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Guinness Six Nations 2021 – The Finale

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Guinness Six Nations 2021 – The Finale

The finale is the latest ‘first’ in professional sport.

The global pandemic has wreaked havoc on the sporting world over the past 12 months. But, on a more positive note, it has taught us to adapt and embrace new additions to our traditional norms. Playing sport in empty stadia, artificially piping crowd sound effects onto live broadcasts, and now a Guinness Six Nations finale.

 

Guinness Six Nations – The story so far

Wales

Wales have been the surprise package of the campaign. Many, including myself, felt that the Red Dragons would be mid-table in 2021. However, they have proven that last season was a mere blip along the road of Wayne Pivac’s coaching regime. The emergence of Louis Rees-Zammit has breathed life into the backline. Whilst the experienced leadership of Alun Wyn-Jones has marshalled a powerful pack. The 2019 Champions claimed their second triple crown in three years. You can guarantee that the Red Dragons and their passionate faithful, will be watching Friday’s finale with bated breath.

 

Ireland

The luck of the Irish had been virtually non-existent in the opening two rounds with Murphy’s law rising to prominence.

In true Irish Rugby Union tradition – the Shamrocks have absolutely no interest in this weekend’s finale. It appears that the Irish notion of avoiding defeat in a Rugby World Cup semi-final by steering clear of it entirely can be applied to this season’s crunch Six Nations fixture. All jokes aside, Andy Farrell has coached his side to decent form since the beginning of Round 3. A demolition job on Italy and England, either side of a tight win over the Thistles at Murrayfield has them placed 2nd on the table.

Failing against Wales is the only real blotch on their copybook, and they will want to come back stronger in 2022.

 

France

Les Bleus – arguably the best side in the Guinness Six Nations tournament in 2020 & 2021 – but could it be a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride?

The World Number 3 ranked side find themselves on the periphery of glory with it all to do. To claim this year’s title, the French would need to beat Stuart Hogg and his chargers by 21 points in Paris. On top of all of that, the French have a ‘monkey on their back’ so to speak. Their Guinness Six Nations title drought is sitting at 10 years – so the pressure will be firmly placed on their shoulders.

Additionally, Scotland presents a much greater test in 2021 in comparison to previous years. Beating Gregor Townsend’s men by 21 points would warrant the title as the Thistles’ biggest margin of defeat up to now is three points (vs Ireland). Romain Ntamack returns to the starting fifteen and his combination play with Antoine Dupont may prove to be the difference by the time the final whistle is blown.

An uphill battle awaits.

 

Scotland

A team on the rise.

The Scots have won many admirers for the fearless style of play in 2021. They have won the Calcutta Cup for the 2nd time since 2018, but this victory supersedes many that have occurred in the past forty years or so. The Thistles won at Twickenham – a massive feather in their cap. If Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg can spark some magic, the Scots could finish in 2nd on the final standings. That result would be their best finish in Six Nations history with their last Championship success coming in 1999 – the final Five Nations season.

Thus, there is a lot more than pride to play for when they take to the field at Stade de France.

 

England

Less said on the English – the better.

Jones and Owen Farrell have not delivered in 2021. Irrespective of the result in the finale, England will take home 5th place in 2021. A shambolic defence of their crown and something which will disappoint fans of the Roses all over the world. Interestingly, England finished 5th in 2018 – which followed on from their 2017 triumph.

Back to the drawing board.

 

Italy

There was a spell at the turn of the 2010s that the Azzurri looked as though they would develop into a stern challenge for most of World Rugby’s elite. Unfortunately, all that promise has slowly dissipated and 2021 represents their worst campaign in Six Nations history. Finishing the season with a -184 points difference. It is reaching a point now where the Northern Hemisphere needs to consider a change. Italy has absolutely no incentive to improve or deliver results – they bounce between fifth and sixth on the table and that, simply put, is not good enough.

Perhaps it would be beneficial to introduce a second division? Six additional countries from the European Union could form part of a Six Nations ‘B’ if you like. These nations, as per World Ranking, would be Georgia, Romania, Spain, Russia, Portugal, and the Netherlands.

This decision would improve rugby exposure in the nations whilst adding the possibility of a promotion/relegation play-off. This play-off can take place once the regular Guinness Six Nations’ season had concluded. The ‘winner’ of the wooden spoon in the Six Nations meets the Champion of the second division.

 

The Finale – Controversy

France breaking COVID-19 protocols has sparked a massive controversy in the rugby fraternity. Their failure to keep players free from the global pandemic resulted in their third-round fixture against Scotland getting postponed. The game has been scheduled for Friday the 26th of March, but it has sparked a major debate, should France have been disqualified?

Fiji faced harsh punishment during the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup when they failed to adhere to COVID-19 regulations. The result was two cancellations with Fiji forfeiting the game 0-28 so France and Italy both received a bonus-point win. That set a standard or a precedent last year, it is laughable that such a standard is completely ignored when a tier-one nation like France is involved. Had the federations gone with consistent enforcement of their own rules, Wales would be Champions and Scotland would be runners-up.

Now, Scotland is being penalised when it comes down to the player’s they can pick.

Last week, Gregor Townsend fielded eleven English-based players in the final round of the tournament and now they will only be allowed to field five as the finale falls outside of the International window. Consequently, the Thistles are forced to field a ‘weaker’ side.

Surely, that decision brings the whole integrity of the competition into question?

Furthermore, France has the advantage of knowing exactly what they need to score to secure the Championship when in the past, final fixtures are played out consequently so teams cannot calculate results. Despite this, Scotland is sure to give a good account of themselves in Paris and the French are naive if they believe that this game will be easier in any way shape or form. The Thistles have their tails up and they will be hungry for a result.

 

The Finale – Permutations

All of this has culminated in Friday’s finale, the permutations for the tournament look like this:

  1. France wins by less than 20 points – Wales are the Champions and England finish 5th.
  2. France wins by more than 20 points and score at least 4 tries – France are the Champions and England finish 5th.
  3. Scotland wins – Wales are the Champions and England finish 5th.
  4. Scotland wins by 6 points or more – Wales are the Champions, Scotland is the Runners-up and England finish 5th.
  5. If it is a Draw – Wales are the Champions and England finish 5th.
  6. France wins by EXACTLY 20 points and scores 4 or more tries – The Championship is shared, and you guessed it, England finish 5th.

 

My prediction for the fixture is that it will be tightly contested with Scotland taking the lead at some point and scaring the living daylights out of French supporters everywhere. Consequently, the French will settle down and put in a polished display to win the fixture. However, they will not score enough points to take the Championship. Scotland has proven that they are worthy contenders, and the rugby fraternity can rest assured that the finale will be no different.

Prediction: France to win by 12.

 

We hope you enjoyed the article ‘Guinness Six Nations 2021 – The Finale.’ Who do you think will be crowned this years Six Nations champions? Let us know!

 

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Michael is a passionate sports fanatic from South Africa. He has been an avid follower of the Premier League, Super Rugby, International Cricket & Formula 1 for as long as he can remember. He enjoys writing on topics that spark debate and facilitates an environment of discussion.

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