John Inverdale is joined by former international captains Martin Johnson, Andy Nicol and Chris Paterson, plus Wales international Sam Warburton, to preview the 2018 tournament.
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Cardiff, one of the most vibrant
cities in Britain. It sparkles with
Celtic intensity. The Six Nations
championship is one hour away.
Months of preparation and weeks of
training. By now, if you are one of
the six coaches, there is nothing
more to be seen.
Everyone is talking
about Ireland and Scotland, so we
are chasing those guys.
really on the rise. Greg has
installed this belief.
sacked their national coach.
nowhere near it at the moment, there
are the whipping boys in every
Where will Wales be in
the Six Nations competition.
will not win it.
will not win it.
Have you thought
about the future after 2019.
we be favourites, every comment
about our game is that we were
It is the weight of
expectation for Ireland to go out
Same old excuses.
coach, I hate losing.
No matter how
dry or long your January Feltz,
February Herald sports of springtime
and before a ball is kicked, the
relentless positivity is
overwhelming. Get off to a good
start and the talk of championships
and Grand Slams. Lose the opener and
the balloon of optimism is pricked
with six weeks left to play. Cardiff
and the Principality Stadium on the
opening day of the Six Nations, is a
very special place to be.
very special place to be. Some
serious faces, but not too many in
the national newspapers would have
backed as their front-page headline.
Greatest rugby show on earth is back
and it underlines the hope and
expectation and the enormity of the
Six Nations. We will share this over
the next seven weeks with the BBC TV
with the usual crew of Jonathan
Davies and Andy Nicholls. Martin
Johnson and Sam Warburton. John,
this is an odd expectation because
you have never been to a Six Nations
game without a vested interest?
Absolutely, we got in last night and
Cardiff was jumping. Everyone has
been waiting for this to start and
everyone is fascinating. Scotland
and Wales will be fantastic, the
stadium is buzzing.
We have some
images of you from years gone by.
got called up at 24 hours notice so
it was surreal to be playing in the
game. Your first view of rugby was
watching the Five Nations, as it
was. It is the envy of the Rugby
world, it is a great tournament. It
is great occasions, every match is a
great occasion. People come
together, enjoy it and enjoyed the
whole weekend. It is a fabulous
Sam, you would love to
be playing, if it wasn't for injury,
but you can feel Cardiff in a
different way today, how do you view
it as an event?
As a player, you
enter the camp on the Monday and you
are in this little bubble. You don't
listen to the press and you are
oblivious to the hype. Now I am on
the other side of the fence and it
is building. Cardiff this morning,
roads were closed, four hours before
kick-off, traffic everywhere, it was
mental. People finding places to
watch the game. Six Nations is the
one and it has got appetites going
And the game against
England a few years ago?
It was one
of my favourite games in the Six
Nations. It was incredible. I did
not ask to put this up honestly.
There was the old Samoans sidestep.
Didn't happen. As players, you
couldn't hear each other to
communicate with each other. That is
the best memory of my rugby career.
Over the next 40 minutes we will
look at the championship as a whole
before we concentrate on the game
here at the Principality Stadium. A
quick word about what might happen
this afternoon in the first of the
15 games. Jonathan, out on the
street last night, everybody was
bullish from a watch point of view,
but there is uncertainty as well?
Yes, because of the injuries. The
back blocks excavating the
>> liam-macro: -- the backs look
exciting. After a great Automator is
a nice feeling. Martin said, it is
fantastic and a squad, they are
More than ever before?
With reason, it was a good autumn
series. They have travelled to a
place where they have bad memories
from, Scotland have an one here
since 2002. But they come with a
confidence but is seeping out into
the crowd. The Scottish fans always
travel well, but more in hope than
expectation. There is an expectation
today to perform. If they perform,
they have a chance because the
players love playing for Scotland
and they are doing it well.
mentioned the injury situation on
the build-up to this tournament has
been dominated by an epidemic of
injury affecting all six sides.
Let's focus on the players missing
from the Welsh and Scottish
line-ups. There are some famous
names, there is some, there is
Faletau. North, Rhys Webb and Liam
Williams. And a whole raft of
players missing from the Scottish
It is difficult with
injuries, unless it is the same
injury, the Lions tour, they have
had a lot of rugby into July. You
get less preseason to get back to
full fitness. Scotland have lost so
many players and it is
unprecedented. Sometimes it is just
a quirk. The guys in professional
rugby do play a lot more, The Games
are big, they are physical. The way
the game is played is very
attritional. It is always a
balancing act on how much training
to do with contact for coaches and
players. How much is too much and
how much is too little. Sometimes it
is difficult to nail down why.
difficult. As Martin says, the
contest between rugby league and
rugby union, rugby league, limited
amount of injuries. When I came back
to play rugby union I was surprised
how physical it was. They are
cutting down in training, Sam, not
much contact. It must be difficult
to get the right balance?
It is hard
because you have two prepare for an
international Test match. From what
I have heard and seen, training
volumes have had to be reduced over
the last six months because simply
the training loads accumulate over
the season, not just again. They
have had to pull back on training a
little bit as well.
have probably got the best injury
profile of all the countries. They
are almost full strength, so it is
not across the board. Biking
Scotland and Wales have been
unlucky. They are the most affected
because neither country has great
strength and depth.
the injuries, they have got to
forget it, they are not playing.
Focus on the opposition, focus on
your own team. Yes, a lot of
injuries in the Scottish front row
and that will be on the minds of the
One point worth
mentioning, every time Wales play
Scotland, the greatest fact in
international rugby, when Wales
played Scotland in 1963 there were
Every time you say
that fact, I want to repeat it over
and over. We think of how long the
ball will be in play today.
players are having to play longer?
If Scotland have their way, they
want to play fast. It takes some of
the contact out of it because it
isn't an attritional game. Maybe
Wales will be the team who want to
be more direct, kick the ball it in
the Ford is a little bit more, drive
line-outs more than they normally do
and play like that.
Let's move on
because the action is starting and
the stadium is filling up. There
were extra security checks and
forced which meant sizeable chunks
of matches were missed by crowds
waiting to get into the stadium. But
they are being entertained by the
choirs and the bands and Only Men
Aloud are onstage at the moment.
People are streaming into the
stadium, 45 minutes from kick-off.
This is how the table looked, if
needed reminding from last year. It
is worth reiterating that things
have changed. It is now four win.
You get a bonus point if you score
four tries and you get a bonus point
if you lose lose by seven points are
less -- or less. This week, Eddie
Jones has been jousting with Sonia
McLaughlin. 57 years young sweet,
Eddie, what did you do your
We had a good training
day. We had some training with
players we thought weren't going to
A sixth successive Six
Nations title has never been done
We will go for the win
I know you don't want
to look at the bigger picture, but
are you encouraging the players to
embrace the fact they could make
The players could be part
of something special and as you
alluded to, be part of something no
other team in England has done.
have insisted Ireland are the
favourites, it is it Eddie Jones'
I don't think it is, if
you look at their form over the last
12 months, they have had some good
victories, they did well on the
You have 122 out of 23
games, the bookies are making
England favourites, surely they are
Always look at the form and
the recent form favours Ireland.
you conscious of the fact that a lot
of praise is being heaped onto
Ireland and Scotland, do you think
England are not getting full
recognition for what they have
It is not something that
worries me. It is fashionable to
bash England. The media always tells
the truth, so we believe what the
papers said that we haven't been
playing well, we have to improve and
get better. We're working hard to do
You have a significant number
of England, are you disadvantaged by
the workload the players have
compared to those in Ireland?
cannot control the problem. The
issue is how we respond to that. We
had our best week of training in
Portugal last week. Everybody said
the players would be disillusioned
with heavy legs. They came in and
they trained the house down and we
had our best training week ever.
are sticking with Dylan Hartley as
captain and hooker, why is he your
go to man?
He brings a lot of
leadership to the team. Jamie George
is outstanding. The average age of
the squad is 23. The history of Test
match rugby, the last ten minutes of
the game is generally when it is won
or lost. We need to have a good team
during that time.
You have signed a
new contract, what happened to the
beach in Barbados?
definitely still coming. I have been
going through the brochures. But I
have put them aside for a while. It
is a great opportunity England have
offered me to oversee the transition
to the next coach. I don't intend to
coach England past 2019 World Cup to
the next World Cup. But I would like
to make sure the next head coach
comes into a team that has good,
consistent attributes and the new
coach can add the flavour he wants
You have signed a new deal
until 2021, you know what happens
The Ashes tour.
I don't think I could coach the
cricket side. I would love to, but I
don't think I could.
Eddie Jones to coach the Lions in
South Africa, are you open to
leading the Lions?
I am open to
opportunities to coach. I love
coaching, I love coaching good
players. If someone asked me to
coach the lines, I would consider
That is probably yes. Are you an
Eddie Jones fan?
You cannot argue
with his record. When he came in
people were saying, how can an
non-English guy work-out? But we
have some very strong clubs in
England and Eddie came in with a
massive amount of experience. He
said I have a lot of experience and
listen to what I say. The results
have been there, it is an amazing
record. You cannot argue with that.
He has been good for the team and
the way he talks, he is constantly
keeping them on their toes and not
letting them get complacent. When
you win, everybody says how great
you are. But you are never that far
away from losing those games and you
have to keep striving or you get
Sam, you played against
England before Eddie Jones, do you
detect differences between then and
The squad is a massively
different. In the 2015 World Cup,
there were some more experiments,
Sam Burgess was playing 12. England
now, even though they have a similar
front five, Launchbury, Courtney
Lawes, they are world-class players
and that is what you need in the
front five. Look at the southern
hemisphere front five, they are big
athletes who ball carry an England
have a front five like that.
advantage England have got, there is
no complacency because of the
strength and that they have in every
position. If you don't play well,
another player can come and take
your place. It keeps complacency at
bay. He handles it very well. He has
a little go at the players and
bounces them back up. They are a
strong force in world rugby now.
Italian teams have done well in the
regional pro 14 competition, is
there any reason to think they may
give anybody a bloody nose, even
England on Sunday?
I don't think it
will happen on Sunday. There has
been improvements and they are much
more competitive, playing a more
structured game. In minor happened
this year, but I am hearing there
are a lot of good young players
being developed. So in a few years,
they could be a force.
I think they
will be tough. Everyone thinks when
you go to Italy you will win and
most of the time you do. But it is
tougher than you realise. On Sunday,
and less England are at it, it will
They have got to develop
their half-backs. There will be
stronger and more structured with
the new coaching set but it needs
the rugby brain. That is what they
are lacking, they gain management at
nine, ten and 15. They are only
going to improve. It must be tough
going into every competition as
You can see
highlights of Edmund against Italy
and Rugby special tomorrow night at
6pm on BBC Two. -- England.
6pm on BBC Two. -- England. Most
people are seeing England against
silent as the potential championship
decider. Ireland are the only team
so far to beat England during Eddie
guaranteed. The Irish kitchen sink
at the ready, England needing to
hold their nerve. Johnny Sexton, the
kind of man for a day like this.
Ireland on the ball, their tails are
up. Ireland with the drive.
Henderson. A fifth score in the
Green of Ireland for Henderson.
Ireland are into double figures. The
cleanest of strikes from Owen
Farrell. That is a monstrous kick
from Johnny Sexton. Owen Farrell,
keeping England in touch. Ireland,
bring England crashing to earth.
match in Paris against Ireland
starts at 4:45pm and Paul O'Connell
will be part of the commentary team.
How are you?
Ireland feel about being favourites
for the Six Nations?
The bookies are
very rarely wrong. I don't think
Eddie is far wrong, Ireland have a
very settled team working under an
excellent coach. The coaching staff
is getting stronger and stronger
with Andy Farrell coming in as well.
Behind that you have great coaching
going on in the provinces. Stuart
Lancaster has had a massive effect
at Leinster. 14 of the squad are
playing in Ireland today. Leinster
have been working with Stuart
Lancaster for the last few months
and they have elevated how they
played. Top team in Europe at the
moment in both defence and attack. I
think Ireland are in a very good
place. The fact they play away from
home against France and against
England and have never beaten the
two of them in the same year away
from home since 1972, maybe in an
Irish person's eyes, tells us the
favouritism in the way of the
I was reading an interview
with Rory Best, the Irish captain
this morning and he said there are
some experienced players. He said
playing in Paris was like nowhere
else because of the assault on the
senses. You have played there many
times, what does it feel like?
generally start very well here. We
have been on the back of some
incredible games here where we have
given ourselves a massive mountain
to climb. It will probably be
something similar today. They will
have a lot to prove and they have
been under pressure, but when you
talk about experience, the French
are far less experience than the
Irish. The front row for the French
have. I think there is 16 the entire
front bench here today. Ireland, in
terms of experience are a lot
further down the track than the
French. The provinces have done well
against the French sides succumbing
to France and winning isn't as big a
deal as it used to be the Irish
sides and coming to Paris isn't as
big a deal as it used to be. Ireland
will be in a good place to handle
the pressure and the motion.
you very much, we will be there in
plenty of time for kick-off. France,
anybody. What can we expect we just
France, even if they
were disrupted, they have great
athletes and in the scrimmage, they
give you a challenge there. They
have so many foreign players in
their competition, it has taken away
a lot of their natural character and
how they play. I think they are
looking to get back to how they used
to play. Be interesting to see how
Typically French, they suck
their coach at the start of the Six
Nations. They replaced with a
similar type coach. A lot of coaches
coming through the French Top 14 and
it would be good to elevate some of
them. This could be the future. It
could be a good selection by Jacques
When you saw the French
selection, there were some
unfamiliar names, could this be the
devil may care approach that fans
are saying, we are at the starting
block, 18 months before a World Cup
and actually, they could do
There is no expectation on
the French, which could be dangers
for their opposing team. Paris is
one of the most hostile of the
ground you play in. If you are
defending and going backwards five
phases in a row, the crowd get on
top of the team and you can see them
growing with confidence. You have to
make sure that doesn't happen. A lot
of young teens do this, they go out,
they play with no fear. That is
probably the best way to express
Look at identity and how
they play, nobody can work it out.
Whether they are trying to play like
the club sides are but they have the
overseas forwards, it is very slow
and stodgy with a lot of kicking.
This young French side looks like,
we will go back to the old style of
a big pack, win the set piece and
see what happens.
It will be a
fascinating match in Paris this
afternoon. If you have just switched
on and we are working our way to the
prospect of all the sides in this
Six Nations. We are starting in the
Principality Stadium and the
atmosphere is building. Let's move
to Scotland who come here with
enormous expectation, given what
happened during the autumn
internationals. We saw a new
Scotland, bold, enterprising,
energising and exciting Scotland?
It is a big chase by Tommy Seymour.
It is that man Jones.
It is that man Jones. What a vital
score for Scotland.
score for Scotland.
Wide it goes now
and Taylor in for a try. Great try
for the All Blacks.
tries to switch and he scores for
Scotland. Seymour gathers it. Gives
the past. Is there still life in
Scotland here at Murrayfield? Stuart
Hogg is through. Stuart Hogg for the
corner. Can't quite get there and
the whistle blows. The cruellest
sound for Scotland here at
Murrayfield. Chance for McGuigan.
Can he win the race? McGuigan scores
for Scotland. Sean Maitland for the
corner. Sean Maitland slides. Chaos
at Murrayfield. Hugh John 's -- who
Jones, scoring again. Half-century
against the Wallabies, who would
It was that result in
particular against Australia means
the journey south has been
undertaken with such relish by
thousands of Scotland fans even know
it is 16 years since they won in
Cardiff and a decade since they won
on the opening day of the Six
Nations. Gregor Townsend is with Lee
This is your first Six Nations as a
coach, have things just got more
I think so, it is a great
tournament. The build-up has been
more pronounced than what happened
in November and we are excited to
play. It is a brilliant stadium to
play in and we cannot wait to put
what we have done in training onto
The last time Scotland
won in Cardiff, you are still
playing, what is the key to turning
Scotland's fortunes round?
got to take your opportunities but
work hard to create them. Six
Nations tend to be physical matches,
especially the first one. There will
be mistakes as the teams played the
first games. So working hard,
working for 80 minutes, making sure
the last 20 minutes, we are in with
a chance of winning.
faces, like Wales, a side which has
been dictated to by Injera, do you
know how good the Scottish side is?
We have been impressed by how they
have trained. They played well in
November and we have made changes to
the team as well. The way they
combine training gives us a lot of
belief we can go out and play well.
Training is different than playing
and we have a team that will try and
play their own way and stop what we
are trying to do, so we had to adapt
to that on the field.
Andy, years of former team-mate of
yours, how do thing he has grown as
Great temperament as a
player, way of reading the game. He
has brought that into his coaching
as well. He's also quite ruthless,
made some big calls over the years.
Mainly Glasgow, getting rid of some
of the backroom team. He knows what
he's doing and he knows how wants to
play. You heard him talking about
what a great stadium and atmosphere
it is. He will be relating back to
the team all week. A lot of them
haven't played here before. He said
he will go out and enjoy playing in
one of the best stadiums in the
You talk about because he is
prepared to make, one of them was
picking Ali Price when he could have
brought Greg Laidlaw back into the
Ali Price come he knows from
his Glasgow days. He brings pace and
tempo into the Scotland game and
that is how Scotland want to play.
Having someone like Ali Price doing
that is outstanding. What an
experienced player to come off the
bench with ten minutes to go and it
is tied Scotland are defending
Billy, it is the right way of doing
We keep talking about Scotland
scoring lots of tries, but in the
autumn they did concede a few tries,
especially against Samoa. Is there a
concern about their defence?
always want to have a good defence,
especially away from home. The key
for them is getting the excitement
in the game, not feeling the
pressure or the expectation but the
excitement and the opportunity of
winning here for the first time in a
Scotland will have a the
back game and thought, this is not
good enough. They said if we concede
that many tries, we will not win
games. Wales will have said the
same. Especially with the injuries
on the front row. Ali Price can get
the ball away very quickly. Wales
will try to get stuck into them.
won't surprise me, I know everybody
said there are ten Scarlets on the
watching, but there will be times in
the game when Wales get to the
middle of the field and deliberate
goat tied. They will want to
challenge the Scottish front five.
So can Scotland handle the
expectation they have never had
before I get an away win? It will
set up their Six Nations
The more we talk about
it, the louder Delilah gets, it is
John Inverdale is joined by former international captains Martin Johnson, Andy Nicol and Chris Paterson, plus Wales international Sam Warburton, to preview the 2018 Six Nations tournament.