The 6 nations has started here - and since it doesn't have the round ball involved, I'll be watching it. I haven't seen a lot of the teams, aside from the end of year tour by the mighty Southern Hemisphere teams. And then even the worst of the three (Aussie), did well. My feeling is that two obvious teams to watch would be Ireland and England, but that unlike everyone else, my dark horse will be Scotland. On the strength of their performances last year, they are playing well as a team, although lacking 'star' players.
Ireland v Italy
First up was in Ireland, and should have been a walkover - as defending champions against the perennial wooden-spooners Italy. What a bore. The game was rubbish, akin to watching an NPC badly played Div2 game. Handling was dodgy, no creativity - everything was one off the ruck, very very slow passing by the halves (Italy was better here) and the backs looked lost when it did, eventually, get to them. When the ball was spun past the first receiver everyone was flat, no-one hit at pace and no-one ran any lines. The couple of times O'Driscoll and O'Gara did do something interesting resulted in tries. But in general, turgid. Even the commentators were hanging out for it to end.
Justin Marshall was the special comments guy for BBC and he expressed his surprise at how boring the game was. Heh.
England v Wales
The game that was being hyped up as the best of Round 1. It was significantly better than Ireland v Italy, the English backs are looking better - a reflection of Martin J's selection on faster backs and (possibly) lighter forwards. I like how Wilkinson is now running quite a bit, certainly opens up the backline more when he does.
It was a good game, marred by a Welsh sin-binning that allowed two tries to be scored. The Welsh didn't really recover, but I suspect that's not the cause of their defeat. They looked timid and it wasn't until the last 20 that they began to throw the ball around - scoring impressive tries. Sadly for them, they got carried away leading to an intercept English try.
England are looking good, there's potential there - not so sure on the Welsh, they seemed disorganized and lacking focus.
About to watch the Scots v France game now.