Final countdown to Rugby Six Nations 2017
Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Wales in final countdown to RBS 6 Nations
National squads and rugby fans are getting excited in the final countdown to the 2017 Rugby Six Nations championship. The opening round begins on February 4th and 5th. Scotland host Ireland at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and England host France at Twickenham Stadium in the United Kingdom on February 4; then the next day Italy host Wales at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. England’s head coach Eddie Jones hopes to deliver back-to-back RBS 6 Nations Grand Slams and establish the Red Rose as the No.1 side in the world looking forward to the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Jones' men begin their campaign against France at Twickenham Stadium, before travelling to Cardiff to face Wales, followed by two.home matches against Italy and Scotland before a mouth-watering final battle in Dublin against Ireland.
Buy England rugby tickets now online at LiveRugbyTickets.co.uk for all of their Six Nations games. "If you keep evolving what you do, then teams are going to go at what you used to do, not what you are doing now," remarked Jones. "I don't see it as this is the England game, this is how we are going to play - that is evolving all the time. Good players evolve with time. Roger Federer, every time he plays he has got some new stroke he develops. It is the same with rugby players. If you are a great defensive player and you can add attacking skills you become potentially a great player like Richie McCaw. Everyone here is very hungry to have success again. We've got to come out of the blocks and play well against France. If we get that wrong, it's out of the window already so we have to take it game by game." Defending RBS 6 Nations champions England are definitely the team to beat in the 2017 tournament. England are the defending Grand Slam champions and went unbeaten throughout the entire 2016 season, a run that included a tour to Australia where they recorded an amazing 3-0 whitewash in the summer. Next England enjoyed a clean sweep during the 2016 Autumn Internationals. In a short time under Jones’ leadership England went from becoming the first Rugby World Cup host nation to fail to progress from their qualification pool in 2015 to rising through the standings to become the second best ranked rugby side on the planet.
The England side is much the same in 2016 but the quality displayed by Mako and Billy Vunipola, Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs, and James Haskell is much improved under the leadership of Jones from 12 months previously. Jones appointed Dylan Hartley of the Northampton Saints as England captain, - a huge contributing factor to The Red Rose’s success and memorable year. England started off last year's RBS 6 Nations with a 15-9 win at BT Murrayfield against Scotland then improved as the competition went on. They defeated Italy 40-9 away from home, beat Ireland 21-10 at Twickenham, downed Wales 25-21 on home soil before beating France 31-21 in Paris. England’s 30 year old skipper Dylan Hartley has had to deal with injury and suspension ahead of this year's RBS 6 Nations. Hartley won't have played for nine weeks ahead of England's opening game of the Championship against France on February 4. Hartley reportedly has been working on his tackle technique to improve his game.
"I did think that maybe that was it," said Hartley about being suspended for a dangerous tackle on Sean O'Brien in December. "But again, a conversation with Eddie - a very clear and direct conversation - and I know where I stand. I obviously came back to Northampton and wanted to make a positive impact in a big game for the club. It obviously went horribly wrong. Positive, dominant, hard tackle. That's what I was thinking. Obviously the outcome was different to what I intended. I put myself and the team in a difficult position and since then I've had clear directives from the management of what they expect and here I am." England earned 13 consecutive wins in 2016 with a display of the leadership of new coach Eddie Jones who can take credit for his immediate impact at the England helm. The competent Australian coach took on the top job last season after the disappointment of the 2015 Rugby World Cup held in England, and has won every game since. Talk of back-to-back Grand Slams is a popular topic of conversation with fans. Jones wants another Grand Slam and has an additional goal to establish England as the dominant team in the rugby world.
"This time last year I said that the long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby,” said Jones. "Obviously I've been pleased with how the team's progressing, but there's still plenty to improve on. We always want to get better, every training session, every game. I've been impressed with the three uncapped players named in the squad.’ "They're all guys who have great physical capabilities and they all have a desire to improve. With a number of injuries to some key players it's a great opportunity for them,” continued Jones. "At the start of last year's RBS 6 Nations I probably didn't realize the enormity of the tournament and how intense the rivalry is between the countries, so this year we'll be better prepared for it and we are looking forward to being daring in our game against France on 4 February."
Jones became famous coaching Australia and Japan, as well as South Africa in their World Cup victory in 2007. England have had to deal with a number of injuries in the build-up to the Championship, with Mako and Billy Vunipola both missing, alongside former skipper Chris Robshaw, and an injured Watson will be on the bench. England have named three uncapped players Mike Williams, loosehead Nathan Catt and Alex Lozowski, while Ellis Genge, 21, is also in the 34-man squad, with only one cap to his credit. Jones named flanker Haskell, lock Maro Itoje, back rower Jack Clifford and winger Jack Nowell. The return of Joe Marler following a broken leg is noted. Itoje who was a nominee for the World Rugby's Player of the Year Award, and winner of the Breakthrough title, missed the November Tests through injury and is back fit again. Jones said that Itoje may be shifted to blindside flanker. England’s opening match against France takes place at Twickenham Stadium, the Home of Rugby, or Rugby HQ as it also known; Twickenham Stadium has the biggest capacity of any current ground in the championship at 82,000. Located in South West London, Twickenham has been hosting international rugby matches since 1910, At Twickenham, England recorded the biggest win in the tournament's history, a 80-23 win over Italy in 2001.
Six Nations 2017 Tickets for Opening Fixtures
Scotland v Ireland Tickets 4 Feb Murrayfield Stadium Edinburgh, UK
England v France Tickets 4 Feb Twickenham Stadium Twickenham, UK
Italy v Wales Tickets 5 Feb Stadio Olimpico Rome, Italy