After having faced Ireland over the weekend, the England Rugby squad will be making its way to the Bath University grounds for their next 6 Nations training sessions. The recently-appointed coach, Eddie Jones, may well have been convinced on the visit by former Bath University student and current England forwards coach Steve Borthwick. It is unclear how long the team will be staying, but it seems the University facilities will cater Hartley & Co in preparation for their next opponents, Wales on the 12th of March.
Certainly not the first international rugby team to have run out on our pitches, with the most recent visit being from the Wallabies during the autumn Rugby World Cup.
With the RBS 6 Nations 2016 already two games down, the six national teams have already been delineated into two separate factions. The first are the current contenders, the teams still in the running to winning this year’s edition of the tournament; France and England with two wins each, and Wales with a win and a tie held at the Aviva Stadium in Ireland. The other three teams will be looking to make a good impression in the following rounds but with no hope of clinching the silverware at the end.
Scotland and Italy will battle it out over the weekend to essentially avoid coming in last, with both teams having lost the first two games. Both teams are still to face Ireland, the third team with no chance of winning the competition. Realistically a narrow defeat to France and a tie to Wales have shown that Ireland have suffered from bad luck rather than a sub-par game.
England and France, the in form teams at the moment, seem to have benefited from a change of leadership following two quite pathetic performances at the Rugby World Cup. Eddie Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster in England and Philippe Saint-André left his chair to Guy Novès.
Both new coaches have kept some sort of original backbone to their squad, whilst bringing in some fresh legs that had been overlooked in the past. On the one side Eddie Jones has still been reluctant to insert these new young players – such as Maro Itoje and Elliot Daly – right from the kick off, whereas Guy Novès has been a bit less hesitant with uncapped players for Les Bleus. So far it seems the Frenchman’s tactics have paid off, with Rugby Sevens convert Virimi Vakatawa putting in a Man of the Match performance in the first round against Italy.
Italy also seem to have been injected with a large set of newcomers, with ten uncapped players involved in the original thirty-man training squad. With head coach Jacques Brunel leaving at the end of this 6 Nations campaign, the new faces will be looking to impress the still un-announced replacement coach. The youngsters presented themselves rather well against France, narrowly losing out at the 78th minute in round one and held their ground for an impressive first half against England the following weekend.
Unfortunately, the disparity in skill and game time with leading nations such as England proved too great and they were pretty much crushed in the second forty minutes in Rome.
Competing with Italy to avoid the wooden spoon is Scotland, yet again. This year however the Scottish results come as quite the surprise. In fact Vern Cotter’s men carried probably the most impressive northern hemisphere performance at the Rugby World Cup.
So far the rugby showcased has caused mixed reactions among fans. Apart from England’s second-half destruction of Italy, most games have been low scoring affairs. However, still excluding the game in Rome, the biggest win margin recorded has been six points. Low scoring indeed, but also quite tight affairs – in fact most of the games so far could have gone either way.
The rest of the tournament looks set to provide some incredible moments of rugby and the English team will be hoping that they’re time spent in Bath will put them in much better shape for their upcoming fixtures.