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Frank Quinn assesses Ireland’s chances of 6N glory

By Frank Quinn
THERE are no permutations except the one. “Keep winning and it’s ours!” The instructions have never been easier for the 2023 6N. There is nowhere to hide, we played 3, won 3. What could be simpler? We are heading towards played 5 and win 5? We look the best team in the competition and we are playing like the best team. None of the other sides have produced our brand of entertaining winning rugby.
It would be very disappointing, almost a national disaster, to lose the championship in 2023. Paddy Power gives us the thumbs up for the outright Six Nations: Ireland 1/12, Scotland 9/1, France 14/1 England 25/1. For the Grand Slam Ireland are 8/15 and they are offering “a get out” (besides the door) for No Grand slam winner at 5/4. There is no hiding place in the Paddy Power shops
Readers no doubt already know that we are playing Scotland first on The Holy Sunday, 12th of March at 3 pm and then, six days later, we play to beat England at the Aviva Stadium on Super Saturday at 5pm on the 18th of March.
Just think of it from the coach’s point of view. A grand slam in his fourth year after nearly 150 years of International Rugby and he goes down in the record books. The only advice to the coaching team is ‘don’t get distracted or side-tracked,’ stick with the 6N, bat all other questions into the West Stand for another day.
From a players’ perspective they are entering holy ground, to becoming a TD or an MP, President, Freeman of whereever, Be at the top end of the Richter scale, Player of the Year and Team of the Year. The players will have their own individual goals, and top of the list is to get picked, to be in the team squad for starters and to be in the starting fifteen for two more games in the 2023 6N. If the coach picks you (the player) to start then he is the greatest rugby coach on the planet. All the rules apply here. “Be relaxed, play well, enjoy the game.” Do what you always do and do it well. All the cliches will be trotted out to them. But it is the inner self which has to be pleased: was that a good day at the office? “Did you play to the best of your ability?” Can you just smile and walk off and join the fun, a happy man.
My advice is, as a player you just think of yourself, your family, your friends and playing well and if these thoughts are fulfilled you will be a happy man walking off the pitches. You will have done a super job for your team and your country. This is an alternative view of team sport.
We should just think of the what we want to do in the two games and do it. It is very negative to start worrying about the opposition, let them worry about themselves. But what of the opposition in the final two games? Both deserve respect. Scotland had one of their best starts ever by winning the first two games but came unstuck against France and a late try by Fikou made the scoreboard a bit ‘lob-sided’ and did not fully represent their efforts to get the win at the end. They have good individuals and it was a super team effort up to the final minutes. Andy Farrell will have noted that they play for eighty minutes with a huge team effort right through to the end. I wanted to stay away from writing about individuals, but it’s difficult not to mention the one to one with Russell and Sexton if both are selected. Both are superb kickers and play-makers and will have a huge effect on the game, We will be looking out for an intercept from one of Russell’s famous long, intelligent passes.
In some regards England have been harder to judge from their appearances having played three and won two. They are a mixed bag at the moment with selections and results and they have been looking to stick with experience in spite of having a huge selection of 24 teams in the Championship in Division one and two. The new coach is sticking to the ‘old brigade’ but he may attempt to inject new players in his team squad for the French game. He has added in a few more to his selection just to confuse us. He probably will not have written off the 6N title yet for 2023 until after the French game. Seven days is a long time in rugby and this edition of the 6N will make it even longer, We drew the short straw this year with the Sunday game just allowing six days for recovery for the final showdown..
2022 provided us with the Soccer World Cup and 2023 is already captivating sports fans after three rounds of the 6N. Roll on the Rugby World Cup next season.

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