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Singing the praises of the Six Nations

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John Beattie | 10:53 UK time, Monday, 29 March 2010

Isn't Rome the best Six Nations venue? A friend says it has to be Cardiff, where there is a place nicknamed the Parachute Club, but what do you think?

The Six Nations is over. Damn, damn, damn and blast, what the heck do I do for the next eleven months? It is without question the best rugby tournament in the world.

Ever since I was a little boy, ushered through to listen to Bill McLaren with my glass of milk and ham sandwich, the annual northern hemisphere rugby tournament has been the highlight of my calendar.

Even if Pamela Anderson had tried to divert me, I am pretty sure I'd have chosen rugby over anything else.

My wife claims lots of things don't last long enough and the Six Nations is right up there.

scotsfans595.jpgAnd the real beauty of the tournament? Unpredictability, that's what.

The key player? My Lazarus award of the year goes to Dan Parks, who went from outcast to arguably the tournament's most valuable player winning three man of the match awards.

Former Irish second row Neil Francis doesn't like the Scots and said of Parks: "He has been as useful as a one-armed trapeze artist with an itchy arse." That is a line of which I would have been proud but it was way off the mark as Parks sealed a win in Dublin with a kick that defied belief.

The lads from my rugby club, West of Scotland, put their beer money on a Scotland win at 8 to 1. It made for a great evening in the world's most expensive city.

Best trip? Rome. The Italians would make a big mistake if they were to ever change the venue of their home games. The ground is a walk from the city centre. The city centre is beautiful. And rugby is making inroads into Italy.

And that restaurant near the Piazza Navona that just brings out tray upon tray of food, is brilliant, from what I can remember...

Best brand of rugby? When I was a wee boy it was the Welsh, and it still is. I think Shane Williams is worth the entrance fee and I love the ambition of the Welsh team. The Wales v Scotland thriller was a classic.

Saddest moment? I like to think my game is safe. The injury to Thom Evans in Cardiff was terrible, but it was quick thinking by doc James Robson that ensured the outcome was good and I wish Thom well in his recovery.

The in-fighting award? England. If I were England I would give Martin Johnson more time as he will be a success. I have no doubt about that. That man has too much class to fail.

The Six Nations is the greatest. Fans can travel to each venue with a little effort and in rugby we still mix in peace before, during, and after the game which is why I love the sport. And why I don't quite understand football, although I respect the game.

Only two more years to wait for a return to Rome, two more years until the next Dublin trip, and Paris next year. If spared, of course. Thumbs, twiddle, begin.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Agree with Rome as the best venue. The eternal city is pretty hard to beat... cheap too if you know where to go.

  • Comment number 2.

    Cobblers. The Heineken Cup urinates on the Six Nations from a great height.

    Club rugby is a better spectacle then Test rugby. Real teams who work together week-in, week-out, in front of real fans instead of part-time corporates who couldn't care less.

    This years six nations was poor. Last year it was worse. It's been like that since 2005.

  • Comment number 3.

    The Heineken Cup is definitely the best competition in the northern hemisphere and much harder to win, the quality of the six nations was poor this year. But the heineken cup was as good as ever this year with the some of the best players in world rugby.

  • Comment number 4.

    I never understand how club rugby could be considered a pinnacle. At the end of the day the Heineken cup is a club rugby competition - extremely competitive and of a high standard - but it isn't international rugby. International rugby is the pinnacle and is the pinnacle for both players and the majority of supporters and for me the 6 nations is a good tournament but not the best.

    For me the RWC has now overtaken the 6 nations as the best tournament however I always thoroughly enjoy the 6 nations.

    The corporates are in all levels of rugby including club rugby and it is impossible to run professional rugby without them. It may not be what we want but it is fact!

    What frustrates me is the lack of structure to the season and this is at all levels. I'm playing in England and playing league rugby. During this seasons 6 nations we had a game almost every Saturday and we did get 2 teams out every week however we recorded the 6 nations games. This also happens in the Guinness Premiership and the Magners and I think it devalues those competitions as the best players aren't available.

    Personally I want to play rugby on a saturday and watch the internationals. When are the powers that be going to structure the season properly so that players and fans can be properly looked after?

  • Comment number 5.

    Cardiff- Went to the Parachute Club, but unfortunately nobody got to jump this year!

  • Comment number 6.

    6 Nations has loyal fans to watch some pretty poor rugby sometimes back-to-back.

    As an Australian living in the UK, and having been to each venue, it's impossible to call the 6 Nations the best in the world. Tri-Nations all the way I'm sorry. Best players + best rugby = best tournament

  • Comment number 7.

    John my boy - you finally found a way to get a hyperlink to Pamela Anderson's website into your blog. I can do nothing but salute you. And hope for your sake that Mrs Beattie doesn't read your page.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Welshman living in London, the 6 nations is the part of the year that I miss the most. After excess of spending, eating, drinking at Christmas/New Year, January always brings purges to correct your weight/liver/bank balance. The real sign of the New Year is the start of the 6 Nations whcih feels more like a festival than a tournament. Even the build-up with people expectantly talking up our chances etc cheers you up at that time of year.

    Best trip has to be Dublin, although I have a vague memory of a Scottish equivalent of the parachute club which I think was somewhere in Leith (alcoholic stupors render me unable to remember exact name, location etc).

    I think this years was a bit sub-par playing wise, but then again that usually happens post-lions tours. The French deserved to win but I confidently expect Wales & Ireland to improve by next year. Scotland were much improved this year, but the difference between success & failure has always been marginal for them as a result of a lack of cutting edge rather than any problem which ran through the whole team. Their forwards have always been good, they just need that one player to spark the back line, just like Ireland pre-O'Driscoll. This could equally apply to italy, so let's hope they both find their BOD in the next few years and then we will see some good six nations

  • Comment number 9.

    Well pretty much any game not involving the turgid England was exciting, and it's definitely good that the distance between teams is shrinking. All we need now is the Italians (and Scots) to up their game a bit to the level of the others and potentially any of the 6 could win it as let's be honest, no-one thought Scotland or Italy could win it.

  • Comment number 10.

    I thought the standard was very poor this year. The best game for excitement value WAS the Wales versus Scotland match, but so frustrating for us Jocks (We should be used to that though).
    The last match, between the two "big" teams was an absolute boredom fest, as was most other games. The rules are so open to interpretation that every match is a stop-start-let's-have-a-wee-break-for-a-penalty affair. The scrums are dire, and take up huge amounts of precious time (perhaps the clock should be stopped for the setting and duration of a scrum?), and the referees are now on-field commentator and player advisers. Advice such as "now don't go in there seven-hands off eight-get back blues" etc etc etc etc etc etc etc!!!!! It's dull, dull, dull. If the players don't know the rules, why are they playing at international level?
    Excitement score this year? 2 out of 10 (Same as the skill level).

  • Comment number 11.

    The Six Nations is far more exciting than the Heineken Cup for me. If I was a Munster supporter I would probably think differently.

    The history of the tournament, idiosyncrasy, animosities and healthy rivalries are like nothing else in the sporting calendar. The Heineken is good but is modeling itself to closely on the champions league and will soon be over commercialised. National sport just about manages to cut through all that (football World Cup included). Not to mention you have to support a big club to really enjoy the glory of the Heineken - if you are a grass roots supporter the international game is most intense for fans.

    As for the tri-nations bore fest of teams playing each other three times... you can keep it. The format of the six nations is perfect - i hope they don't fiddle with it.

  • Comment number 12.

    John,

    Fish and Chips. March 20th 1971.

    Yes, it is the greatest rugby tournament!

    Thank you

  • Comment number 13.

    The Six Nations is without doubt the best tourney in Rugby. It may just be the best tourney in sport. I look forward to it with great anticipation each year; feeling the excitement of a five year old on Christmas Eve. Moreover, when it's over I have major withdrawal symptoms; a blue funk you might say!

    As far as Neil Francis is concerned (you raised the subject, John): he's a bigot, plain and simple. He doesn’t like Scots or Scotland. During the last RWC in France he was asked, as part of the Setanta panel, to predict the winner of a game between Scotland (and I forget the opponents on the day, but I think it was Italy).

    This was his answer...and I kid you not! He said "I didn't like the way that the Scottish players didn't support Ronan O’Gara in his time of need. (O'Gara was being hit in the media about his alleged gambling problems, at the time). So I can't wish Scotland anything but defeat."

    Other panel members said, "That hardly qualifies as a reason for Scotland to lose” Francis replied..."It's how I feel about Scotland".

    Francis is an idiot! The Six Nations is great! Need I say more?

  • Comment number 14.

    njt221 - on March 20th 1971 Scotland beat England at Twickenham, is this what you mean, Peter Brown's conversion, the turn of the back, the blow of the nose?

    101 you have to be kidding? The European cup greater than country against country? I don't agree.

    LittleRew - actually, you may have a point in saying the world cup is great. Can't wait for 2011. But as far as the best annual tournament is concerned it's the Six Nations.

    Allan , hawkeyethejock- I think you are probably right about the standard of some of the games - but I will remember the great ones.

    Good to be back in Scotland.

    JB

  • Comment number 15.

    'The in-fighting award? England. If I were England I would give Martin Johnson more time as he will be a success. I have no doubt about that. That man has too much class to fail.'

    Was this sarcasm? If it wasn't then I totally disagree. With MJ, England will do very badly, which would work out well for Scotland, come the World Cup, which is why I can't tell if you're being sarcastic lol.

    Francis sounds like a berk.

    O'Gara is a grown man and he can wipe his own backside. Or if he can't, it's his problem. Boo hoo, if he wants to throw away his money.

    O'Gara makes a fortune, probably has a beautiful family and plays rugby for a living. Francis expecting sympathy from the Scots is childish and mentally defective in the extreme. I will save my tears for people who deserve them.

    Enjoy the brilliant comeback in the Scotsman:
    "Changing room chat: Send in the clowns, it's Neil Francis

    NEIL Francis isn't a fan of Scottish rugby. In 2004, after Ireland's 37-16 win in Dublin, the former Irish international described the Scots as "professional disablers ... the equivalent of a rugby prevention unit. They are such a poor side that you wonder whether they would be good enough to spoil proficiently. At maul time, Scotland were a disgrace."

    He was at it again in 2008, after Ireland won 34-13 at Croke Park. "Without reservation one of the worst international teams I have ever seen," he wrote, describing Scotland as "clueless," "toothless," "ugly" and "crap".

    So it would have been a disappointment had he come over all generous after Scotland's win on Saturday. In a "disastrous" match, wrote Francis, "Scotland, as usual, had a constipation of ideas in midfield."

    He added: "It is a sad reflection on the standard of the championship that Dan Parks should win three man-of-the-match awards. In some of the games that I have seen him play in the Magners League, he has been as useful as a one-armed trapeze artist with an itchy arse."

    Thank you, Neil Francis, 36 caps for Ireland. Played Scotland six times, drew one, lost five, including the 10-16 defeat in 1996 – after which he never played for his country again. Shame."

    In another article he calls Euan Murray 'Euan Kennedy' and describes Scotland prospects vs Ireland.

    "In the vernacular there are 262 alternatives for the word sh1te but none of them can even come close to describing how bad the Scotland v Italy match was, or indeed how dreadfully ordinary Scotland are. Everybody talks about how brilliant Scotland will be now that they have Euan Kennedy back. In my experience I have never seen a tight-head prop win a match for his team. The match will be won in the out-field."

    Hmm...

    And yes, the Six Nations is the best by far. Why? It's the beautiful cities, the cameraderie and the warfare.

  • Comment number 16.

    If you honestly believe the quality of the rugby thrown up was of a higher standard at any point in the 6 nations then it has been in most of this years HEC already, there's clear bias in your opinion.

    When it comes to the passion and sheer desire of the fans also, watch Northampton vs Munster, Irish vs Leinster or Clermont vs Leicester. Nothing in the 6 nations can touch it.

    - The English fans are all prawn sandwiches and don't normally follow the game - Most fan are fed up because they'll know we're never likely to actually get a ticket for a match, Barons billionaires sitting in the seats instead.
    - The Welsh tend to only enjoy it when they're winning.
    - The Scottish only got into the Murrayfield match because they'll support anything against England. The booing of English injured players confirmed this.
    - "Irish by Birth, Munster by the grace of God"... Says enough.
    - The Italians only have the national team to cheer, the domestic game is far too small.
    - The French would still have a party at Stade de France even if the Third Reich came back as Zombies and rolled on into Paris.

    Club fans are there through thick or thin and are like passionate soccer fans (without the pathetic tribalism). "Fans" of the national team are a bunch of Jonny come Lateleys who only think rugby happens during the Autumn and spring for test matches.

  • Comment number 17.

    101 - where did you get this booing of injured English players? It didn't happen. Originally there was supposed to be an allegation of cheering English injuries - which did not happen, while there was some booing of England's goal kicks. I can't agree that the European cup is bigger than the Six Nations.

    Scotsevensnutjob - I did read the Scotsman. Trouble is Neil Francis was a friendly lad when he played - I don't know where this anti Scottish stuff came from.

    JB

  • Comment number 18.

    101
    Thats one of the worst, most myopic rugby posts I've read on these boards and I've read some toilet.

    "The English fans are all prawn sandwiches and don't normally follow the game"

    Are they? All of them? Even the ones who also support Leicester and Saints and Irish etc who also like international rugby? The international game is accessible to a wider public - that doesn't mean you can deride everyone who likes it... show some respect for other people man and grow up.

  • Comment number 19.


    From reading 101 critisim of every nation in the 6N he sounds to be like a bitter australian rugby league fan who just registered an account so he could add some dumb ignorant clueless rugby comments to try be little the sport!

    Grow up kid and make some intelligent comments!

  • Comment number 20.

    101 - "Munster by the Grace of God", well, I was at the HC Final at Cardiff in 2008 and believe me there were a good deal of "Munster" fans who were not "Munster by the Grace of God" at all, they were supporting a winning team, end of and they hailed from, to quote Phil Coulter the "Four Proud Provinces of Ireland!".

    Your posts sound more like someone who has gained his knowledge of interntational rugby supporters solely from one eyed forum contributers! I'd like you to head to Gloucester, Bath, Northampton, et al and accuse them of all being "prawn sandwich eaters".

    As for Neil Francis, wasn't he the bloke that selected himself in the Greatest ever Irish XV, humble chap!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    JB

    Why yes, yes I do!

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree John, the 6 Nations has always been the highlight of my sporting year. I always get away to see at least one Scottish game! I remember shouting for the boys in Rome and Kelly Brown looking up and seeing me in my kilt shouting like a mad thing! He gave me the thumbs up which made my trip :P

    Parks was awesome and I was one of his harshest critics, but credit where credits due he done well. Long may it continue. Well you might not be able to say it John but your son was awesome!!!!! That try showed everything, awareness, power and vision. Fantastic player, Simon Taylor will struggle to usurp him should he ever return.

    Great tournament, loved every minute of it.

    p.s. also put money on us to win in Croke! £75 !!!! Come on the Brave! :)

  • Comment number 23.

    Personally, I struggle to objectively appraise the six nations, but I know one thing, I love it more than any other sporting event. For all I know the Tri Nations is techincally better, but I know I'd rather watch any of the 6 nations games.

    That special feeing in Rome, Cardiff, Twickenham, Edinburgh, Paris or Dublin does not get replicated elsewhere. I've been in cities where the Heiny cup final and French Cup final have taken place and have loved the buzz (on that one day), but there's nothing like the buzz of a 6 nations weekend (and it is that - a full weekend of brilliant excess, watching the other games and having silly conversations with Welsh, English,Scottish and Irish fans at 4am in the morning).

    Oh, and Neil Francis is a bigot, end of. His anti-Scot bias is embarassing and it extends to his hatred of the Ulster side also. He's a nasty piece of work. I'm all for opinionated pundits, but his myopia is rather sad to say thr least.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have to agree the six nations is incredibly exciting (even with dull spectacles of rugby - yes i know that sounds contradictory!) more for the banter within the pubs and teh excitement and atmosphere and cheers as someone (lewis moody against france springs to mind) gets hit by a humongous tackle, or a sparkle of brilliance (Canavoisio for italy against france - even though the game was over on the scoreboard) results in a try, or quick ball and good hands and intelligent play and pace puts someone it at the corner (Foden v France, about the only time England managed it but it was still a joy to watch that try), these are the best players from the northern hemisphere coming together to create an exciting tourney for their countries fans, Italy are great to watch and the only game they capitulated in was France (lets be honest all the others they held their ground well and frustrated the sides they played, people have criticised their opposition and whilst at times that is justified you are taking credit away from a side that deserves it, they have come on leaps and bounds!) Scotland are exciting with for me the best back row in the northern hemisphere, england have a wealth of talent (but are finding it difficult to gel, time is what they need) Wales have an exciting backline while the Irish have a strong dependable old guard throughout their team to push any nation on their day. Lest we forget this years Grand Slammers, they strolled through all their matches with flair and ambivolence, save one, England, who saved a performance til the last (shame we didnt have a few more like that in us!) and ran the french to the wire.
    But for all the excitement there is one crucial flaw, one thing that grates me, and it has been mentioend above, and in other articles, they talk about fans watching these games and attending the premiership matches (and Championship) and its been noted that the average attendance this year stands at 13000, higher than last years 11000 av attendance, but they forget one crucial thing, those fans that love rugby, if they are aged between 17 and 40 the chances are they are still playing, how many grassroots players out there would love to go watch their local big side (for me Doncaster Knights or Newcastle Falcons would be ones to attend regular) but are unable to because they play on saturdays too. The only knights games i attend are those on a friday evening or a sunday, which isnt many. How many more hundreds or even thousands would walk through the gates of stadiums throughout the country, you think of all the 'regional leagues' nationwide, how many clubs are in those leagues and how many players are in those clubs (and fans loyal to those clubs as well) and if you take just half of those that might go to the bigger clubs if they were able that is a huge fanbase missing from the seats of stadiums throughout BI, France and Italy. its no good having the odd game here and there on a friday or sunday (3 or 4 in a season) Fans want to be loyal, if they are going to attend they want to go often, they want to see their 'father' clubs improve throughout the seasons only being able to attend one or two a season because im a player myself hardly seems worth it, and the consensus from felllow players at my club and other local clubs is the same.
    secondly, and this is just a thought, but if the premiership clubs and euro clubs played more on a sunday, that means they are less likely to 'clash' with the more popular football (what about those footy fans who like a bit of rugby too, would some of their contingent also find time to watch rugby matches if they didnt clash so much with their beloved football?) perhaps more matches might then also become televised (opening up sponsorship deals and tv rights deals for the clubs more) surely this action could only bring in more money to the sport through the gates and through sponsorship. Am i wrong? Surely not, surely eliminating a possible huge fanbase of 17-40 year olds simply because they love the sport (and thus play it themselves through grassroots) is a grave error????
    I hate to admit it but football learnt this by putting their grassroots games on a sunday and most matches on a saturday so they didnt clash.....

    Comments please!!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    No doubt about it for me, the best annual tournament of any sport, but then I am sure, those who support other sports or rugby in the SH would say the same about their choice. Nothing in my experience comes close to a weekend in Rome for example and the game, in some respects is only but one element of the Six Nations.

    In regards to the games themselves, Dan Parks deserves all the plaudits that come his way given the criticism he has received in previous seasons. The back row have been fantastic both individually and as a unit and can only be strengthened with the fit again Simon Taylor and Alisdair Strokosh fighting for places.

    Concerning the HC, it is obviously a strong tournament but for me, without the national identity. I live in Portsmouth so the nearest club is London Irish, a side I have no affinity with but will go, on occasion, to watch. Outside of these, there is of course, on May 1st, the Army v Navy match which unfortunately has been somewhat uncompetitive in recent times and I am now transgressing massively....

  • Comment number 26.

    To everyone who apparently got the wrong end of the stick, the "English prawn sandwiches" is in reference to the majority of the Twickenham crowds who don't attend regular club rugby and see it as a jolly good day out thanks to corporate hospitality. The real English rugby fans (for the vast majority) part will be at their club grounds cheering their team even if the test match happens to be played at the same time.

  • Comment number 27.

    101
    The majority of the Twickenham crowd are not there on corporate hospitality. I'm not saying there isn't an issue with that side of things but you can't just slander those going to see an international rugby match because you prefer club rugby. The facts are that international rugby appeals to far greater numbers than club rugby - that might mean some supporters who don't go and watch a club every week but that isn't a problem is it? Surely a broad appeal is healthy for the game?

    And thats just dealing with your comments about Twickenham... you were pretty unreasonably spikey about all six nations teams.

  • Comment number 28.

    rickydoncaster - yup, have always said that one problem with big rugby games is that up and down the country, on those days, youngsters are playing rugby. I suppose broadcast rights come into it and you will see that the BBC for instance spread games across the weekend to get the biggest exposure. It is a failing in rugby that players play club games and school games when big games are on

    101 - corporate hospitality can be an issue, but I remember asking the SRU a long time ago how many corporate tickets there are at Murrayfield and it's not very many. I would assume that Twickenham is thesame with far fewer corporate tickets than you would imagine. Aside from which corporate backing is key to any sport and those whose companies invest in the sport deserve seats. The vast majority of people at a big rugby game are fans.

    JB

  • Comment number 29.

    Purely on the history, rivalry and out right passion the 6 Nations for me is the best tournament in the world! and i think any real patriot will feel the same as it doesnt matter how passionate you are about your club, your country comes 1st! We have a 2 sayings in wales, Cymru am byth (Wales for ever) and British by birth, Welsh by the grace of god! For my sins I have always been a Cardiff fan but when the 6 nations comes around my country come 1st!

    The quality of rugby in the tri nations is of a higher standard but i quite simply dont care about who wins between the southern hemisphere teams.

    101 - you're entitled to your opinions (as miss guided and deluded as they may be) in my opinion the Heineken museum in Amsterdam was far better than the Heineken cup!

    On the Dan Parks as player of the tournament thing, i'd say most improved! dont think that can be disputed, but best player is tough, what about Shane Williams, Stephen Jones???? (NOW YOU CAN START THE "HE'S A BIASED WELSHMAN" COMMENTS)

    I cant wait for next years tournament, i'm already getting excited!

    p.s. PL_thirds, two things you should never admit to

    1) that you went to the parachute club! aka club rumours (as rumour has it)
    2) that you didnt get any action! its a guarentee in that place! (as rumour has it)

  • Comment number 30.

    Regarding 'Corporate' tickets at twickenham, i will be honest as a player i tend to get tickets for at least one twickenham six nations match, this year was the first i didnt, i'll be honest and say ive never had much of an issue getting twickenham tickets (except the prices!) Tickets are readily available for most players/fans associated with clubs throughout the country if the club has 'an account' with twickenham, this means that the majority of tickets sold are for actual players of the sport themselves, or at least heavily involved with clubs, then a large majority of those left tend to go through ballot (if im mistaken please correct me) with the ERSC (England Rugby Supporters Club) meaning that large numbers go to genuine fans, with a small remaining portion going to ticket resalers (ticketmaster) for sale to the general public. My twickenham experiences (going back over the last 12 years) have always encountered genuine fans, and most people i see milling about are players or former players themselves, yes i agree it is difficult for Joe Public to get a ticket, but not so much if he involved with the sport first. There will always be corporate tickets and boxes sold, and financially these will provide the backbone of income for the matches, however the proportion of tickets sold to these people is nominal in my experience (having also spent time in corporate boxes myself, where i might add, the corporate clientele have been, in my experience, former players and lovers of the game anyway, as well as being successful business people) so i feel the 'prawn sandwich' comment referred to twickenham goers is not only harsh but also unjustified when referring to the commercial ticket holders as well.
    Just my opinion though based on my experiences.

  • Comment number 31.

    hahahaha the best Rugby Tournament in the world - only someone from the uk could say that. IT is clearly Not. I find it offensive that your so biased.

  • Comment number 32.

    Zabractor - I find your myopic squirt of vitriol and appalling punctuation offensive, but we can't have everything in life, can we?

  • Comment number 33.

    Obviously haven't watched too many Super 14 or Tri Nations matches - far more entertaining. Six nations is a good tournament but get a grip - most of the games were dead set boring.

  • Comment number 34.

    Zabractor - it is you know, it is...... Pray tell which one is in your opinion


    Back from coaching at West, very, very wet indeed

    JB

  • Comment number 35.

    Zabractor
    I think this blog was aimed at rugby fans in the UK as the six nations is played by all countries of the UK. I find you offensive.

  • Comment number 36.

    Its quite simple really (bit like Zabractor), I am from Wales so I have more of an interest in a tournament which involves my team and other british teams. This is because I have more of a draw through my patriotism to the six nations, I care more, making the six nations the best tournament in the world, to me!

    If I was from Aus, NZ or SA then I would want to watch and have more interest, passion, etc. for the Tri nations.

    Each to their own I guess.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think that 6N is the greatest show on earth. I grew up in Ireland with football, supported my local team and not an English team (nothing against those who do). I am fan who originally thought that the 6N was good telly but nothing more, it has now become far more important to me than football and, JB, I share your feeling of emptyness that its over.

    My point is that there is no problem with anyone going and enjoying sport and more particularly rugby. If thats me at the game with a new found joy or a Banker who is having his first look, whats the problem 101? - Did you book cheap seats and found yourself behind the buffet table with the prawn sandwiches ruining the view!!

    Its all exposure to an audience that might not have found out about the game any other way, and that can only be benifcial.

  • Comment number 38.

    IN FACT - I can't think of a better sporting tournament in any sport anywhere else in the world. The Six Nations has rugby, passionate but peaceful fans living incredibly close together, and unpredictability. What the heck more could anyone ask. Is there a better tournament in the world....

    JB

  • Comment number 39.

    The football world cup has one or two fans but 6N for me.

  • Comment number 40.

    The football world cup is a great spectacle but for sheer passion without any trouble the 6N edges it for me

  • Comment number 41.

    JB,

    How do you think professionalism has changed the game and do you think that Rugby changing into professionalism been a success?

    Just interested to hear your views on the matter even though it may not be relevant to the article.

  • Comment number 42.

    Morning John,

    A pleasure as always to read your blog.

    My question is this - great as the Six Nations is, its current operation as a 'closed shop' is stifling the development of rugby elsewhere in Europe. Countries such as Georgia, Russia, Romania and Portugal are improving all the time and ultimately need to be given a chance at the top table - at what point in the future do you see the Six Nations expanding into a true European Championship?

    My suggestion would be two groups of four - semi-finals then final like the odd European football championships pre 1996. It could run halfway through the RWC cycle - 2013/2017 etc. The 6N could run in every other year. What do you think? Time to give Georgia & Russia (what an opportunity for rugby the latter is!) a chance?

    All the best, and keep up the great work with the blog.

    Tommy

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi Tommy
    Sounds like a complete financial disaster for Scottish rugby.

  • Comment number 44.

    Tigers 99 - complicated - it was always going to go professional, the players are better, some of the extraordinary skills are better, the tackling is better, the game is marketed better, the coverage is better, But the space has been cut down because the players are bigger and stronger and fitter and so it's more of a collision game I guess. Has it changed the game for the better? i think the game has different attributes now. It was Bill McLaren who always said rugby should be a diversion from the daily grind rather than the daily grind. Let me chew on it. I wonder what folk think. To me the best days were in the seventies because that was when I grew up but kids now will love the game today.

    Tommy L_35 - I think it will expand one day. not soon as we probably can't afford it but I think we should have brought Argentina in for instance as they offered to play in Spain if I remember correctly.

    JB

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi again JB,
    I think adding teams to the 6Nations suggests it's not good enough as it stands... so personally I do think it's the best for entertainment, drama and I still think the quality is good, also the matches are often pretty close.
    In the Tri-Nations one team dominates, and there's only three teams so they play each other three times or something like that? what is that all about? I look forward to Argentina joining the Tri-Nations as they play differently (in my opinion) and it should make it a bit more interesting.
    However 6Nations is still top dog for me, I'd go as far as to say that I enjoy it more than a Rugby World Cup as you have mentioned John there is something special about our Championship/Tournament.

    Also I think professionalism has had almost the converse effect in Scotland with us falling behind- we were perhaps the least prepared for it and with a lot of our (relatively small) population spread about it does make it hard to generate money and be successful, but I'd hope that a third team would surface/re-surface on the back of corporate investiture, I know if I had the money I would back it. There must be some rugby enthusiasts out there with a bit of money or enough people with a fair bit of money who can combine. Maybe I'm in fantasy land though now...

  • Comment number 46.

    John, loving the laser kicking tee story http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/scotland/8598679.stm You almost had me!

  • Comment number 47.

  • Comment number 48.

    Fantastic laser tee story - getting Dan "The Man" and Al Kellock involved is a stroke of genius. Oh, by the way, are these on sale anywhere, maybe from 1st April?

  • Comment number 49.

    Ok, it’s after mid day and so it’s hands up time, it was a laser guided kicking spoof. But as I interviewed Dan Parks it did seem to me that his season has been extraordinary, and he has gone from being the outsider in terms of Scotland to the key player. He is our country’s most valuable players now.

    He doesn’t use a laser guided kicking tee, he just lines the ball up the way he has done since growing up as a little boy in Sydney and kicks it over the posts. Time was he used a pile of sand, but now it’s a kicking tee he bought in Leeds some ten years ago.

    Why is Parks so valuable? Well, I watched Glasgow training yesterday and he is unfailingly happy at his work. Dan Parks was the man joking and laughing, getting stuck in and chatting away. In short, he is the perfect team man.

    Secondly he keeps a scoreboard ticking over. There is nobody else in European rugby who does what he does with a ball.

    There might be a bigger topic in terms of technology coming into rugby though. It is just possible that a laser might help a player, but I doubt it. We use scrummage machines to practice, but we play against bodies. A rugby boot won’t help you run, sticky gum might help you catch but it probably won’t make you a better player. Shoulder pads might engender heroism, but the best tacklers don’t wear them.

    Aside from using technology to see if a score has been made, or reviewing footage to check for foul play, rugby is beautifully shorn of technology. And I like that. Unless you have other ideas.

    And Dan Parks, with his innate kicking ability, is possibly the man who demonstrates that as well as anybody in the world. If you have a talent in this world it will get you there and get you there superbly. I salute the guy. He’s nobody’s fool, and thanks to him and Al Kellock for allowing us to feature them in an April fool.

    Good lads playing the game we all love.

    JB

  • Comment number 50.

    Did Matt Williams see something the rest of us missed all those years ago? I was amongst those calling for Dan to be dropped when MW was in charge, but now, humble pie having been eaten, I am right behind him. The big question now is: who will wear his boots after he's retired? I know he's getting on a bit for a professional, and I believe his age shouldn't be a factor if he's the best player available, but what if he doesn't make the next world cup?

  • Comment number 51.

    Dodgy Knees - I've been watching Glasgow games for a while now and he has won games single handedly. You are right about succession planning. Aside from the current players there is a good crop of 10s coming up including Alex Blair, Duncan Weir, Rory Hutton and obviously Rhuaridh Jackson who will come good again.

    What Dan Parks has is an unerring ability from the kicking tee - laser or no laser. And I haven't seen anyone like him before. He has been the most misunderstood player in Scottish rugby and I am glad he is on the up.

    JB

  • Comment number 52.

    Brilliant April Fools John!

    I do agree that we have really exciting young stand-offs coming though the ranks, but I doubt that any of them will be as good a tactical kicker as Dan. He is brilliantly accurate! However what they will offer, is better up front defence, and more attacking prowess.
    Dan Parks is getting on these days, however, I think he will definitely make it to the next world cup, where he will still be a key player for Scotland!
    One final thought... What is the likelyhood of Dan Parks becoming captain next season? He shows he has the desire to play for Scotland, and with his composure and experience, I reckon he would be a great captain. I am not doubting that Cusiter and Blair are doing a good job, but, I think Parks deserves more recognition of his services.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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