Tissot, Official Timekeeper of the NatWest 6 Nations, has invited some rugby experts and legends to share their views on the games and the teams throughout the Championship.
Next up is former France flanker Olivier Magne giving his views and predictions ahead of Round Four. Stay tuned for a chance to win a watch, and don’t forget to share your #TopMoment of the matches! Ireland v Scotland – Ireland to win an open game
I think Ireland against Scotland will be the match to watch. They are two teams who are still in the hunt for the overall victory and teams who I hope will really play, although it will depend on the conditions of course
It’s a really interesting match-up. Hopefully the Scots will have recovered from the euphoria of beating England.
They will up against a determined Irish team which is very pragmatic and manage their game almost to perfection. They have a very well-drilled game, you know what to expect but it’s incredibly effective. From an Irish perspective, why would you change anything when they are as effective as they are at the moment?
For the Scots, the key will be to try to take advantage of a disorganised game, they need to punish any loose kicks. Ireland kick the ball a lot to put the opponent under pressure and in those situations there are opportunities to attack.
When they look to attack from the set-piece they will be up against an Irish team that is very organised although at times I find there is space out wide so the Scots will have to try take advantage of that.
Scotland certainly have the game to put Ireland under pressure. It will be interesting to see how Ireland get on against a team that tries to play as much as Scotland do. They like to keep the ball so you have to try to stop them and turn the ball over like Scotland did against England.
It’s a contrast in styles that I’m really looking forward to watching and in terms of a prediction I think Ireland will win but it will be an open game so watch out for the Scottish madness. France v England – England to prove too strong
We all know the situation the French team is in with their difficult recent run. The most important thing against Italy was to win. They did that. The French team isn’t completely reassured because there are issues at every level so we’re still hoping for more.
It’s clear though that the players will be under a little less pressure than in recent games because of that win. But the game against England is one that everyone waits for, it’s got a lot of history, so that will bring its own pressure. It will be difficult for them to beat this English team that lost a fortnight earlier.
For France it’s good to have beaten Italy and to have got some confidence and to come in off the back of a win.
England don’t lose two in a row very often, but you can feel they are a little more vulnerable, and lacked some accuracy against Scotland. So there is perhaps something to exploit there.
The start of the game and the preparation this week will be key for France if they are to have a chance of winning. They have to put England under pressure from the start.
As ever France will have to have a good set-piece. England are very efficient in that area. The defence will have to be aggressive but also disciplined because in games with a lot of tension it’s not always easy to keep your calm. The team that commits the fewest errors will win.
At the breakdown, France will have to try to battle for the ball like the Scots, who are excellent in that sector. Even if we don’t have the same players as Scotland, we have some people who can cause problems so it will be a case of getting to the rucks first and contesting for the ball as much as possible.
Considering recent performances, the logic says that England are favourites, they have dominated European rugby over the last couple of years with a Grand Slam, two Championship titles and strong showings in November and they are second in the world. We’re only tenth so England should win.
Then again, it’s a game in Paris, France v England is always different, so hopefully France have a chance. But they will need to produce something they haven’t for the last two years, with discipline, calm, attention to detail and a complete match. We won’t be able to beat this England team if we aren’t at our best.
Wales v Italy – Wales to win with a bonus point
Wales need to try to correct all the little things that stopped them winning the last couple of games when they caused England and Ireland a lot of problems but couldn’t get over the line.
However, a lot of people thought they might struggle coming into the Championship and they have shown a lot of quality so they seem to be gaining in confidence and could earn a big win.
The magic of the NatWest 6 Nations is that teams come from nowhere and there are players who emerge, that’s what makes it so special. Wales have been a bit like that this year, with new players coming through. They are really enjoyable to watch in the way they play. They have not held back and I hope they continue in that style for the rest of the campaign.
Italy need to use these games to see some new players come through, it will help them in the long term. They can’t overthink things but they need to be better at the basics. They have to perform in the set-piece to get more ball, but not to try to copy other teams, they have to play their own game and play with freedom.
I’d expect Wales to get the better of this game and they will be looking for a bonus point.
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