The games completed thus far include:
- France 17 – 38 Ireland
- Wales 26 – 27 Scotland
- Italy 24 – 27 England
Below are a few key questions that came to mind as we evaluated the completion of the first week’s play:
- Who is the most dominant and the early favorite between France and Ireland?
- Can any of the other 4 catch them during this season?
- Who will get the wooden spoon?
- There has been a massive intensity from all teams so far; will they be competitive against the South Hemisphere teams?
- Who was the standout player of the weekend?
- What can we expect from this coming weekend’s fixtures before the teams go on break?
Who is the most dominant and the early favorite between France and Ireland?
Based on Saturday’s performance you would have to say Ireland.
It would have been very interesting to see how France would have done if they had 15 players on the field for the whole game.
That being said, Ireland remains the most amazing team in terms of discipline on defense.
They got a yellow card in the game but it was their 3rd one in 3 years almost!
If Ireland can do it, so can the other teams.
Can any of the other 4 catch the Irish this season?
No. Not in 2024, but, based on the results, it’s safe to say that it is going to be VERY tight over the next few weeks.
If Italy puts together 80 minutes like they did in their first 40 minutes, they can potentially upset either Wales or Scotland.
Having said that, if Wales play like they did in their comeback, England and Italy are in for a tough one.
Who will get the wooden spoon?
In my professional opinion, I predict a close call between Italy and Wales.
There has been a massive intensity from all teams so far, will they be competitive against the South Hemisphere teams?
Most definitely! All of the Southern Hemisphere teams have new head coaches… well South Africa’s coach is not exactly spanking brand new.
In 2024 things will look a little different but there shouldn’t be too much read into that. Teams are rebuilding and regrouping all around the globe after their respective World Cup tournament efforts.
Who was the standout player of the weekend?
Although neither of them got man of the man, I would have to say that it should be shared between two Irish players, namely:
- Jamison Gibson-Park played a pivotal role in connecting play and not just in a standard distribution role from set pieces, rucks, and mauls. He ran clever lines to create options for his team to play back in the other direction and one of these resulted in his try.
- Tadhg Beirne was the forward of the week in my opinion. Not for the try he scored, which was amazing by the way, but for his relentless work at the contact points.
What can we expect from this coming weekend’s fixtures before the teams go on break?
This coming weekend there are two fixtures that could get really interesting.
The Ireland vs Italy game is not going to be that fixture; it should be a one-sided affair in favor of Ireland.
The England vs Wales game should go England’s way, but Wales will go into this game with far greater confidence than they’ve had for a long time. The abilities they displayed in their chase against Scotland were very impressive, and England had a spotty performance, to say the least.
Scotland vs France should be an interesting one and it starts the action this coming weekend! France will be wounded from their loss against Ireland and should come out guns blazing. Scotland got a real scare against Wales and will play a far more clinical game. Keep in mind this game is played at Murrayfield.
Overall we are in for an interesting weekend as the 6 teams all fight for different goals:
I am fairly confident listing the following game goals:
- France & Ireland will fight for domination of the tournament.
- England will fight to regain glory and recapture some of the unexpectedly good results from the Rugby World Cup.
- Wales will work hard to retain some level of respectability, and I am sure they will do their best to keep it there.
- Scotland will fight to live up to the hype of the exciting rugby that they have promised but have often failed to deliver consistently.
- Italy will fight to pick up a win or two along the way and earn some additional respect points.
This concludes our recap for the first week of this exciting tournament. As a new year of international rugby kicked off (pun intended), we look forward to bringing you updates, insights, and commentary on all the games to come!