Six Nations 2019 Round Five Preview
As St Joan of Armatrading sings “We’re down to the round, down to the round (five of the Six Nations)” and we still don’t know who the champions will be. Luckily, Dr Claws Cat knows whom to ask…
“Hi James, you appear to have changed your password on your laptop, can I have your thoughts on the last round of this year’s six nations?”
“Well, yes, I do understand that I’ve said some awfully mean things about you over the years…”
“Quite, and I do appreciate that you’re really upset…”
“Well, I’m not sure that’s anatomically possible, but if you just…”
Damn it. That means I’m going to have actually attempt to do this properly, and at the time of writing it appears that no bastard (bar England) has even bothered to create a hideously ugly social media jpeg for me to crib team information from. Nevertheless, here we go, the last preview of this year’s tournament.
Sat 12:30 Italy v France
TV: ITV (UK), FR2 (France), Virgin Media (Ireland), DMAX (Italy), NBC (USA)
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Roma
Referee: Matthew Carley (ENG)
This is my favourite sporting day of the year and, in unsurprising and totally related news, also my favourite drinking day of the year. And it kicks off with the Rugby equivalent of a shit sandwich.
I’m not for a moment advocating relegating Italy, but this has been another grim tournament for them. Despite early flashes of credibility, they’ve been given a righteous beating by England, again, and look to be making little, if any, progress.
Then there’s France. I’m not understating this when I say that this incarnation of the French side are an absolute disgrace to French Rugby. I want a French side where the forwards are terrifying—men born out of time that would have been right at home on an ancient battlefield swinging a bloody axe into somebody’s face or hefting menhirs while wearing blue and white trousers—and where the perfectly coiffed backs don’t so much run as glide, only taking time out from blowing kisses at the pretty girls in the crowd to dot the ball down over the line. Then celebrating the score with a fly Gitane under the posts.
Instead we’ve got this collection of abject cretins who don’t seem to give a toss, aren’t able to master the basics of the game, and are prone to at least one awful howler per match (and they’re lucky if it’s just the one). To make things worse, they also seem to have the tactical awareness of a pack of howler monkeys on a LSD binge. They are, quite simply, merde.
Pardon my French.
If there’s a Dog above, and he’s interested in any justice in the world, then Italy will administer a well deserved kick to le derrière collectif. Sadly, no matter how much I want Italy to stuff France right up their proverbial holes, my head says that they’ll win. At least Brunel can take les fecking positives from that.
Prediction: France by a few in a match that’s probably best forgotten.
Sat 14:45 Wales v Ireland
TV: BBC & S4C (UK), FR2 (France), Virgin Media (Ireland), DMAX (Italy), NBC (USA)
Venue: Principality Stadium, Caerdydd
Referee: Angus Gardner (AUS)
Following on from a horrible first match, we’ve got what will quite likely be a horrible second match. At least for me.
What the hell has happened to Ireland? They’ve gone from being the All Greens, readying themselves to wage terror and despair on the hearts of all Northern Hemisphere rugby fans, not to mention making even New Zealand a little bit wary, to Six Nations also-rans. Some inexplicable selections v England, and some lackluster efforts from a rightly-heralded side have left them looking at a probable third place in the table. Nevertheless, they did justly kick the absolute tar out of those frauds in blue last weekend.
Then there’s Wales. Being a right-minded Englishman, I absolutely begrudge Gatland’s team winning another Grand Slam. Yet the bastards are ruthlessly efficient and have won all their games without putting in a full 80 minute performance. Scotland gave them a scare last weekend, but it’s worth pointing out that they still, without playing well in the second half, came away with a win. Is the Fat Man right? Have they forgotten how to lose? I most sincerely hope not.
Were this in Dublin, I have to say that I’d fancy Ireland. They have improved with every game, and Wales have had long periods in every match where they’ve been second best. But it ain’t. So, I’m going to have to gird my loins, grit my teeth and congratulate the Welsh on clinching another Grand Slam in the Gatland era.
Prediction: I can barely bring myself to type this. Wales by 5.
Sat 17:00 England v Scotland
TV: ITV (UK), FR2 (France), Virgin Media (Ireland), DMAX (Italy), NBC (USA)
Venue: Twickenham Stadium, Lahndan
Referee: Paul Williams (NZ)
Ordinarily at this stage I’d be passing the drunkenness event horizon heading into the heart of the black hole of completely plastered. However, this year, I have a horrible feeling that having witnessed the rugby equivalent of a car crash, followed by the rugby equivalent of watching a gang of thugs kick a nativity scene to smithereens, there’s a severe danger of sobriety. It’s now up to England and Scotland to at least provide some entertainment in an otherwise grim day[*].
England look so much better than they did this time last year. And they’re at home. Scotland, a nation blessed with the depth of a teardrop on a hot skillet at the best of times, have been ravaged by injury with an absolute plethora of their best players unavailable.
Eddie has shown a penchant for bosh this year, favouring the bulk of Te’o and a revitalised Manu in midfield in the last match (he’s not stuck with this though), while Scotland are struggling to find anyone with Scottish blood fit enough to put in the backs. Russell is back, and they are so, so much better with him at ten than the alternatives, and they can call on the 138th best Outside Centre in the world, so it’s not all doom and gloom. However, England have also, when at their best, used a laser guided kicking game, and the makeshift Scotland back three of Some Kid, Some other Kid and Yet Another Kid Playing Out of Position are in for a torrid afternoon.
Ignoring all the mind games / bad blood / mean Scots said `orrible things to poor wee George garbage from last year, let’s see what Science has to say about the likely England team (as it’s the only one published at time of writing):
Elliot Daly: out of position. Shit
Jack Nowell: stupid hair. Thinks he’s a flanker. Shit
Henry Slade: Having to play at OC because he’s not good enough at FH. Shit
Manu Tuilagi: Made of glass. Shit
Jonny May: only runs sideways. Shit
Owen Farrell: red card waiting to happen. Shit
Ben Youngs: small and fat. Shit
Ben Moon: Ain’t not Mako. Shit
Jamie George: Makes me miss Dylz. Shit
Kyle Sinckler: Thinks he’s a dinosaur. Shit
Joe Launchbury: Ain’t no Maro. Shit
George Kruis: Ain’t no Dave. Shit
Mark Wilson: who? Not even a household name in his own house. Shit
Tom Curry: about 12. Shit
Billy Vunipola: alright, he’s good.
Luke Cowan-Dickie, (Lost his mullet. Shit.); Ellis Genge (plays for Tiggers. Shit.); Dan Cole (Was good about a decade ago. Shit.); Brad Shields (couldn’t hack it as an all black. Shit.); Nathan Hughes (just shit.); Ben Spencer (at least he’s not Danny Care. Shit.); George Ford (a fecking munchkin. Shit); Ben Te’o (Aspiring to be the new DCB. Shit).
So, Scotland by 20. It’s Science.
Real Prediction: Feck science. England by 12. I think Scotland aren’t as bad as all that, while England aren’t as good as all that and thus the bookies have been a bit generous.
Thanks to Cat for the peerless (and Haskless) predictions! May they all come to pass (except for the Italy and Ireland ones…)
Weekend TV Rugby fix
Free to air channels in bold.
Friday 15th March
06:35 Chiefs v Hurricanes, SR (Sky Sports Action)
08:45 Brumbies v Waratahs, SR (Sky Sports Action)
17:10 Stormers v Los Jaguares, SR (Sky Sports Action)
19:45 England v Scotland, 6N-U20 (Sky Sports Action, Mix)
Saturday 16th March
04:15 Sunwolves v Reds, SR (Sky Sports Arena)
06:35 Highlanders v Crusaders, SR (Sky Sports Action)
12:30 Italy v France, 6N-MEN (ITV, FR2, Virgin Media, DMAX, NBC)
13:05 Lions v Rebels, SR (Sky Sports Arena)
14:45 Wales v Ireland, 6N-MEN (BBC 1, S4C, FR2, Virgin Media, DMAX, NBC)
17:00 England v Scotland, 6N-MEN (ITV 1, FR2, Virgin Media, DMAX, NBC)
19:30 England v Scotland, 6N-WOM (Sky Sports Action/Mix)
Sunday 17th March
11:30 Clermont v Pau, Top 14 (Sky Sports Action)
13:30 Wales v Ireland, 6N-WOM (S4C, RTÉ TWO)
13:45 Schools Rugby final (Free Sports)
14:30 Northampton v Saracens, Premiership Cup Final (BT Sport 1)
15:50 Toulouse v Lyon, Top 14 (Sky Sports Action)
– Header: (Amended slightly by us…) Map of Six Nations Championship Rugby: By https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Historicair – Travail personnel à partir de https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tournoi.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67874760
– Cat-phone, by Christopher Bowns: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cipherswarm/2369136756 under CC By-SA 2.0)
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