The 2017 RBS Six Nations was a thrilling tournament. England successfully defended their championship title, having started the event as favourites but were unable to make it back-to-back Grand Slam victories, having lost to Ireland on the final day.
So, what does the 2018 Six Nations tournament have in store and who are the favourites to come out on top?
Following the appointment of Eddie Jones as coach of the England team, they have dominated the Six Nations. Between 2012 and 2017, only three teams have won the Six Nations and all three, including Wales and Ireland, have won it back-to-back. However, in the history of the Six Nations or the old Five Nations format, no team has won the championship individually, three times in a row.
Given their current form and the quality of talent at their disposal, England have what it takes to make history in the 2018 Six Nations and win their third championship on the bounce. Having played Wales and Ireland away from home last year, England’s biggest tests will be at Twickenham and that increases their chances of success.
Both Ireland and Wales will be hoping to improve on their showing last time out. Ireland will take great confidence from their victory over England and will surely come into the 2018 Six Nations as the second favourites to win the championship. The trip to Twickenham will be tough but with Wales and Scotland having to travel to Dublin, they will be hoping to pick up four victories, which will be good enough for second place, if not better.
Wales suffered huge disappointment at the end of their 2017 Six Nations campaign, losing to France in a farcical manner at the Stade de France. The defeat saw Wales finish in fifth place, one of their worst performances in the competition. The 2018 Six Nations will not be any easier and with trips to Twickenham and the Aviva Stadium to look forward to, Wales may have to settle for third place. Although this will not be ideal, it is certainly an improvement.
Scotland will be hoping to build on a successful campaign last time out, by solidifying their position as a threat to Ireland, France and Wales in the 2018 Six Nations. Scotland recorded some excellent victories over Ireland and Wales and the home crowd will be looking forward to welcoming England to Murrayfield and giving them a run for their money.
France have also shown signs of improvement and will be hoping that continues during the 2018 Six Nations tournament. The French played very well at Twickenham in 2017 and much like Scotland, will be looking forward to hosting England. France will also play Ireland and Italy in Paris, which makes them a threat for second place or even first, if they can cause an upset by defeating the English.
As for the Italians, it is going to be another case of picking up the Wooden Spoon. Since they have joined the tournament in 2000, Italy have finished bottom twelve times and they are likely to add to that poor record in 2018.