So, that’s the Six Nations done and dusted then.
Everything now hinges on France versus England, at the Stade de France, on March 19 at 8pm.
Just after 9:30pm on the same day, England will most likely have won the Triple Crown and, barring an unforeseen accident in Saint-Denis, the Grand Slam as well!
The 16-16 draw between Ireland and Wales was the best possible outcome for England as it ensured that neither of them can win either the Grand Slam or the Triple Crown, although it remains possible for both teams to finish top of the Six nations table, in March.
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Possible, but unlikely.
For Wales to prevail, they will have to overcome England, at Twickenham and that seems unlikely.
Ireland, on the other hand, would have to overcome both France and England away and one suspects that is a step too far, at the very best, and maybe two steps too far, at worst.
England, though, have the advantage that, of the major obstacles in their way, the only one they have to face away from Twickenham, is France and although the French have been victorious in their last two home meetings with England; (25-20 in last year’s World Cup warm-up match and 26-24 in the 2014 Six Nations), eight of the last 12 matches between the sides, home and away, have gone in England’s favour.
The greatest reason for optimism, though, regarding England’s Six Nations prospects and one that might, at first glance seem irrelevant, is the way in which England’s one-day cricket team have performed since their embarrassing capitulation in last year’s World Cup.
Both English cricket and rugby teams embarrassingly underperformed in their respective World Cup competitions, despite having quality squads and no shortage of match winning talent.
And it could be argued that both teams were probably hampered by management styles and philosophies that were guilty of over-thinking and over-complicating preparations, selection and tactics, resulting in sterile, weak performances that were considerably below the level both teams should have reached.
The fact the one-day cricket team have now put their failings behind them in the exhilarating, breath-taking and spectacular way they have, bodes well for our rugby team, as it shows that sport is more about mentality and simplicity than anything else.
And you get the feeling that Eddie Jones, just like his cricket counterpart and fellow countryman, Trevor Bayliss, will simply allow and encourage his players to go out and play; to use their skills and talents with the oval ball without over-complication and without tactical shackles and restrictions.
If that happens, then the England rugby players, just like their cricketing colleagues, could use their talent to blow teams away, starting with Italy, on Valentines day, followed by Ireland, who will be Jones’ first visitors to Twickenham, 13 days later.
Time will tell, but somehow it seems destined to happen.
After all, where sport is concerned, England are masters at following cataclysmic failure, when the stakes are highest, with awe-inspiring success when it matters least.
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