Journalists’ View: 2019 Guinness Six Nations set to be incredibly competitive

The 2019 Guinness Six Nations is set to be the most competitive Championship in years, according to the pundits, experts and journalists casting an eye on the tournament.

The 2019 Guinness Six Nations is set to be the most competitive Championship in years, according to the pundits, experts and journalists casting an eye on the tournament.

Ahead of the competition, we asked some of the people in the know who they thought would go on to win the much-coveted crown, but even they were divided.

Former England and Harlequins man Ugo Monye tipped England to spark a surprise against Ireland, while Guardian journalist Gerard Meagher backed Ireland to come out on top in Dublin.

The Telegraph’s Mick Cleary anticipates that Scotland could cause a few upsets, while Rúaidhrí O’Connor from the Irish Independent thinks Wales have got what it takes to scoop the title.

This is what our panel of experts had to say:

Monye tips England to succeed

Player turned pundit Monye, who won 14 caps for his country, believes England and Ireland will kick the Championship off with a bang, but he couldn’t hide his allegiances when it came to who he thought would win.

“England v Ireland game is such a big one to start with. The last two years, that’s been the last game, but it really sets the tempo,” he said.

“It’s a titanic battle. I think from an English perspective they would have looked at the performances of the Irish provinces and their international side with a slight bit of envy, but also knowing that this opportunity is coming and for them to right some of their wrongs.

“2018 wasn’t great for England, played 12, won six, lost six, that’s not the consistency which they will be looking for this year.

“They’ll have marked this game for a huge amount of time. For Ireland, it’s a case of continuing as normal.

“I’m totally biased, I’m going to say England. I’m going to have to. I firmly believe that they will be able to go over there and hopefully get the job done.”

Ireland to clinch back-to-back titles

However, Guardian rugby expert Gerard Meagher did not share Monye’s view and he backed Ireland to come away as comfortable winners after Joe Schmidt’s side sealed the Grand Slam at Twickenham in 2018.

He said: “Ireland are the team to beat certainly, first up, England going to Dublin I can’t really see England getting a result.

“I think it will be very cagey, very tight, but I think Ireland, as shown against New Zealand, will just about have too much firepower or too much strength.

“Certainly for England I think they’ll go on, it could well come down to a Grand Slam decider against Wales.”

Scotland could be dark horses

Scotland enter the 2019 Guinness Six Nations with a chance to cause a few upsets according to Telegraph journalist Mick Cleary.

He had been speaking to Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw and was impressed by the fighting talk coming out the Scotland camp.

“Greig Laidlaw was saying that they’ve been tipped because there’s a bit of confidence and they just haven’t lived up to that,” said Cleary.

“So that’s their real challenge and of course that could happen because the two Scottish teams have done very well in Europe.

“However, it’s a big step again into the international arena.

“Certainly they’re promising, but I think it’s a tough a Guinness Six Nations I can remember for quite a few years.”

Wales to reign supreme again?

Irish Independent journalist Rúaidhrí O’Connor put aside his allegiances to back Wales to secure a first Championship title since 2013 after witnessing an impressive Autumn international clean sweep.

He predicted: “I do think there’s going to be scalps. I don’t think there are any real dark horses unless Italy throw a few surprises up.

“I wouldn’t be surprise if any of the five other nations were to go on and win it.

“I’d pick Wales as favourites, I don’t know if I can pick them as my dark horses as well.

“Ireland as defending champions probably have a target on their backs, the schedule is a bit more difficult and a difficult opener against England as well.

“So it just lines up nicely for Wales to take down a couple of rivals, maybe not with a Grand Slam but to get enough points over the time.”