The main focus of the weekend in the northern hemisphere is the final round of matches in the Six Nations.
So for my first Living Rugby blog, let’s have a closer look at those with two big games and one for the wooden spoon.
England v Ireland
This is a tough one to call but I think I am going to go for the Irish. They have been quietly going through the tournament without much fuss and have players that are fully experienced in these sort of big matches.
I don’t quite get the English press’ reaction to the win in France. There were derided in some quarters for being negative and dour in tight wins against Scotland and Italy. Then they lose at home to Wales and, last weekend, they beat a French side that played very poorly.
England scored a couple of tries on turnovers and one from Tom Croft where Aurelien Rougerie will be mortified by his defending and, all of a sudden, they are world beaters.
Well, not for me they are not.
England still have some individuals who are not quite up to that level and I think that may be found out by an Irish team who will be much more consistent that France.
Wales v France
Yes, Wales may well be playing for a Grand Slam but they will have plenty of work to do if they are going to achieve that.
The French will be spewing after losing to England at home and everyone of their players will have a point to prove at the Millennium Stadium.
In typical French style, they have dropped a handful of players of the loss to England but they have real strength in depth in all departments and, crucially, they can match the Welsh in terms of physicality.
This will be a cracker and I think will be the best spectacle of the weekend – and I think the French will nick a tight one.
Italy v Scotland
The perennial battle for the wooden spoon takes place in Italy this year between two sides who have struggled to stamp their mark on the tournament.
It won’t be a thriller or an exhibition of fast, running rugby. But it will be close and I can see the Scots just edging it 15-9 in a dour kick-fest.
The Highlanders are not usually a team to scare many people on paper but they have surprised everyone with three wins out of three and they will go to Wellington full of confidence.
The Hurricanes have been ok but they return from a road trip to South Africa and it can be tough re-adjusting to your home venue after a tough trip like that.
Wellington will start as favourites but don’t be surprised if momentum sees the Highlanders make it four from four.
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