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Six Nations Preview: 5 live Sport

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Andy Dill | 15:51 UK time, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

The Edinburgh skyline

 

By BBC Sport producer Steve Jones: The events of the Rugby World Cup have left us with one of the most intriguing Six Nations in years, with experts struggling to predict the opening weekend, let alone an eventual winner.

Matt Dawson – who has beaten Scotland at Murrayfield, and lost there as England captain when chasing a Grand Slam – will present a special preview programme from Edinburgh on Thursday night in 5 live Sport, which will be available on the red button and here on this website. He says he can’t wait for the championship to get underway.

“Every year the tournament is so unpredictable and the Grand Slam is so elusive. Underdogs become more dangerous than favourites and a team on paper is somewhat irrelevant.”

The programme will come from Watsonians Rugby Club in Edinburgh, where so many Scotland internationals have played. It’s also where the BBC’s rugby union correspondent Ian Robertson made his name, and where Sir Chris Hoy used to play at outside-half before he realised he was such a good cyclist.

Matt Dawson’s house band will be the Stockbridge Pipe Band, so expect to hear “Flower of Scotland” and “Scotland the Brave” played with vigour.

Another of Matt’s guests will be Scotland head coach Andy Robinson, who stands by his “arrogant England” comments ahead of Saturday’s Calcutta Cup. “We have to start winning” he says, and victory over his former employers would be a great start.

 

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson

 

The man currently in charge of England (and for how long we’re not sure) has a new captain, some fresh faces and Charlie Hodgson. Stuart Lancaster’s “new England” will be thrown in at the Murrayfield deep end, but for all the talk of changing attitudes and new-found passion, in sport we’re reminded that teams are “only as good as their last game”. England’s last match in Auckland led to the demise of Martin Johnson.

There are other big names missing from this year’s championship as well, not just Johnson.

Wales are young, hungry and have momentum from their time in New Zealand. What Wales don’t have is the retired Shane Williams, their record try scorer– so often their magician when rabbits needed removing from hats.

The Heineken Cup tells us plenty about the Irish challenge. Munster, Leinster and Ulster are among Europe’s elite, which should fill Dublin’s home dressing room with confidence on Sunday for their opener against Wales. There’ll be no pre-match team talk from Brian O’Driscoll, though - Ireland’s talisman is injured, but Declan Kidney has named so many potential heroes in his squad.

France are still France - ever unpredictable, just with a new coach this time around. Philippe Saint Andre has replaced the mad/genius (delete where applicable) Marc Lievremont and has named a strong side for the opening match against Italy - who memorably beat the French last year.

Without Lievremont, Johnson, O’Driscoll or Williams there could be a new name written into the history of this most prestigious of championships. Who that figure could be, only the next few dramatic weeks will tell us. Matt Dawson believes the games certainly bring out the best in players:

“ Playing for your country in a competition steeped in so much history produces superhuman performances and dazzling displays of brilliance.”

And it’s not just a special time of year for those on the pitch. There’s always plenty of friendly rivalry amongst fans which gives the tournament its unique feel.

“The car park picnics, supporters swigging on hip flasks and mingling in the pub swapping kilts for berets. What can sometimes be a chilly miserable time of year flies by”, he says.

Amongst Matt’s other guests will be Brian Moore, Gavin Hastings and Chris Paterson.

The Six Nations preview is on air from 7.30pm on Thursday night - you can listen to the show on BBC Radio 5 live, via the red button or here on the 5 live website.

Steve Jones is a BBC Radio Sport producer.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Looking forward to the Six Nations coverage as ever and this preview should be good.

    Is Jonny Saunders going to be part of the commentary team? I thought he had finished with sports broadcasting but his name appears in the BBC press release. Is this a mistake or is he doing some freelance work?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hello David - me too and ... so is my 84 yr old mother a recent convert to watching rugby union!

  • Comment number 3.

    Ah rugby union, my passion. Come on England, and I don't want to hear any more of that arrogant England stuff, these young lads in the new England team are going on a learning curve and everyone recognises that, apart from Andy Robinson. I will be there and I will be supporting England with my whole heart, whilst sniggering inwardly during that Flower of Scotland stuff.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hi Sarnia, nice to hear from you, excellent stuff never too old to see the light!

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm looking forward to it, it really does look different this year. England look interesting and Lancaster says all the right things; Wales are exciting and great to watch; Ireland and France unpredicable; Italy all change and Scotland, my team, have picked him again ...............aaaah.

  • Comment number 6.

    For me the Six Nations has to be one of the highlights of any sporting year.Its always entertaining and competitive and you hardly ever get a dull game.Puts football too shame.Been a Moseley Rugby supporter for decades, always a pleasure to go see a rugby match whatever the score maybe.

  • Comment number 7.

    @3 "I don't want to hear any more of that arrogant England stuff... whilst sniggering inwardly during that Flower of Scotland stuff."

    is this a deliberate juxtaposition to throw us all off, or an unintended irony?

    Anyway can't wait as always for this year, I am a proud Welshman but I fear the endeavours of our World Cup will be brought to Earth with a bump this year. Ireland away, I fancy the Irish, I also think France and England will give us too much this year, Scotland are always tough as are the improving Italy. My fancy for the shooting match is England. I think finally they have the right coach and focussed disciplined playing personnel, France will be a close second.

  • Comment number 8.

    No, just get fed up with everyone in the other nations saying England are arrogant, it is out of date! Just ridiculous Robinson saying the same boring thing. England are rebuilding and have few expectations for this season unless someone plays really badly and lets them in with a chance. (Hope so!) As for Flower of Scotland, I would never show open disdain for any anthem, the words are a bit daft, you must admit. I am for Scottish independence, I think they should have it as soon as!

    By the way Ginger, I used to watch Moseley when I lived in Birmingham.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nice one carrie.Used to go down to the Reddings alot and even dragged my kids along, much to their annoyance.After Moseley went bust and had to sell the ground, they moved to Birmingham University ( just around the corner from me ) but it wasn't quite the same atmosphere.They have set up home at Billesley Common now.I do still follow them and go occasionly.Always a good and well behaved crowd down there.

  • Comment number 10.

    Well as I said I am going to the match tomorrow to cheer on England. Support Villa but love rugby most. Feel sorry for the great turf out of many 6 Nations players, and think Cueto has been hard done by, plus sad to see Chris Paterson retire. But a new crop of young rugby players will breathe some life in to this year's contests.

  • Comment number 11.

    an enjoyable start to the 6 nations - great stuff!

 

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