6 Nations Review Week 1
2023 6 Nations Review – The Coffee Blog
Author: Steven McMahon
Springtime has emerged from winter’s frosty tips and along with that it’s time to dust off the annual long sleeve rugby jersey and don your country colours. It is time to look at the 6 Nations Review Week 1.
The Coffee Blog
Before we get into my first weekend review I would like to tell you about how I am writing this blog. Of course I am sitting back and enjoying a delicious coffee made here in the Mean Bean Barista Academy. And today I am enjoying the following:
Coffee: No.09 in a Cappuccino.
This coffee has notes of Hazelnut, Strawberry and Overripe Grape and is a Single Origin from Brazil, The perfect coffee to digest this next piece.
Ireland v Wales
Ireland easily dismantle Wales in Round 1
What can I say, the first weekend didn’t disappoint! Ireland looked like a threat in all areas of the pitch, strong set piece and the fluid interplay between backs and forwards along with a very fast ruck ball led to a dismantling of the Welsh hopes under their returning boss Warren Gatland. Wales had a purple patch in the middle of the second half as Ireland eased back into 3rd gear but unfortunately for the men in red, they looked too much of the same side as the past 18 months.
Scotland, England and what this means for the Boys in Green!
Scotland was impressive and with calls to claim to be the best Scottish team in a generation they will take some beating on home soil. England perhaps still finding their feet after a change of management look more of the same as what we have known in the last 12 months of Eddie Jones’s reign but beware of our oldest adversary, they are still a top side scattered with world-class talent that on a day, if their chemistry clicks, they are world beaters. Ireland v England set for the final game of this championship, in Dublin on the 18th of March looks to be a well-set fixture to crown our boys in green!
But there is still a lot to get through before that day. One being arguably the other inform team before the championship started and bookies’ second favourite, France.
Allez les Verts!
France V Italy in room last Sunday was an easy Sunday watch for the neutral but it told an all-familiar story on both sides of the ball. On one half of the pitch you have, in my opinion, the most talented starting XV in the world in France who just seemed to never get up and running. Could this be a blessing for Ireland coming into this weekend or will it give France the metaphorical kick up the backside they need to get firing on all cylinders? Only time will tell.
On to the Azzurri, they did so much right for 60 minutes of the game and unfortunately, an all too familiar site of Italy shooting themselves in the foot cost them the game in the end. They struggled to exit from their own half which put them under pressure that led to the French scores in the first half. Italy went into the tunnel at halftime trailing by a mere 5 points – a scoreline I’m sure they would have been happy with before kick-off but if they tighten up on the set piece and exits, they would have been leading and I think would not have been caught by the French late on in the game. Don’t count on Italy for the wooden spoon this year!
Here comes the French!
No doubt the game of the weekend and possibly the championship will unfold this weekend at 2.15pm in Dublin on Saturday when Ireland takes on France. The winner of this game in all likelihood should go on to claim the prize on the final weekend. Ireland ranked number 1 in the world with only 0.69 of a point between themselves and France will have their work cut out for them.
Will the French flair be enough to break the well-oiled systems of Ireland? I’m not sure. For me, Ireland, unlike in years gone by when in a similar position, doesn’t seem to be relying on a tested formula such as the Joe Schmidt ‘Keep Ball’ system. To me it seems the Irish team is constantly adapting their play and bringing in new set piece variations along with new open-field combinations all while playing a very clear style of play – Exit from your own half well, Play multiphase into the 15 metre channels and depend on quick ruck ball to beat folding defenders. This is then coupled with a very intelligent defense as we saw against Wales, by nature the front line gets off the line to put the ball players under pressure, but they have the ability to shift laterally when under pressure as we saw for James Lowe try.
The cherry on top is the back three cover with Hugo Keenan looking like a veteran international fullback. An honourable mention on the defence and back three cover here is Conor Murray who for me had a great game last weekend. More importantly from an Ireland point of view, he was very strong at covering the ‘bobby line’ – that weird space between the from line and backfield where chips go in and claimed several kicks as part of the backfield defence these are 2 things that his size ads mountains of positives to and which allowed Ireland to exit well on receiving the Welsh kicks. I would expect more of the same this weekend.
Ireland are off to strong start in the 2023 6 Nations Championship. They are currently ranked number 1 in the world. What this exactly means will be decided this weekend when we welcome the French to Dublin. It is said to be the deciding match in this years championship and we are hopefully in for a cracker of a game. Come back next week to hear my thoughts on the game and a look forward to Round 3. Time will tell but so far it is looking good for the boys in green! Find out more about last weekend results here.