With the Six Nations starting this weekend, we caught up with Rugby Union enthusiast and Kick London CEO, Joe Lowther, for his thoughts on the upcoming tournament.
1. What do you most enjoy about the Six Nations?
Its the rivalry between the countries, the banter between friends whilst it’s not as aggressive as football. The aggression is on the pitch but there is a great values base to rugby which dosn’t see this boil over into petty fights elsewhere.
2. Will you be going to any Six Nations games, as a Twickenham resident?
No, not at £80 a ticket but I wont miss a minute of the matches on television. Love this sport.
3. Which nation do you feel is showing the best form going into the tournament?
Ireland have been dominant in the Autumn Internationals and the Champions Cup in the club rugby with Leinster and Munster. Scotland are resurgent and nearly beat NZ in the autumn before hammering Australia. France have the most domestics teams through to the knock outs in the Champions Cup, with a new coach, they will be dangerous. Wales have just had Scarlets finish top of the their pool – the first Welsh team to qualify for the knock out rounds before 6 years, Plus Gatland is back, which makes a key difference. Ultimately England have only lost once home or away since 2015 so they are strong, even if domestic form has fluctuated.
4. Which nation do you tip to win this years tournament, and do you feel we will see a grand slam?
Ireland are the form team but England have the home games against Wales and Ireland – so unless they slip up to Scotland and France away, they could win it for the 3rd time.
5. Which nation will be this years whipping boys?
Italy are so off the pace. They cant compete from 60mins onwards.
6. Which individual game are you most looking forward to watching?
France vs England in Paris will be a massive game but Wales vs Scotland will test out just how far Scotland have come and whether it is time for them to compete for the title.
7. Which nation do you feel will be the surprise package this tournament?
Interesting question this as Scotland have revealed themselves with a successful campaign last season – they key is can they back up last seasons home form away from home this year. IE can they beat Ireland and Wales away. Big questions.
8. Which nation do you feel will flatter to deceive?
Hmmmmm. Tough one. Itlay will get the wooden spoon and then the talk will be about whether England’s poor club form will infect the national side. With those games away from home and likely injuries to a small squad, Scotland could come unstuck.
9. As an England fan, do you feel we are as good as we were, consistently improving, or currently in decline?
Eddie Jones has worked wonders. I have always said good leadership means everything at this level. We have the talent pool (just like in the football) but we need strong leadership to inject confidence. The Autumn was in Jones words a bit of a ‘grindathon’ against Argentina, the players look tired post Lions and we have some injuries but Jones has won 22 or the 23 he has played, with a world record 18 victories in a row so I back him to get this right.
10. Who is currently your favourite England player?
In the forwards Itoje is immense. Can do everything twice as fast with more skill than anyone. I am also really looking forward to seeing Sam Underhill play at Seven. He could be a key piece of our future. For the backs I’d love to see the pace of Christian Wade deployed or the breaks of Denny Solomoa but if Jones refuses to play them for defensive reasons I’d have to say the class of Owen Farrell.
11. Please predict for us the final standings of the teams.
Very hard to predict and England could come unstuck with playing Ireland and Wales at home is crucial.