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England overwhelm Six Nations champions Ireland

Ireland v England

England Rugby manager Eddie Jones put another notch on his impressive record Saturday, guiding England to a 29th win out of 36 international Tests since he took the reins. To make the victory especially sweet, it was a conquest over Joe Schmidt’s formidable Ireland side at home at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. A testament to the power of Jones’ game-planning, England looked immensely strong as they took on the Six Nations champions, taking apart the host’s strategy and backing them into a corner.

Leading 17-13 by the 66th minute, England created a fantastic opportunity coming out of the scrum, Henry Slade first fed Jonny May the ball and then chased down May’s fantastic chip, a slick maneuver allowing Slade’s exceptional pace to seal the deal in a beautiful try. The work of both May and Jack Nowell on the wings was pivotal for England’s success in a terrific day’s rugby, with May’s opening try inside the first two minutes setting the tone.

Culminating in a 32-30 victory, Saturday represents potentially England’s most dominant win under Jones in contest with another top team, the four-try bonus point illustrating just how effectively they dismantled Andy Farrell’s defense, and the Irish squad taking a heavy beating at the hands of England’s driven intensity. Ireland lost Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Devin Toner to injury. “I don’t think I’ve seen a game where our opponents got so many physical, dominant tackles, where our opponents have carried physically in the manner that they did,” the Ireland manager Joe Schmidt confessed after the game. However, England suffered the loss of star player Maro Itoje, a presence who will be sorely missed going into subsequent games.

Manu Tuilagi’s long absence due to injury was forgotten as he bulldozed his way into the match, a powerhouse playing with the destructive flair that he’s known for, and the Vunipola brothers showed their incredible athleticism and sporting quality. Overall, England looked stronger against Ireland than they have during the whole of Schmidt’s tenure as manager, and England fans will be hopeful that this impressive victory is a good omen for the rest of the tournament going into their match against France at Twickenham this Sunday.

As always, Engage Hospitality provide full official hospitality for all matches in the Six Nations, which is a gold standard for the corporate hospitality calendar and a superb opportunity to show your clients a rollicking good time alongside the best rugby in the world. Be sure to check out our on-site Twickenham hospitality as we are official ‘Good for Rugby’ partners with the RFU, and browse our rugby packages here.

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An Exciting Start for England Rugby in 2018

England v Italy, Twickenham 2013

Eddie Jones renews contract until 2021

Great news for all England fans, with the announcement that hugely successful coach Eddie Jones will continue until 2021. He will be working closely with the RFU in selecting the next chief of staff by the end of the 2019-20 season, hoping to maintain the new-found status quo.

Jones has won 22 of his 23 Tests since taking the role in November 2015, and says extending his deal was “not a difficult decision”.

The big question on everyone’s lips, and surely a guarded secret, is whether Eddie Jones will be at the helm for what would surely be the jewel in the crown. If Eddie Jones led the British and Irish Lions to victory in South Africa it would mark the first time since the 1950s that the Lions toured all three nations without conceding a series.

Italy vs. England Squad Announcement

Eddie Jones has selected eight uncapped players to face Italy on the 4th February at the Stadio Olympico.

Five fresh young forwards in the squad will have their mettle tested, as the Italians are well known for their aggression up front in the mauls and breakdowns.

When Italy came to Twickenham, they employed cunning tactics to try and disrupt the momentum of England. Fans are left wondering what they will have up their sleeve come Sunday.

England have never been beaten by the Azzurri, so hopes are high that a young-looking England team can maintain the current 95% win-rate, spurred on by the knowledge that Eddie Jones tenure is set to continue.

 

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Engage’s Guide to the 2017 6 Nations Grand Finale

6 nations

Heading in to last weekend, five of the six nations had a chance of winning the tournament.  Ireland’s battling loss in Cardiff, however, meant that England could seal the title with a home win against Scotland, which they duly achieved with a truly dominant performance.  So, is there still anything left to play for?  You bet there is.

Scotland, France, Ireland and Wales have all lost two games from four and will be desperate to avoid a losing season by claiming a win on the final weekend.  England, on the other hand, have a second consecutive Grand Slam to play for, along with the prospect of a world record for back-to-back test victories.

All three games will take place this Saturday (18th March), so let’s look a little closer at the match ups…

Scotland vs. Italy (12:30)

Scotland’s bad luck with injuries continued at the weekend with another raft of concussions and orthopaedic woes.  They will though take solace in the fixture list, as, if they could have chosen the fixture with which to close what started as a very promising campaign, it would be at home against the winless Azzurri.

Despite the long odds currently being offered, the Italians will be no walkover for a patched-up Scottish side.  They have competed for long periods in all their matches, with the exception of their drubbing by the Irish, and some early successes against the Scots could set up a thrilling second half.

France vs. Wales (15:45)

Wales’ defence was brutal against Ireland in Cardiff, with their forwards gang-tackling anything and everything that came their way, so you can expect their collisions with the enormous French pack to be wince-inducing at the very least.

France have at times looked like regaining their place among the very best test sides during this Championship, without ever catching fire and playing like the France of old.  Wales also have been struggling to get over the try line of late, meaning we are likely to see a tense war of attrition, with France’s home advantage possibly being negated by the momentum Wales will have gained from their epic win against the men in green.

Ireland vs. England (17:00)

A week ago, the smart money was backing a final weekend showdown between an Irish team fresh from a win in Cardiff and an England team who, had they read the script, would have arrived after another less than convincing win against Scotland.  As it is, Ireland can do little more than spoil England’s party.

That having been said, you can not underestimate how fired-up Ireland will be.  There is plenty of history behind this fixture and England playing in Dublin will always make for an emotional contest.  Add in the fact that the Irish lads will not like the idea of England celebrating a world record 19th consecutive win their stadium, even less a Grand Slam, and we needn’t worry about anyone just going through the motions.

England, though, are as well placed to win a huge away fixture as they have been since their 2003 Grand Slam decider in Dublin.  In the last year, Eddie Jones has taken them to a Grand Slam win in Paris, three test wins in Australia and a crucial win in Cardiff, so they won’t be unduly worried by foreign turf or partisan crowds.  They also look to be coming into form at exactly the right time and it’s hard to see them playing like they did against Scotland and losing.

The Irish will insist England will not get a chance to play that and who could argue with them?  It’s a very hard game to call, but one thing is for definite: it’s going to be an incredible test match that no rugby fan can afford to miss.

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6 Nations Players to Watch

6 nations

England

Elliot Daly (age: 24, height: 6ft, weight: 15st 10lbs)

With eight caps to his name, Daly is certainly not an unknown, but he has yet to show his full talents at international level. A clear yet unfortunate red card against Argentina saw his Autumn Internationals cut short, but he is likely to feature strongly in the 6 Nations.

Blessed with searing pace, solid defence, great hands and the ability to step off both feet, Daly can play centre, wing or fullback. He can also bang over penalties from approaching 10m inside his own half, which can seriously demoralise the opposition. 2017 could be the year he becomes a star.

Ireland

Garry Ringrose (age: 21, height: 6ft 1in, weight, 14st 7lbs)

If there’s one cross in world rugby that you wouldn’t want a 21-year old to bear, it would to be touted as the heir apparent to the incomparable Brian O’Driscoll. As if finding your feet as an international centre isn’t hard enough, it is exactly what Garry Ringrose is having to cope with.

The good news, however, is that he may well live up to expectations. In addition to a running style remarkable reminiscent of the great BOD, Ringrose has pace, all the required skills and a real nose for the try line.

Scotland

Jonny Gray (age: 22, height 6ft 6ins, weight 18st 10lbs)

It’s hard to believe, given his size, that Jonny is comfortably the smaller of Scotland’s Gray brothers, with the older, 60-capped Richie hitting 6ft 10ins in his socks and almost 20 stone. Not that it’s held Jonny back, as he’s widely being tipped to make this year’s Lions tour to New Zealand.

Gray is the complete modern lock, with decent hands and good mobility complementing the basics of providing grunt at scrum time and reliable line-out ball. His work rate, however, is his strongest suit. His stats for hitting breakdowns and completing tackles are up there with the very best back-row forwards. Expect to see some world-class performances from him in the upcoming tournament.

Wales

Justin Tipuric (age: 27, height: 6ft 2in, weight: 16st 1lb)

Tipuric has won 46 caps since his 2011 international debut, but he has never managed to cement himself as first choice. That may change for the coming 6 Nations, with Tipuric’s skills as a link man being cited by many rugby sages west of the border as exactly what the national side needs to revive an increasingly predictable attacking game.

France

Baptiste Serin (age: 20, height: 5ft 11ins, weight 12st)

With the skill-set to occasionally play fullback for his club, Bordeaux Bègles, the young scrum-half might just be the spark to ignite France’s backline. Blessed with incredible sleight of hand and an enormous boot, Serin already has a highlights reel full of magical moments. If he gets the nod for France in this year’s 6 Nations tournament, make sure you watch him very, very closely.

Italy

Michele Campagnaro (age: 23, height: 6ft, weight: 15st 8lbs)

Ignoring the obvious choice of Italy’s talismanic Sergio Parisse, we’ve gone for Exeter’s bullocking young centre, Michele Campagnaro. He has won man-of-the-match awards for Italy, but never a 6 Nations match. If 2017 is to be the year Campagnaro breaks his 6 Nations duck, Italy will need him to be at his powerful best in attack and defence.

Opening round fixtures

Scotland vs Ireland, Sat 4th Feb, 2.25pm

Ireland won this fixture by 10 points in Dublin last year, a difference that home advantage could easily reverse in Scotland’s favour. Both teams having progressed since then, making it a difficult match to call.

Irelands inspiring displays against New Zealand, allied to a squad with arguably more strength in depth, make them favourites, but they’ll doubtless have to weather a Scottish storm if they’re to win at Murrayfield.

England vs France, Sat 4th Feb, 4.50pm

England have become a relentless force under Eddie Jones, demanding all teams who face them to push their physical limits until the final whistle, and they’ll be highly fancied to win handsomely at home against a France team long in transition.

France, however, utterly destroyed the Wallaby scrum last autumn, with New Zealand’s pack fairing only slightly better in a game where France rediscovered their attacking verve in a close loss. Maybe chickens should not be counted just yet..?

Italy vs Wales, Sun 5th Feb, 2pm

Wales’ attack has not fired for some months and they were roundly slated by home supporters for some lacklustre displays during the autumn. Boasting a squad dripping with top quality players, they will hope there is some truth behind the old adage, ‘Form is temporary, class is permanent’.

Italy have also been struggling for form, with a first, historic win over the weakest team to ever leave South Africa offering them a rare moment in the sun. New coach Conor O’Shea has expressed his ambitions to make them fitter and more competitive, but it would still be a huge upset if they manage to beat the visiting Welsh team.

Stadia

Twickenham

Location: London, England

Capacity: 82,000

First Rugby International hosted: England v Wales, January 1910

Interesting fact: Twickenham is the world’s biggest dedicated rugby stadium and the fourth largest stadium in Europe.

Principality Stadium

Location: Cardiff, Wales

Capacity: 74,500

First Rugby International hosted: Wales v South Africa, June 1999

Interesting fact: The Principality Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the world with a fully retractable roof, hosting 770,000 paying visitors each year.

Stade de France

Location: Paris, France

Capacity: 81,388

First Rugby International hosted: France v England, February 1998

Interesting fact: The multi-sport stadium was initially built specifically to host the 1998 FIFA World Cup and features a stand that can be retracted to uncover a section of the athletics track.

Stadio Olimpico

Location: Rome, Italy

Capacity: 70,634

First Rugby International hosted: Italy v England, February 2012

Interesting fact: Owned by the Italian National Olympic Committee, Stadio Olimpico’s construction was initiated by the regime of Mussolini, with building taking place between 1928 and 1950.  Early football crowds approached 100,000.

Aviva Stadium

Location: Dublin, Ireland

Capacity: 51,700

First Rugby International hosted: Ireland v South Africa, November 2010

Interesting fact: The Aviva Stadium was built on the site of the old Lansdowne Road Stadium, which had been hosting rugby matches since 1876.

Murrayfield

Location: Edinburgh, Scotland

Capacity: 67,800

First Rugby International hosted: Scotland v England, March 1925

Interesting fact: Murrayfield was redeveloped to an all-seater stadium in 1994, but, years before, Murrayfield could host 104,000 rugby fans, as it did for their game against England in 1975 (setting a world record that stood for 24 years).

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The 6 Nations Country Guide

6 nations

The 2017 6 Nations is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in years. England may be hot favourites to defend their Grand Slam title, but recent strong showings by Ireland, Scotland and France, alongside a powerful, experienced Welsh squad, mean it is far from a foregone conclusion.

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England

There is talk of a 6 Nations injury crisis for the reigning champions, but Eddie jones has further developed the strong, young squad he inherited from Stuart Lancaster and will not yet be losing sleep.

Injuries to seemingly key men, such as the Vunipola brothers, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury and Chris Robshaw, could be rendered irrelevant by players of the calibre of Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Nathan Hughes and Tom Wood waiting in the wings.

A huge opening game at home against France and tough trips to Cardiff and Dublin will demand England be at their best if another Grand Slam is to be achieved, but their autumn form after three summer wins in Australia make it hard to argue against the bookmakers, who have them installed as odds-on favourites.

Ireland

Ireland will take great heart from their first win against New Zealand last autumn and the impressive display that followed in a battling loss. They will be further galvanised by the tragic loss of Anthony Foley, whose memory will doubtless inspire some passionate displays. These factors, combined with a fixture list they may well see as favourable, means the final game against England could be a showdown for the 6 Nations Championship.

Wales

Wales are vying with France to be considered the ‘dark horses’ ahead of this year’s 6 Nations. A draw against Ireland and a narrow loss to England last time round would suggest their talented squad only requires a few tweaks to challenge for honours. However, their home form in the autumn, when a heavy defeat to Australia was flowed by unconvincing wins against Argentina, Japan and a toothless South Africa, could point to problems ahead.

A strong showing first up in Rome could steady their nerves and provide the ideal launch pad for a serious title challenge.

Scotland

A recent win against Argentina and a one-point loss to Australia offered further proof that Scotland have been on a steady upward curve in recent years. Though they are not yet widely considered as title contenders, they could certainly derail the claims of teams who are. Blessed with a mobile pack and some outstanding backline talent, including the irrepressible Stuart Hogg, they will be confident at home and dangerous away.

France

Perennially the most unpredictable team in the 6 Nations, France could be playing for the Championship or the wooden spoon come the final weekend.

Their 2016 6 Nations campaign was a disaster, with close wins over Ireland and Italy providing their only solace. Since then, they have drawn a two-match summer series in Argentina and run both Australia and New Zealand very close in Paris (losing by two and five points respectively).

Despite an often-cited dearth of French talent competing in the Top 14, France can still field a monstrous pack and dangerous backline. What they haven’t been able to do in recent seasons is achieve any level of consistency in selection or clarity in collective ambition. If they do manage to address those issues, anything is possible.

Italy

Consistency is also a problem for the Azzurri and something new coach Conor O’Shea has been working hard to address. Last year’s 6 Nations opening weekend saw them five minutes from a win in Paris, only to then suffer four sound thrashings in their subsequent fixtures. The pattern continued in the autumn, when a hiding at the hands of New Zealand was followed by their first ever win over South Africa and a disappointing loss to Tonga.

France in Rome may be their best chance of registering a win this time round, with close losses in the other fixtures possibly representing moral victories.