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HomeSportsClive Woodward has predicted 2023 will see 'best-ever' Six Nations

Clive Woodward has predicted 2023 will see ‘best-ever’ Six Nations

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Ex-England boss Clive Woodward has predicted that the best-ever Six Nations is about to unfold despite months of negativity surrounding the participating countries.

Referencing the RFU’s controversial tackle-height law height, the allegations of sexism and misogyny at the WRU, the SRU’s criticised handling of the death of Siobhan Cattigan, the corruption claims in France, the racism incident in Italy, and how the IRFU came under pressure to have more women on its board, the 2003 World Cup winner suggested he had never known so much negative publicity about rugby ahead of the championship.

However, he is now expecting the 2023 Six Nations to royally entertain. Writing in his latest Sportsmail column ahead of a round one weekend of matches in Cardiff, London and Rome, he said: “The negative headlines we have had recently won’t help the sport one iota.

“And a brilliant Six Nations won’t solve all the issues the countries are experiencing off the field, but it will go a long way to painting rugby in a more positive light. It is badly needed. Luckily, we could see the best Six Nations in history.”

Woodward quickly explained why. “Rugby is fortunate to have great players and coaches as its ambassadors. Warren Gatland, Steve Borthwick and Andy Farrell are big-name leaders and I have been pleased to see them not engaging in any stupid rhetoric. It is often called ‘mind games’ but in my opinion it is total nonsense.

“They have talked openly and honestly about the strength of their teams without focusing on themselves. That is how it should be. The same is true of Gregor Townsend, Fabien Galthie and Kieran Crowley. On the playing front, the opening weekend of the Six Nations is set up beautifully. What an opportunity for the likes of Marcus Smith, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Finn Russell, Jac Morgan, Caelan Doris and many, many others to stamp their mark. I want to see new players step forward.”

As for his Saturday Six Nations predictions, Woodward backed Wales to ambush Ireland and suggested Scotland won’t be daunted by facing England away. “This Six Nations is beautifully set up. Wales against Ireland in the opening game has so many stories and layers to it. I can’t wait for that one and believe Wales will edge it… the return of Gatland as head coach will be a crucial factor.

“After that, it’s England’s chance to lay down a marker against Scotland and forge a new era under Borthwick. England are starting afresh, but that is a hugely exciting prospect. Scotland have won three of the last five meetings between the sides. They won’t be daunted about coming to Twickenham. Whatever happens, I’m sure we’ll see some hugely exciting rugby. God knows we need it.”


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