England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster and Captain Chris Robshaw will be targeting their first Six Nations Championship win since 2011 and their first Grand Slam for eleven years, when their campaign gets underway on the 1st February 2014.
The 2013 Six Nations Championship ended in agony for England, as the 30-3 defeat at the hands of Wales in Cardiff on the last weekend of the tournament, denied them a Grand Slam and also the Championship itself, thus they finished as runners-up. However there were numerous positives throughout the 2013 tournament, as they retained the Calcutta Cup with their 38-18 victory over Scotland at Twickenham, and produced an impressive display to defeat 2011 World Cup Finalists France by a ten point margin. Other positives were the emergence of fly half Owen Farrell, whose performances ensured that he has now cemented his position in the England team, whilst there was the brilliant displays of centre Manu Tuilagi, scrum-half Ben Youngs and Dan Cole, who all gained selection for the 2013 British and Irish Lions Tour to Australia as result.
France v England – February 1st, 2014
The Stade de France in Paris is always an intimidating venue, no more so when France play England, especially In this year’s Tournament as the French Rugby Union will be seething due to their poor showing in 2013 when they only won one match against Scotland. England will be looking for their third Six Nations win in a row over their Gallic counterparts, as they won 22-24 in Paris back in 2012, and this year they prevailed 23-13 back at Twickenham. Despite their poor performances during the 2013 Tournament, France have some quality players, such as barnstorming centre Mathieu Bastareaud, forward Louis Picamoles, and Clermont Auvergne’s scrum-half Morgan Parra.
Scotland v England – February 8th, 2014
Next up for the Red Rose is another intimidating away match at Murrayfield Stadium to take on the ever improving Scots, England are looking to win their third Six Nations game in a row against Scotland, following their 6-13 victory in Edinburgh in 2012 and the 38-18 win this year. Scotland enjoyed two victories in the 2013 Tournament over Italy and Ireland, so finished third in the Championship standings behind the English. They have some brilliant players at their disposal, with Stuart Hogg showing his ability in 2013 to gain selection for the British and Irish Lions Tour, whilst Captain Kelly Brown and winger Sean Maitland are also players to watch.
England v Ireland – February 22nd, 2014
England will be back at home for their third match of the Championship when they take on the Irish Rugby Union, similarly the English have won the last two Six Nations matches against the Irish, with their 30-9 win at Twickenham in 2012 followed by this year’s 6-12 victory in atrocious conditions in Dublin. Ireland had a poor tournament in 2013 by only gaining one win over Wales, this combined with a draw against France in Dublin ensured they finished second bottom in the table, this has led to a change, with New Zealander Joe Schmidt replacing Declan Kidney as Head Coach from now on. However there were mitigating circumstances regarding their performances in the 2013 Tournament, as they had to endure a horrific injury list, with quality players Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe all unavailable. There were positives as Jonathan Sexton again shown his class in the games he played before also being injured, with Craig Gilroy and Munster man Simon Zebo also showing their potential.
England v Wales – March 9th, 2014
England will be aiming to gain revenge on Wales for their 30-3 defeat this year when they meet again at Twickenham, the loss in Cardiff ended England’s hopes of a Grand Slam and was by a margin big enough to also deprive them of the Championship, so they will be looking for payback come March the 9th. Wales’s 2013 Tournament got off to a bad start with the 22-30 home defeat to Ireland, but they then composed themselves to win in against France in Paris, to create the momentum needed to subsequently win all their remaining games and capture the Championship for the second year in a row. It will be a fascinating contest against the English, as the Welsh have talent in abundance, with an enormous fourteen players included in the British and Irish Lions tour in 2013. Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts and Sam Warburton all involved and quality players for the Welsh.
Italy v England – March 15th, 2014
Last up in the forthcoming 2014 Six Nations Tournament is the game against the Italy Rugby Union in Rome, the Azzurri are improving every year and can now compete with the rest of the other nations. Italy had a decent 2013 tournament with the fantastic opening day victory over the French in Rome the highlight; they also pushed England all the way at Twickenham and only went down by 18-11. The Italians have players plying their trade in both the French Top Fourteen and Aviva Premiership, as well as the two Italian teams taking part in the RaboDirect Pro12. This is all contributing to improving the national side, which is shown by their recent performances. Their squad includes Leicester Tigers prop Martin Castrogiovanni, Gonzalo Canale and inspirational Captain Sergio Parisse.
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Twickenham Stadium is situated in East London, in Richmond upon-Thames. It is home to the England Rugby International team, and is the largest stadium in the world devoted only to the sport of Rugby. It opened its gates for the first time in 1909 and first held a capacity of 20,000. After much expansion it is now the second largest stadium in the UK behind Wembley and is the fifth largest stadium in Europe. The capacity of the stadium is 82,000.
Six Nations 2013
Ranked 5th in the World, England are ranked second highest out of the teams competing in the Six Nations in 2013. England are the current holders of the Calcutta Cup and the Millenium Trophy. These cups are contested throughout the Tournament. Stuart Lancaster is widely expected to lead England into his first Six Nations Tournament as Head Coach of England.
England was runners up in the competition last year and with a disappointing World Cup campaign in 2011, they will go out and prove they are a side to be recognised. Many England stars will be aiming to be included in the Autumn Internationals as the preparations begin. There are places to be contested, no more so than at Fly Half position, as Owen Farrell has competition from an in form Danny Cipriani and Saracens veteran Charlie Hodgson. Chris Robshaw is the current captain of the England side, yet this could still change. Dylan Harley and Ben Foden are two established members of the squad to miss out on the Autumn tests through injury which could be a cause for concern for the Six Nations starting in February 2013. England should be going into the Tournament as one of the favourites, though will face stern tests from opposition.
England v Scotland – February 2nd, 2013
England will face Scotland on February 2nd, 2013 at 16:00 at Twickenham Stadium. Scotland is currently 12th in the IRB Rankings. It will be a tough game for the Scots as England is a powerhouse at home at Twickenham. In 63 games between England and Scotland at Twickenham, England won 42. So, England is the clear favourite especially after their performance against New Zealand. Owen Farrell, Toby Flood and Manu Tuilagi are the players to watch. All of them played an outstanding Autumn Internationals. Scotland, on the other side, lost all the Autumn International tests. They lost to New Zealand with 22-51, South Africa with 10-21 and Tonga with 15-21. However, there biggest win in 2012 was the 6-9 win against Australia on June 5th. So, England should not underestimate them. The player to watch for Scotland will be Greig Laidlaw.
England v France – February 23rd, 2013
England will face France on February 23rd at 17:00 at Twickenham. This game will certainly be one of the highlights of the 6 Nations. France is currently 4th in the IRB World Rankings just ahead of England. The “Les Bleus” will face Italy on February 3rd in their first 6 Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico. France will be a tough opponent for England. They won all of their Autumn International tests beating Australia badly with 33-6, Argentina with 39-22 and Samoa with 22-14. The player to watch is Frédéric Michalak. England beat France in 29 out of 45 games at Twickenham, but the match against France will be one of the highlights of the RBS 6 Nations.
England v Italy – March 10th, 2013
England will play Italy on Match 10th at 16:00 at Twickenham. England faced Italy in 18 games and has never lost a game away and at home. So, England is the clear favourite on March 10th. Italy won against Tonga with 28-23 at the Autumn Internationals, but got beaten badly by New Zealand with 10-42. The players to watch in the Azzurri team are Fly-half Kristopher Burton and Luciano Orquera.
England was the first ever team to play rugby union international in their first official test match against Scotland in 1871. England won the very first Home Nations Triple Crown against Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They also doubled their Triple Crowns the following year. After domination of the early years of the Home Nations, England had a lull in results and didn’t win it from 1895 for 15 years. Between 1905 and 1909, England played first games against New Zealand, France, South Africa and Australia. In 1909, the RFU moved to a permanent base when Twickenham opened.
England won their first game at Twickenham against Wales and this began a formidable era for the England side. England won the Five Nations (formally Home Nations) in 1910, which included France as well the original four International Teams. England went on to win a Grand Slam in 1913 and 1914 and then the first competition after the First World War. The 1920’s and 30’s were dominated by the England side, winning 3 Grand Slams and 2 Triple Crowns, as well as recording their first win against the All Blacks in 1935. The first ever England coach was appointed in 1969 and his first match was an 11-8 victory over the Springboks (South Africa) at Twickenham. Although his England record wasn’t the best and he resigned in 1971 having won only 3 games from 11. England started the 1980’s with their first Grand Slam title in 25years; however in ’83 they didn’t manage to win a single game and so collected the Wooden Spoon. The 80’s also saw the first World Cup is held in Australia and New Zealand, where England lost in their Quarter-Final round against Wales. England then in 1991 hosted the World Cup which they subsequently got to the final, only to narrowly lose to a strong Australian side 12-6.
Clive Woodward took over as Head Coach in 1997 and took a tour of the Southern Hemisphere in 1998. Many of the England players made themselves ‘unavailable’ for the tour which was labelled “The Tour from Hell” which saw the Springboks defeat England 76-0. England commenced the 2000’s by winning the first Six Nations as Italy joined in with the yearly competition. 2003 is arguably the best year England Rugby has ever witnessed. England started the year with a Grand Slam, and then went on to win the World Cup down under. They won 20-17 with the most memorable of drop goals from Jonny Wilkinson in the final minutes of extra time. Unfortunately, the year after didn’t provide the same successes and Woodward resigned with Andy Robinson taking over. It wasn’t long before Robinson left this post as head coach, and for the 2007 World Cup Ashton was head coach. He led them to another World Cup Final, only to be beaten by South Africa. In 2011, their World Cup ended with a disappointing defeat to France, amid controversies on and off the pitch.