Posts tagged ‘England’

February 11, 2011

Friday Photo: Man, It’s Tough Watching the Cavs

by Jeeves

Each Friday we bring you funny/odd/offbeat photos from the week before. As always hover over the pics for bonus captions.

Christian Eyenga can’t bear to watch his team, the Cavs, play. Can you blame him?

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February 3, 2011

Guest Post: The 6 Nations Tournament

by Jeeves

To kick things off today we have a guest post from St. Bear. He digs into the 6 Nations rugby tournament by breaking down the teams a little and offering a predicted order of finish. I, myself, am a casual rugby fan; I love watching the game, especially high quality games like in the 6 nations of the TriNations. Hopefully this article will inspire you to pick up the remote and watch some of these games.

St Bear can be found on Twitter @adamstbear

-Jeeves

The 6 Nations Championship rugby tournament begins on Friday and runs over the course of the next 6 weeks. This is an annual round-robin showdown between the 6 biggest rugby sides in Europe (England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France, and Italy). It’s the second biggest international rugby tournament after the World Cup (which incidentally is this Sept in New Zealand). Last year, France was the Grand Slam champion, which means they went undefeated in the tournament.

European rugby is a lot like Big Ten football. They have tradition and a strong passion for the game; however, for the most part, they’ve been surpassed by the Southern Hemisphere, namely South Africa, Australia, and of course New Zealand. Now the Europeans are viewed as more methodical and as power teams whereas the Southern Hemisphere teams play a more open game.

Here is the tournament “fixtures” as it’s called across the pond:

Editor’s not: Table gets cut off on the home page view. If you click on the title of the article, the table is fully viewable

Date

Kick Off (EST)

Home

Away

Venue

Fri 4th Feb 2:45 pm Wales v England Millennium Stadium
Sat 5th Feb 9:30 am Italy v Ireland Stadio Flaminio
Sat 5th Feb 12:00 pm France v Scotland Stade de France
Sat 12th Feb 9:30 am England v Italy Twickenham
Sat 12th Feb 12:00 pm Scotland v Wales Murrayfield
Sun 13th Feb 10:00 am Ireland v France Aviva Stadium
Sat 26th Feb 9:30 am Italy v Wales Stadio Flaminio
Sat 26th Feb 12:00 pm England v France Twickenham
Sun 27th Feb 10:00 am Scotland v Ireland Murrayfield
Sat 12th Mar 9:30 am Italy v France Stadio Flaminio
Sat 12th Mar 12:00 pm Wales v Ireland Millennium Stadium
Sun 13th Mar 11:00 am England v Scotland Twickenham
Sat 19th Mar 10:30 am Scotland v Italy Murrayfield
Sat 19th Mar 1:00 pm Ireland v England Aviva Stadium
Sat 19th Mar 3:45 pm France v Wales Stade de France

The highlighted matches will be shown live on BBC America and are worth catching. Below is my breakdown of the 6 teams and how I think they will finish in the tournament:

1. England

Emblem: Red Rose

6 Nations Titles: 25 (most all-time)

Best World Cup: Champion (2003), 2nd (1991, 2007)

Picked by many to win 6 Nations, mainly due to their demolishing of Australia twice in the past year. England is always a contender in any tournament they enter, and they have won this tournament a record 25 times. They draw their middle three matches at home, including France; however, they end their campaign on the road in Ireland, which could very well be the de facto championship match.

2. France

Nickname: Les Blues, Les Tricolores

Emblem: The Gallic Rooster

6 Nations Titles: 16 outright, 8 shared

Best World Cup: 2nd (1987, 1999)

Last year’s champs, got destroyed by Australia and Argentina in the fall, which has tempered expectations coming into this year’s tourney. With 16 outright 6 Nations titles, and another 8 shared titles, Les Blues have had their share of success on the pitch. Traditionally a flamboyant and exciting team to watch, France rode their defense to last year’s title. They have been unable to sustain their stoutness, and this has led many to question the identity of the French side. Their coach has promised to return to the style that the French are known for, which probably is a good thing considering the talent they have in their scrum.  Their back row is exceptional and includes their captain, Thierry Dusautoir, and #8 Imanol Harinordorquy, who was nominated for the 2010 IRB World Player of the Year Award.

3. Ireland

Nickname: Men in Green

Emblem: Shamrock

6 Nations Titles: 11 outright, 8 shared

Best World Cup: quarterfinal (1987, 1991, 1995, 2003)

Despite fielding most of the same players over the past year, this team has been wildly inconsistent, finishing 2nd to France in last year’s 6 Nations, yet losing to a bad Scottish team in the final game. That was followed by a string of defeats against the Southern Hemisphere teams (South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand), which in of itself isn’t unexpected, though the lackluster play left a lot to be desired. That being said, Ireland has a reputation of playing up during the 6 Nations, and they do get their two toughest games at home, against France and England.

4. Wales

Emblem: The Prince of Wales’s feathers

6 Nations Titles: 24

Best World Cup: 3rd (1987)

The Welsh are under tremendous pressure to succeed following consecutive 4th place finishes in the 6 Nations Championships and a seven match winless streak entering this year’s tournament has only made things worse. The argument that these experiences can mold this team into a competitive side is an overly optimistic one. One term to describe this team that keeps popping up is “paper-thin”. This is Wales, after all, which means they have talent, particularly in the backline. Also, their home pitch can be exceedingly tough to win at. Luckily for Wales, this year that task falls on England, Ireland, and France.

5. Scotland

Emblem: The Thistle

6 Nations Titles: 14 outright, 8 shared

Best World Cup: 4th (1991)

Despite a poor showing in last year’s tournament, Scotland has posted some impressive wins over the past year which gives them reason to be optimistic. After three losses in the 2010 6 Nations, the Scots upset Ireland in their final match, and then went on to post impressive wins during the summer over Australia, Argentina (twice), and South Africa. They will need some inspired play from flanker John Barclay, similar to what he did against South Africa by poaching the ball at the breakdown, if they hope to pull off an upset or two.

6. Italy

Nickname: Azzurri

6 Nations Titles: None

Best World Cup: 1st Round (1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007)

As the newcomer to the 6 Nations Championship (joining in 2000), the Azzurri have definitely taken their lumps, but have also pulled some surprising upsets along the way, albeit almost exclusively at home. The Italians are known for being strong in the forwards and playing a punishing style of rugby, and this year will be no different. Although they’ve beaten Scotland two times in the past three years, both times have been at home and this year they’re on the road. That means their best bet for a positive result will be against Wales at home.