The 2019 Guinness Six Nations and 2019 Women’s Six Nations was launched in London on Wednesday, with all 12 captains and coaches in attendance to kick off two months of thrilling rugby.
Owen Farrell and Sarah Hunter (England), Guilhem Guirado and Gaelle Hermet (France), Rory Best and Ciara Griffin (Ireland), Sergio Parisse and Manuela Furlan (Italy), Greig Laidlaw and Lisa Thomson (Scotland) and Alun Wyn Jones and Carys Phillips (Wales) were all present to mark the launch at The Hurlingham Club, SW London.
The Guinness Six Nations starts next weekend in what’s set to be a highly anticipated opening game when France host Wales at the Stade de France on Friday 1st February. On Saturday 2nd February, Scotland will host Italy at the BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh and reigning champions Ireland are bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era as they host England at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
That is one of the most eagerly-anticipated matches of the Championship but Ireland captain Rory Best is taking it one step at a time.
“It’s something we’re not focusing on, being favourites, it’s external to the group,” he said.
“We met on Sunday and talked about making sure we prepare well, on Saturday week it’s going to be no different. We’re going to meet a strong England team and need to prepare well. It’s going to be a massive challenge,
“It’s very hard to do Grand Slams, for us it’s all about making sure we’re right to go. It’s very boring and cliched but it’s all about preparing well and there’s no greater game to start with than that game against England to sharpen the mind.”
The Women’s Championship starts with last year’s runners up, England, travelling to Energia Park, Dublin to play Ireland on Friday 1st February, on the same night Scotland host Italy at the Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow. The final match of Round One sees France looking to repeat their Grand Slam success of last year when they host Wales at the GGL (Altrad) Stadium in Montpellier.
The Six Nations is one of the world’s best attended sports events and regularly attracts record TV and online audiences in the UK, France, Ireland, Italy and all over the world.
Ben Morel, Chief Executive of the Six Nations said: “For 135 years, the Six Nations has been rugby’s greatest tournament and as we all look forward to the kick-off of this year’s Championship it promises to once again offer huge excitement and fierce competition in both the men’s and women’s games.”
“I would like to extend a very warm welcome to our new title sponsor Guinness. Guinness has been a tremendous partner of both Six Nations and our Unions for many years and we are delighted to have them on board.”
Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer at Diageo, added: “This is a hugely proud moment for our business, which has always been synonymous with a passion for rugby.
“Working closely with the Six Nations, we have six years to demonstrate our love of this beautiful game, including helping to drive and expand on rugby’s loyal fanbase, heighten the extraordinary experience of spectators in and outside the stadiums and to champion the women’s game, bringing it to a wider public.
“We can’t wait for the action to kick-off!”