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Preview

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

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Celtic intensity. The Six Nations

championship is one hour away.

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Months of preparation and weeks of

training. By now, if you are one of

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the six coaches, there is nothing

more to be seen.

Everyone is talking

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about Ireland and Scotland, so we

are chasing those guys.

Scotland are

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really on the rise. Greg has

installed this belief.

France have

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sacked their national coach.

We are

nowhere near it at the moment, there

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are the whipping boys in every

competition.

Where will Wales be in

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the Six Nations competition.

They

will not win it.

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will not win it.

Have you thought

about the future after 2019.

How can

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we be favourites, every comment

about our game is that we were

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terrible.

It is the weight of

expectation for Ireland to go out

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and deliver.

Same old excuses.

As a

coach, I hate losing.

No matter how

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dry or long your January Feltz,

February Herald sports of springtime

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and before a ball is kicked, the

relentless positivity is

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overwhelming. Get off to a good

start and the talk of championships

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and Grand Slams. Lose the opener and

the balloon of optimism is pricked

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with six weeks left to play. Cardiff

and the Principality Stadium on the

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opening day of the Six Nations, is a

very special place to be.

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very special place to be. Some

serious faces, but not too many in

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the national newspapers would have

backed as their front-page headline.

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Greatest rugby show on earth is back

and it underlines the hope and

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expectation and the enormity of the

Six Nations. We will share this over

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the next seven weeks with the BBC TV

with the usual crew of Jonathan

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Davies and Andy Nicholls. Martin

Johnson and Sam Warburton. John,

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this is an odd expectation because

you have never been to a Six Nations

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game without a vested interest?

Absolutely, we got in last night and

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Cardiff was jumping. Everyone has

been waiting for this to start and

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everyone is fascinating. Scotland

and Wales will be fantastic, the

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stadium is buzzing.

We have some

images of you from years gone by.

I

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got called up at 24 hours notice so

it was surreal to be playing in the

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game. Your first view of rugby was

watching the Five Nations, as it

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was. It is the envy of the Rugby

world, it is a great tournament. It

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is great occasions, every match is a

great occasion. People come

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together, enjoy it and enjoyed the

whole weekend. It is a fabulous

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tournament.

Sam, you would love to

be playing, if it wasn't for injury,

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but you can feel Cardiff in a

different way today, how do you view

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it as an event?

As a player, you

enter the camp on the Monday and you

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are in this little bubble. You don't

listen to the press and you are

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oblivious to the hype. Now I am on

the other side of the fence and it

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is building. Cardiff this morning,

roads were closed, four hours before

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kick-off, traffic everywhere, it was

mental. People finding places to

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watch the game. Six Nations is the

one and it has got appetites going

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already.

And the game against

England a few years ago?

It was one

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of my favourite games in the Six

Nations. It was incredible. I did

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not ask to put this up honestly.

There was the old Samoans sidestep.

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Didn't happen. As players, you

couldn't hear each other to

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communicate with each other. That is

the best memory of my rugby career.

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Over the next 40 minutes we will

look at the championship as a whole

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before we concentrate on the game

here at the Principality Stadium. A

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quick word about what might happen

this afternoon in the first of the

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15 games. Jonathan, out on the

street last night, everybody was

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bullish from a watch point of view,

but there is uncertainty as well?

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Yes, because of the injuries. The

back blocks excavating the

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>> liam-macro:

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>> liam-macro: -- the backs look

exciting. After a great Automator is

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a nice feeling. Martin said, it is

fantastic and a squad, they are

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optimistic.

More than ever before?

With reason, it was a good autumn

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series. They have travelled to a

place where they have bad memories

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from, Scotland have an one here

since 2002. But they come with a

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confidence but is seeping out into

the crowd. The Scottish fans always

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travel well, but more in hope than

expectation. There is an expectation

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today to perform. If they perform,

they have a chance because the

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players love playing for Scotland

and they are doing it well.

You

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mentioned the injury situation on

the build-up to this tournament has

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been dominated by an epidemic of

injury affecting all six sides.

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Let's focus on the players missing

from the Welsh and Scottish

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line-ups. There are some famous

names, there is some, there is

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Faletau. North, Rhys Webb and Liam

Williams. And a whole raft of

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players missing from the Scottish

front row.

It is difficult with

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injuries, unless it is the same

injury, the Lions tour, they have

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had a lot of rugby into July. You

get less preseason to get back to

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full fitness. Scotland have lost so

many players and it is

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unprecedented. Sometimes it is just

a quirk. The guys in professional

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rugby do play a lot more, The Games

are big, they are physical. The way

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the game is played is very

attritional. It is always a

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balancing act on how much training

to do with contact for coaches and

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players. How much is too much and

how much is too little. Sometimes it

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is difficult to nail down why.

It is

difficult. As Martin says, the

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contest between rugby league and

rugby union, rugby league, limited

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amount of injuries. When I came back

to play rugby union I was surprised

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how physical it was. They are

cutting down in training, Sam, not

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much contact. It must be difficult

to get the right balance?

It is hard

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because you have two prepare for an

international Test match. From what

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I have heard and seen, training

volumes have had to be reduced over

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the last six months because simply

the training loads accumulate over

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the season, not just again. They

have had to pull back on training a

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little bit as well.

Ireland, they

have probably got the best injury

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profile of all the countries. They

are almost full strength, so it is

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not across the board. Biking

Scotland and Wales have been

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unlucky. They are the most affected

because neither country has great

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strength and depth.

Irrespective of

the injuries, they have got to

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forget it, they are not playing.

Focus on the opposition, focus on

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your own team. Yes, a lot of

injuries in the Scottish front row

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and that will be on the minds of the

Welsh players.

One point worth

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mentioning, every time Wales play

Scotland, the greatest fact in

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international rugby, when Wales

played Scotland in 1963 there were

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111 line-outs.

Every time you say

that fact, I want to repeat it over

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and over. We think of how long the

ball will be in play today.

The

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players are having to play longer?

If Scotland have their way, they

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want to play fast. It takes some of

the contact out of it because it

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isn't an attritional game. Maybe

Wales will be the team who want to

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be more direct, kick the ball it in

the Ford is a little bit more, drive

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line-outs more than they normally do

and play like that.

Let's move on

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because the action is starting and

the stadium is filling up. There

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were extra security checks and

forced which meant sizeable chunks

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of matches were missed by crowds

waiting to get into the stadium. But

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they are being entertained by the

choirs and the bands and Only Men

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Aloud are onstage at the moment.

People are streaming into the

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stadium, 45 minutes from kick-off.

This is how the table looked, if

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needed reminding from last year. It

is worth reiterating that things

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have changed. It is now four win.

You get a bonus point if you score

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four tries and you get a bonus point

if you lose lose by seven points are

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less -- or less. This week, Eddie

Jones has been jousting with Sonia

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McLaughlin.

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McLaughlin. 57 years young sweet,

Eddie, what did you do your

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birthday?

We had a good training

day. We had some training with

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players we thought weren't going to

be back.

A sixth successive Six

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Nations title has never been done

before?

We will go for the win

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against Italy.

I know you don't want

to look at the bigger picture, but

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are you encouraging the players to

embrace the fact they could make

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history?

The players could be part

of something special and as you

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alluded to, be part of something no

other team in England has done.

You

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have insisted Ireland are the

favourites, it is it Eddie Jones'

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kid ology?

I don't think it is, if

you look at their form over the last

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12 months, they have had some good

victories, they did well on the

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Lions tour.

You have 122 out of 23

games, the bookies are making

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England favourites, surely they are

right?

Always look at the form and

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the recent form favours Ireland.

Are

you conscious of the fact that a lot

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of praise is being heaped onto

Ireland and Scotland, do you think

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England are not getting full

recognition for what they have

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achieved?

It is not something that

worries me. It is fashionable to

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bash England. The media always tells

the truth, so we believe what the

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papers said that we haven't been

playing well, we have to improve and

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get better. We're working hard to do

that.

You have a significant number

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of England, are you disadvantaged by

the workload the players have

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compared to those in Ireland?

We

cannot control the problem. The

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issue is how we respond to that. We

had our best week of training in

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Portugal last week. Everybody said

the players

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the players would be disillusioned

with heavy legs. They came in and

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they trained the house down and we

had our best training week ever.

You

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are sticking with Dylan Hartley as

captain and hooker, why is he your

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go to man?

He brings a lot of

leadership to the team. Jamie George

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is outstanding. The average age of

the squad is 23. The history of Test

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match rugby, the last ten minutes of

the game is generally when it is won

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or lost. We need to have a good team

during that time.

You have signed a

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new contract, what happened to the

beach in Barbados?

That is

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definitely still coming. I have been

going through the brochures. But I

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have put them aside for a while. It

is a great opportunity England have

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offered me to oversee the transition

to the next coach. I don't intend to

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coach England past 2019 World Cup to

the next World Cup. But I would like

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to make sure the next head coach

comes into a team that has good,

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consistent attributes and the new

coach can add the flavour he wants

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to it.

You have signed a new deal

until 2021, you know what happens

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that year?

The Ashes tour.

Probably.

I don't think I could coach the

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cricket side. I would love to, but I

don't think I could.

What about

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Eddie Jones to coach the Lions in

South Africa, are you open to

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leading the Lions?

I am open to

opportunities to coach. I love

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coaching, I love coaching good

players. If someone asked me to

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coach the lines, I would consider

it.

That is probably yes. Are you an

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Eddie Jones fan?

You cannot argue

with his record. When he came in

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people were saying, how can an

non-English guy work-out? But we

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have some very strong clubs in

England and Eddie came in with a

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massive amount of experience. He

said I have a lot of experience and

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listen to what I say. The results

have been there, it is an amazing

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record. You cannot argue with that.

He has been good for the team and

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the way he talks, he is constantly

keeping them on their toes and not

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letting them get complacent. When

you win, everybody says how great

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you are. But you are never that far

away from losing those games and you

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have to keep striving or you get

overtaken.

Sam, you played against

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England before Eddie Jones, do you

detect differences between then and

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now?

The squad is a massively

different. In the 2015 World Cup,

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there were some more experiments,

Sam Burgess was playing 12. England

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now, even though they have a similar

front five, Launchbury, Courtney

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Lawes, they are world-class players

and that is what you need in the

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front five. Look at the southern

hemisphere front five, they are big

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athletes who ball carry an England

have a front five like that.

The one

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advantage England have got, there is

no complacency because of the

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strength and that they have in every

position. If you don't play well,

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another player can come and take

your place. It keeps complacency at

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bay. He handles it very well. He has

a little go at the players and

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bounces them back up. They are a

strong force in world rugby now.

The

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Italian teams have done well in the

regional pro 14 competition, is

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there any reason to think they may

give anybody a bloody nose, even

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England on Sunday?

I don't think it

will happen on Sunday. There has

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been improvements and they are much

more competitive, playing a more

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structured game. In minor happened

this year, but I am hearing there

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are a lot of good young players

being developed. So in a few years,

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they could be a force.

I think they

will be tough. Everyone thinks when

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you go to Italy you will win and

most of the time you do. But it is

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tougher than you realise. On Sunday,

and less England are at it, it will

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be tough.

They have got to develop

their half-backs. There will be

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stronger and more structured with

the new coaching set but it needs

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the rugby brain. That is what they

are lacking, they gain management at

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nine, ten and 15. They are only

going to improve. It must be tough

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going into every competition as

whipping boys.

You can see

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highlights of Edmund against Italy

and Rugby special tomorrow night at

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6pm on BBC Two. -- England.

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6pm on BBC Two. -- England. Most

people are seeing England against

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silent as the potential championship

decider. Ireland are the only team

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so far to beat England during Eddie

Jones' rain.

Thunderous start

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guaranteed. The Irish kitchen sink

at the ready, England needing to

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hold their nerve. Johnny Sexton, the

kind of man for a day like this.

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Ireland on the ball, their tails are

up. Ireland with the drive.

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Henderson. A fifth score in the

Green of Ireland for Henderson.

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Ireland are into double figures. The

cleanest of strikes from Owen

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Farrell. That is a monstrous kick

from Johnny Sexton. Owen Farrell,

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keeping England in touch. Ireland,

bring England crashing to earth.

The

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match in Paris against Ireland

starts at 4:45pm and Paul O'Connell

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will be part of the commentary team.

How are you?

Good afternoon.

How do

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Ireland feel about being favourites

for the Six Nations?

The bookies are

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very rarely wrong. I don't think

Eddie is far wrong, Ireland have a

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very settled team working under an

excellent coach. The coaching staff

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is getting stronger and stronger

with Andy Farrell coming in as well.

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Behind that you have great coaching

going on in the provinces. Stuart

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Lancaster has had a massive effect

at Leinster. 14 of the squad are

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playing in Ireland today. Leinster

have been working with Stuart

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Lancaster for the last few months

and they have elevated how they

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played. Top team in Europe at the

moment in both defence and attack. I

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think Ireland are in a very good

place. The fact they play away from

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home against France and against

England and have never beaten the

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two of them in the same year away

from home since 1972, maybe in an

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Irish person's eyes, tells us the

favouritism in the way of the

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English.

I was reading an interview

with Rory Best, the Irish captain

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this morning and he said there are

some experienced players. He said

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playing in Paris was like nowhere

else because of the assault on the

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senses. You have played there many

times, what does it feel like?

They

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generally start very well here. We

have been on the back of some

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incredible games here where we have

given ourselves a massive mountain

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to climb. It will probably be

something similar today. They will

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have a lot to prove and they have

been under pressure, but when you

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talk about experience, the French

are far less experience than the

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Irish. The front row for the French

have. I think there is 16 the entire

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front bench here today. Ireland, in

terms of experience are a lot

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further down the track than the

French. The provinces have done well

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against the French sides succumbing

to France and winning isn't as big a

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deal as it used to be the Irish

sides and coming to Paris isn't as

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big a deal as it used to be. Ireland

will be in a good place to handle

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the pressure and the motion.

Thank

you very much, we will be there in

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plenty of time for kick-off. France,

anybody. What can we expect we just

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don't know?

France, even if they

were disrupted, they have great

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athletes and in the scrimmage, they

give you a challenge there. They

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have so many foreign players in

their competition, it has taken away

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a lot of their natural character and

how they play. I think they are

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looking to get back to how they used

to play. Be interesting to see how

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they go.

Typically French, they suck

their coach at the start of the Six

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Nations. They replaced with a

similar type coach. A lot of coaches

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coming through the French Top 14 and

it would be good to elevate some of

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them.

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them. This could be the future. It

could be a good selection by Jacques

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Brunel.

When you saw the French

selection, there were some

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unfamiliar names, could this be the

devil may care approach that fans

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are saying, we are at the starting

block, 18 months before a World Cup

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and actually, they could do

anything?

There is no expectation on

0:22:410:22:47

the French, which could be dangers

for their opposing team. Paris is

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one of the most hostile of the

ground you play in. If you are

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defending and going backwards five

phases in a row, the crowd get on

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top of the team and you can see them

growing with confidence. You have to

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make sure that doesn't happen. A lot

of young teens do this, they go out,

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they play with no fear. That is

probably the best way to express

0:23:100:23:13

themselves.

Look at identity and how

they play, nobody can work it out.

0:23:130:23:21

Whether they are trying to play like

the club sides are but they have the

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overseas forwards, it is very slow

and stodgy with a lot of kicking.

0:23:260:23:30

This young French side looks like,

we will go back to the old style of

0:23:300:23:35

a big pack, win the set piece and

see what happens.

It will be a

0:23:350:23:39

fascinating match in Paris this

afternoon. If you have just switched

0:23:390:23:44

on and we are working our way to the

prospect of all the sides in this

0:23:440:23:47

Six Nations. We are starting in the

Principality Stadium and the

0:23:470:23:53

atmosphere is building. Let's move

to Scotland who come here with

0:23:530:23:57

enormous expectation, given what

happened during the autumn

0:23:570:23:59

internationals. We saw a new

Scotland, bold, enterprising,

0:23:590:24:05

energising and exciting Scotland?

0:24:050:24:11

It is a big chase by Tommy Seymour.

It is that man Jones.

0:24:230:24:34

It is that man Jones. What a vital

score for Scotland.

0:24:340:24:40

score for Scotland.

Wide it goes now

and Taylor in for a try. Great try

0:24:440:24:48

for the All Blacks.

Jonny Gray,

tries to switch and he scores for

0:24:480:24:56

Scotland. Seymour gathers it. Gives

the past. Is there still life in

0:24:560:25:03

Scotland here at Murrayfield? Stuart

Hogg is through. Stuart Hogg for the

0:25:030:25:11

corner. Can't quite get there and

the whistle blows. The cruellest

0:25:110:25:18

sound for Scotland here at

Murrayfield. Chance for McGuigan.

0:25:180:25:26

Can he win the race? McGuigan scores

for Scotland.

0:25:260:25:35

for Scotland. Sean Maitland for the

corner. Sean Maitland slides. Chaos

0:25:360:25:41

at Murrayfield. Hugh John 's -- who

Jones, scoring again. Half-century

0:25:410:25:53

against the Wallabies, who would

have thought?

It was that result in

0:25:530:25:58

particular against Australia means

the journey south has been

0:25:580:26:01

undertaken with such relish by

thousands of Scotland fans even know

0:26:010:26:07

it is 16 years since they won in

Cardiff and a decade since they won

0:26:070:26:11

on the opening day of the Six

Nations. Gregor Townsend is with Lee

0:26:110:26:19

McKenzie.

This is your first Six Nations as a

0:26:190:26:22

coach, have things just got more

serious?

I think so, it is a great

0:26:220:26:27

tournament. The build-up has been

more pronounced than what happened

0:26:270:26:30

in November and we are excited to

play. It is a brilliant stadium to

0:26:300:26:35

play in and we cannot wait to put

what we have done in training onto

0:26:350:26:38

the field.

The last time Scotland

won in Cardiff, you are still

0:26:380:26:43

playing, what is the key to turning

Scotland's fortunes round?

You have

0:26:430:26:48

got to take your opportunities but

work hard to create them. Six

0:26:480:26:51

Nations tend to be physical matches,

especially the first one. There will

0:26:510:26:56

be mistakes as the teams played the

first games. So working hard,

0:26:560:27:01

working for 80 minutes, making sure

the last 20 minutes, we are in with

0:27:010:27:05

a chance of winning.

Some different

faces, like Wales, a side which has

0:27:050:27:11

been dictated to by Injera, do you

know how good the Scottish side is?

0:27:110:27:15

We have been impressed by how they

have trained. They played well in

0:27:150:27:20

November and we have made changes to

the team as well. The way they

0:27:200:27:24

combine training gives us a lot of

belief we can go out and play well.

0:27:240:27:28

Training is different than playing

and we have a team that will try and

0:27:280:27:32

play their own way and stop what we

are trying to do, so we had to adapt

0:27:320:27:36

to that on the field.

Thanks, good

luck.

0:27:360:27:42

Andy, years of former team-mate of

yours, how do thing he has grown as

0:27:420:27:47

a coach?

Great temperament as a

player, way of reading the game. He

0:27:470:27:53

has brought that into his coaching

as well. He's also quite ruthless,

0:27:530:27:58

made some big calls over the years.

Mainly Glasgow, getting rid of some

0:27:580:28:03

of the backroom team. He knows what

he's doing and he knows how wants to

0:28:030:28:06

play. You heard him talking about

what a great stadium and atmosphere

0:28:060:28:11

it is. He will be relating back to

the team all week. A lot of them

0:28:110:28:16

haven't played here before. He said

he will go out and enjoy playing in

0:28:160:28:20

one of the best stadiums in the

world.

You talk about because he is

0:28:200:28:26

prepared to make, one of them was

picking Ali Price when he could have

0:28:260:28:30

brought Greg Laidlaw back into the

side?

Ali Price come he knows from

0:28:300:28:35

his Glasgow days. He brings pace and

tempo into the Scotland game and

0:28:350:28:39

that is how Scotland want to play.

Having someone like Ali Price doing

0:28:390:28:47

that is outstanding. What an

experienced player to come off the

0:28:470:28:52

bench with ten minutes to go and it

is tied Scotland are defending

0:28:520:28:55

Billy, it is the right way of doing

it.

We keep talking about Scotland

0:28:550:29:03

scoring lots of tries, but in the

autumn they did concede a few tries,

0:29:030:29:10

especially against Samoa. Is there a

concern about their defence?

You

0:29:100:29:17

always want to have a good defence,

especially away from home. The key

0:29:170:29:24

for them is getting the excitement

in the game, not feeling the

0:29:240:29:27

pressure or the expectation but the

excitement and the opportunity of

0:29:270:29:31

winning here for the first time in a

long time.

Scotland will have a the

0:29:310:29:36

back game and thought, this is not

good enough. They said if we concede

0:29:360:29:42

that many tries, we will not win

games. Wales will have said the

0:29:420:29:46

same. Especially with the injuries

on the front row. Ali Price can get

0:29:460:29:54

the ball away very quickly. Wales

will try to get stuck into them.

It

0:29:540:30:01

won't surprise me, I know everybody

said there are ten Scarlets on the

0:30:010:30:05

watching, but there will be times in

the game when Wales get to the

0:30:050:30:09

middle of the field and deliberate

goat tied. They will want to

0:30:090:30:14

challenge the Scottish front five.

So can Scotland handle the

0:30:140:30:17

expectation they have never had

before I get an away win? It will

0:30:170:30:20

set up their Six Nations

brilliantly.

The more we talk about

0:30:200:30:26

it, the louder Delilah gets, it is

so exciting.

0:30:260:30:30

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.