OJO'S INSIDE LINE: Big step for Six Nations

5:10pm Friday 8th February 2013

WHEN watching the Six Nations, we’ve always known that it’s been steeped in tradition but that perhaps, when push came to shove, the southern hemisphere Tri- Nations (now four-team Rugby Championship) was at another level.

But last week, we had three brilliant Six Nations matches, which had all the old passion – but also a hell of a lot of quality.

To me, the competition took a fantastic step forward.

England’s performance against Scotland was high-tempo with very few mistakes. Although you felt England weren’t in danger of losing, Scotland gave them a hell of a game.

I always try to look at the competition from a neutral’s point of view, so for Italy to defeat France – playing great rugby I might add – left everyone buzzing afterwards.

I played with France coach Philippe Saint-André during my Gloucester days so I know how he likes to set his teams up.

So I was surprised to see what happened in Rome. Perhaps Philippe has become too Angli-cised from his spells in England?

I cannot remember a first weekend of the Six Nations which has thrown up as good a fare as that. The best bit about it is that there is no rest and we do it all again this weekend.

Ireland in Dublin is a big test for England and if this group of players is going to do something, they will have to win these games.

Should they do it, dare I say it, they will have gone a long way towards the Grand Slam, but Ireland themselves look to have some strength in depth and are in pretty good health.

It will be interesting to see how England cope, when they go long periods without the quick ball they got last week.

Let Steve know your thoughts via wiltshiretimes.co.uk or ohoulihan@newswilts.co.uk

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