It doesn’t seem too long ago that England were crowned as the 2020 winners of the Six Nations, but the 2021 instalment of the competition gets underway this weekend. England’s first challenge of their defence comes at Twickenham against Scotland, while runners-up last year, France will be looking to get off to the perfect start against Italy.
England vs Scotland
The Six Nations will begin with England as the outright favourites to successfully defend their title. However, they will be more than aware of the threat posed by the Scottish on Saturday. England haven’t lost to Scotland at home since 1983, but that record was nearly ended in 2019.
Scotland staged a stunning comeback to take the lead in that game, after England had built up a huge 31-point lead. The Scots taking control of the game forced the Lions to raise their game, and they were eventually able to tie the game 38-38 in the final moments. Eddie Jones will be reminding his side of their responsibilities for the game, and their meeting in 2019 will be used as evidence of what can happen if England aren’t at their very best.
Scotland will be looking to build on their decent showing last year, as they finished in fourth place in the overall standings. They won three of the five games that they played, and were only beaten by Ireland and England. There could be a chance of Scotland improving and finishing higher if they are able to build on their away form against the better sides in the Six Nations. There was evidence that they could do that, as they beat Wales 14-10 in their final game last year.
England will be the favourites to get their title defence off to the best possible start, and their excellent record against Scotland at Twickenham bolds well for their chances of doing that.
Italy vs France
France may be many people’s darkhorses to win the Six Nations this year, as they showed last year that progression has been made in their game. They will come up against Italy in the opening game of their campaign this season, and they will be looking for a commanding win in Rome.
Fabien Galthie’s first Six Nations campaign in charge of the French national team will likely go down as a successful first step to what the French are hoping to achieve as a team. They finished second behind England, and only missed out on the Six Nations title by points difference. France won all but one of the games that they played throughout the competition, with their only defeat coming against Scotland.
Italy finished bottom of the Six Nations table for the fifth consecutive year, and they haven’t won a game in the competition since a victory over Scotland in 2015. It looks to be a big ask for them to avoid finishing with the wooden spoon again this year, as the quality of the other five teams in contention is clear for all to see.
France were pushed close by Italy in last year’s Six Nations, as they only won 35-22, but they will be much bigger winners this weekend.