Oh, the woes of Christmas time. A rather bleak way to start an article, I know.
But how truly gutting is it that us adults can no longer experience that incredible nervous energy and almost painful anticipation, as a child lies in bed awaiting 4.55am on Christmas morning…
Anyway enough of the preamble; where I’m going with this is that there aren’t many things to get massively excited about in adult life (maybe I’m just a cynic) but for us rugby enthusiasts, one day never disappoints.
Even though England have already been crowned Champions there’s still so much to play for, still so many pints to be sank, still so many voices to go hoarse, so many anthems to be wailed with welly and perhaps even a tear shed as the book closes on another wonderful tournament.
So, let’s have a butchers at what we have to look forward to this weekend.
Scotland vs Italy
- A defiant Scottish side, desperate to recover from being put to the sword by England.
- Hoggy’s Hands: The Scottish full back has been scintillating in attack and has recovered in time to face Italy.
- Hamish Watson running around like a terrier – he’s given himself an outside shot for the Lions.
- Jonny Gray’s big tackle (behave) count
- An emotional farewell to Vern Cotter
- Sergio Parisse – Appreciate the time we have left to watch this gladiator; unfortunately he won’t be around forever.
- The Italian Job: Does Conor O’Shea have anything up his sleeve for this week?
- 2 bellowing National anthems
France vs Wales
- French Flair; it’s been there in dribs and drabs this year but they’ll want to give their fans something to scream about for the final weekend.
- The Bear, who is Louis Picamoles doing what he does best; devastating ball carrying.
- Gael Fickou bringing the noise for Les Blues; what a sight it is when he’s in full flow
- Colour in the stands as the French fans look to put on a wonderful show
- Return of the Welsh Jackal; Warburton and Ross Moriarty causing havoc at the breakdown; both definitely have shots at the Lions.
- Which Wales? Amazing against the Irish, poor against Scotland; will Rob Howley be able to summon the likes of George North for a flourishing finale?
- Rhys’ Webb; The standout 9 this tournament, he draws defenders in as if they’re getting stuck in his web.
- An epic: a must win for both teams – this could be the best match of the weekend.
Ireland vs England
- The prospect of the Irish ending another World Record attempt after stumping the All Blacks last October.
- Farrell vs Farrell; Ireland’s defence coach will be trying to create a plan that contains his talented son.
- Sexy Sexton: He’s got all the tricks in his locker and if he can produce a stellar performance, he could orchestrate England’s downfall.
- The showdowns of all showdowns; this was the match everyone’s eyes turned to when the fixtures were announced; it will deliver.
- A full strength England XV? This is the best team they’ve fielded this tournament. BBB = Big Billy’s Back
- Kicking Masterclass; The metronomic boot of Farrell, and Elliot Daly’s impeccable kicking from hand. Brilliant footballers.
- The shot of a world record! Opportunity to surpass New Zealand with the most consecutive wins.
- Strictly Come Dancing: expect wondrous feet from the likes of JJ and Antony Watson.
Just some reasons why this is Christmas come early for the rugby fan…We hope this weekend is one BIG present!