The inordinate thing about the Six Nations in a Rugby World Cup year is it’s even bigger and better. I truly trust we will see the best Rugby World Cup in rugby history in 2023 because there are three northern hemisphere sides France Rugby team, Ireland, and England Rugby team who can win it and there are the three big southern hemisphere sides who are receiving better all the time.
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The best way for one of the home states to lay down a marker for the Rugby World Cup is to win the Six Nations ideally with a Grand Slam.
England Rugby World Cup side
England can win the Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup. The more I think about it, the happier I am about Steve Borthwick’s appointment as head coach. I capped Borthwick in 2001 and I was satisfied he spoke about his time playing under me when he was revealed by England.
He spoke about the posters we had on the walls which repeated the players of numerous aspects of our game, but most highly to remember the basics. They are lineout, scrum, and restarts. Borthwick was right to say England’s Rugby side isn’t in the top three in the world in any of rugby’s key areas right now. That has to change and I believe it will.
It will be a big change to the Eddie Jones era, where all the emphasis was on the coach and not the side. I hope the Borthwick era will bring an end to the awful rhetoric that came to symbolize English rugby under Jones. If I had one wish for 2023, it would be to ban the footings ‘starters’ and ‘finishers. What is unconditionally vital is that Borthwick is given the chance to stamp his mark on the side and pick a squad that is completely chosen by him for the Six Nations.
When I read that Borthwick can only make five changes to the existing large England Rugby team due to Premiership and RFU rules, I was more than disappointed. So, it was heartening to hear both parties appear to be willing to give Borthwick the green light to pick a completely new squad. One huge advantage for Borthwick is he has worked in the England setup before. He knows the players previously and as a former Leicester coach, has a great knowledge of the Premiership.
I’m hugely happy about England’s first game with Scotland. Borthwick is in a good location to bring immediate development to the side because the heaviness is off him and the only way is up after an unsatisfactory last three years. That is how the Jones era will be recalled, which is a great shame. It should never have been allowable to happen.
England’s first two fixtures against Scotland and Italy at home could not be better. Win those two and I can see England getting on a roll. I unconditionally believe they can beat France at home too. England won’t get approved away under Borthwick. They will take it one game at a time. That might sound boring, but I’ve always upheld that you have to make for your next game as if it was a Rugby World Cup final and a match you have to win. England was shamefaced of not doing that under Jones. Beating Scotland at Twickenham has to be the first importance and nothing else. Worldwide Tickets and Hospitality offers Rugby World Cup tickets for the France Rugby World Cup 2023 at the best prices. Rugby fans can buy Rugby World Cup Final Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
Borthwick needs to nail down who he wants in his starting 15, particularly the key positions of 10, 12, and 13. He has to get the culture right. I’d like to see form Premiership players like Ollie Hassell-Collins and Ben Earl given an accidental and bring a fresh, youthful vibrancy to the England set-up. Since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Jones picked nearly the same players almost regardless of their club form.
I think that will change under Borthwick and his selection for the Scotland game is a chance to lay down a marker. I think Borthwick will get Twickenham rocking in 2023 and that would be great to see after the dour and dreary rugby England has shaped in recent times. Make no mistake, Scotland would have favoured seeing Jones sitting in the training box and not Borthwick.
France Rugby World Cup side
The French rugby team is in a wonderful place and a total contrast to the England Rugby side. I do a lot of work on France Rugby’s side and I know the public there is right behind their side. They have a home Rugby World Cup to look forward to and in Antoine Dupont and Shaun Edwards, they have one of the best players and best trainers on the planet. It could be an astonishing year for them and I think playing at home in a Rugby World Cup is a huge benefit. It’s like having a 16th man.
I affect that being at home adds extra weight. If you are a top side that is capable of winning a Rugby World Cup, then that should be water off a duck’s back. Another benefit for France is you can name their first-choice side now. Ireland can too, but England Rugy side and Wales aren’t in that position yet. Whoever is going to win the Rugby World Cup will have to beat France at home and that’s a fearsome view. However, I think the England Rugby side will get the better of them at Twickenham in the Six Nations.
Ireland Rugby World Cup Side
Ahead of the 2003 Rugby World Cup, I expressed to my England Rugby side players we couldn’t dream of winning in Australia unless we appealed a Six Nations Grand Slam. That should be the message Andy Farrell sends to his side. Ireland has a best of peaking between Rugby World Cups and unsatisfactory on the big stage. But they are formally the world’s best team entering 2023 and I don’t think they should shy away from the weight that comes with that position.
They are a top side with great players and a great coach. They have the chance to show that now. Ireland has all the tools to be Six Nations and Rugby World Cup winners. But can they go to Cardiff at the start of February and win? That will be a tough test for them against a Welsh side that will be invigorated by Warren Gatland’s return. That game potential to be a huge start to the Six Nations. Win at the Territory Stadium and Ireland will be full of confidence, but that is by no means a given.
Italy Rugby World Cup Side
I just hope for the Six Nations that Italy wins a game, as they did last year by beating Wales. I’ve never understood why there is not a promotion and relegation clash for the Championship. It would recover it enormously. Though, Italy is refining.
They beat Wales Rugby side and Australia in 2022 but I wouldn’t read too much into the Wallaby consequence given they had so many injuries. Italy will finish last over this year, but hopefully, we see them get a result and scare some sides. The threat of demotion would bring the best out of them and is what the Six Nations seriously needs.
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