should. They won the last two years, and a threepeat is something even the great Welsh side of the 1970s failed to achieve. But I worry. There is a huge amount of behind-the-scenes nonsense going on in Welsh rugby at the moment — basically stupid old men in blazers arguing over money and chest-puffing rights — and I can’t help thinking it will affect the players. Fortunately we have a fairly easy start with a home game against Italy, but it gets hard very soon after that.
By far the most interesting game of the weekend is France v England. The French were hopeless last year, and can’t afford to be that bad again. That, of course, means major changes in the side, which would be bad if the English side wasn’t even less experienced, even more experimental. Both nations probably see the tournament as the first step in their campaign for the 2015 World Cup. It could be a bumpy season for both sides, or their young guns could rise to the occasion.
Every year people say there is hope for Scotland and Italy, and most years they are wrong. They have a few class players such as Stuart Hogg and Sergio Parisse, but I don’t think either country has enough strength in depth to mount a serious challenge.
And so to Ireland, who last year came so close to defeating the mighty All Blacks. It is Brian O’Driscoll’s last year, and they’ll want to give him a good send-off. They have a very experienced squad. I expect them to steamroller Scotland in Dublin on Sunday. If they can follow that up with a home win over Wales next weekend they will be very well placed to secure the title.