Mallett's money on Ireland

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 16:26

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: England may be the bookmakers' favourites, but renowned coach and analyst Nick Mallett would wager a few bob on Ireland in the Six Nations.

Mallett, in an extensive interview with rugby365 about all things Six Nations, admitted that England (unbeaten in 13 consecutive Tests - 12 since Eddie Jones took over as coach) are favourites to win the Six Nations tournament - which starts on February 4.

In the opening weekend defending Grand Slam Six Nations champions England host France, while Scotland host Ireland on the same day.

Italy are at home to Wales a day later.

"They have the biggest strength in depth," Mallett said of England, adding: "They do have a few injuries, but it is hard to look past England.

"They could face Ireland in that last week [March 18] in Dublin to decide the competition."

Mallett said that if Ireland do get through their first four games unbeaten, they can beat England in that final round.

"That will be a very difficult game for England to win," he said of the Dublin encounter, adding: "It may be against my better judgement, but I am going for Ireland to win the Six Nations."

Mallett - with an extensive coaching career that includes an unprecedented 16 consecutive Test wins as Springbok coach - also see the historical rivalries and competitive nature as reasons why the Six Nations is a better competition that the Souther Hemisphere's Rugby Championship.

"Scotland, Wales and Ireland always had that 'friendly' antagonism towards England," Mallett told rugby365.

"Scotland and England had a 100-year war back in the days and there is certainly no love lost there.

"Those rivalries come out in a very rugby way. A Scotsman is never more Scottish than when he has his kilt on next to a rugby field.

"You have those historical cultural differences.

"The other aspect that makes the competition great is that there is no definite winner.

"If you take the Rugby Championship, you can't make a strong argument for anybody other than New Zealand to win it at the moment. South Africa, Australia and Argentina are probably 15 to 20 percent behind New Zealand.

"You can make an argument that the game between Ireland and England, in the last week of the tournament, will be a championship decider.

"However, France and Scotland are improving, while Italy is not the embarrassment what they use to be. That is why it is a great competition."

Another significant aspect of the 2017 Six Nations is that they have finally decided to introduce bonus points to the competition structure - after years of the old system of two points for a win, one point each for a draw and nothing else.

"After the [2015] World Cup, where four Southern Hemisphere teams finished in the semifinals, there was a lot of introspection," Mallett said.

"The Northern Hemisphere realised that driving mauls and collapsed scrums, playing off No.9 is not necessary the way to go.

"The weather changes in January and February and the first three weekends in the last [Six Nations] championship - combined with the coaches and coaching, as well as the refereeing - computed to a slow and turgid opening three weeks in the tournament.

"That followed a World Cup [in 2015] that was exhilarating. World Rugby was disappointed to see Northern Hemisphere rugby go backwards.

"These [bonus points] have been introduced to make it spectator friendly, with teams trying to score more tries and fight for that losing bonus point.

"They wanted to avoid games where in the last 20 minutes you know the result and the attacking side plays out time.

"Now it is all to play for still.

"It will add something extra to the tournament."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Nick Mallett is part of the Accenture Analysis Team during the RBS 6 Nations, providing fans with insight and analysis to #Seebeyond standard match data. Follow @AccentureRugby or visit accenture-rugby.com

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
Sat, 03 June 2017
Crusaders v Highlanders 02h35 Christchurch
Chiefs v Waratahs 05h05 Hamilton
NZ Barbarians v B&I Lions 07h35 Toll Stadium
Brumbies v Rebels 09h45 Canberra
Force v Hurricanes 11h35 Perth
Sun, 04 June 2017
Ireland U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v France U20 07h00 Tbilisi
New Zealand U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Australia U20 v Samoa U20 09h30 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
England U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 54 | 10
Sat, 27 May 2017
Jaguares v Brumbies 15 | 39
Munster v Scarlets 22 | 46
Sharks v Stormers 22 | 10
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 20 | 23
Bulls v Hurricanes 20 | 34
Rebels v Crusaders 19 | 41
Highlanders v Waratahs 44 | 28
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 7 | 47
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 5 4 0 1 19
Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
France 5 3 0 2 14
Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0