SIX NATIONS: The year of Les Bleus?
OPINION: The abrupt suspension of the Six Nations and other tournaments has certainly been felt worldwide.
Sport has always been a means to unify the world. Weekly thousands of fans flock together to witness athletes compete to be the best.
The highly competitive nature of sports allows athletes and supporters to openly despise an opponent – all in good spirit- and be extremely bias towards what you consider your own.
And that is certainly true when it comes to the Northern Hemisphere’s most prestigious tournament, the Six Nations.
Expanded to six teams in 2000 – following its humble beginnings as a Home Nations (1883) and Four Nations (1910) tournament – the annual international competition has been a unifying vehicle for these countries.
However, the Six Nations has been left in turmoil, with the completion dates of the remaining fixtures still uncertain – to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reports suggest the Six Nations may resume late in October. However, that will mean that England will have to play five Tests in consecutive weeks, not good news for Eddie Jones and Co.
Heading into this 2020 edition of the competition, England were favourites to win this title, with the goal being to bag a Grand Slam.
Fresh from a World Cup Final defeat to South Africa in Japan, Eddie Jones’ men were in far better shape than their Northern Hemisphere counterparts.
Then that opening match happened and France managed to stun the world.
The young fearless French side made a huge statement and recorded a stunning 24-17 win over England at the Stade de France in Paris.
The win was the dawn of a new era under recently-appointed France coach Fabien Galthie.
What’s was even more impressive is that Galthie’s France XV featured just one player over the age of 30.
Their momentum did not stop there.
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Les Bleus followed up their Round One performance with wins against Italy and a very experienced Wales team.
They were well on their way to claim a rare Grand Slam.
However, defeat to Scotland shattered those dreams.
France, who are in second place on the table, with 13 points, was scheduled to host Ireland at the Stade de France before the fixture got postponed when the French government banned all public gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Since then the coronavirus has killed more than 1000 people in France, thus thinking or even preparing for rugby has become impossible.
Tournament organisers and World Rugby has been planning relentlessly to salvage some form of rugby for this year.
However, with the long break and the country’s ever-increasing death toll due to the virus, who knows what the state will be of Fabien Galthié’s squad upon resumption of the sport.
One certainly has to feel for the young France team, who could have been Six Nations champions.