With the start of the Guinness Six Nations just two days away, our captains and coaches have united to tell you just what makes the Championship so special.
Featuring the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Owen Farrell, Eddie Jones, Johnny Sexton, Charles Ollivon, the stars that make the Guinness Six Nations what it is have shared their thoughts ahead of trying to produce more magic this year.
Wales skipper Jones is hoping to overtake Richie McCaw to become the most-capped international player of all-time and will tie the All Blacks legend if he plays every match in this year’s Guinness Six Nations.
At 34, the towering lock shows no signs of slowing down after being named Player of the Championship last year and as he prepares for his 14th Championship, he reflects on just how special the competition is.
“The Six Nations is growing year on year, I know you hear all the time about how competitive it gets and how much bigger it gets,” said Jones.
“It does, it grows year on year and the anticipation of the fans, the expectation and it’s just everything you want it to be having been a child or a teenager watching the competition and now to be involved is really, really special.”
Andy Farrell will take charge of an Ireland game for the first time on Saturday against Scotland.
Despite spending most of his playing career in rugby league, Farrell doesn’t think there’s a competition in rugby better than this.
“The camaraderie throughout the competition is something that’s unique and special. Everyone looks forward to a big competition,” he said.
“There’s none better than this one.”
England fly-half and Andy’s son, Owen Farrell won the Championship twice with England in 2016 and 2017 but has seen his country finish fifth and second in the two previous years.
Ireland and Wales’ triumphs in the last two years respectively shows how competitive the Guinness Six Nations can be and Farrell loves its unpredictable nature.
“It’s the rivalry of it,” said the England skipper. “How close it is altogether and how tough it is at the same time.
“It’s always been that way, ever since I can remember and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
Farrell’s head coach Eddie Jones is in charge of England in the Guinness Six Nations for the fourth time this year and, despite never playing in the competition, respects the significance the event holds.
“Six countries all geographically close to each other. Historical ties, rugby ties that date back to some of the first games of rugby that’s ever been played,” said Jones.
“And the intensity of competition between those teams.”
Newly-appointed Scotland captain Stuart Hogg was named Player of the Championship in both 2016 and 2017 and admits he looks forward to this competition more than anything else.
“Everyone looks forward to a big competition,” said Hogg. “There’s none bigger than this one.
“You get the chance to play against some of the best international teams in the world. You get to play against the likes of Ireland, Wales, France and Italy.
“Unbelievable teams with world class talent, across every single team. It’s exactly why you picked up a ball as a kid.”
Wales come into this year’s Championship as reigning champions and head coach Wayne Pivac thinks fans and those involved start to look forward to the Guinness Six Nations from the start of every year.
“It’s just one of those tournaments,” said Pivac. “The timing seems to be perfect, you get Christmas and New Year out of the way and then everyone starts to look forward to the Six Nations.
“The fact the countries ae so close together, you can get crowds on the day that aren’t 80-20. You get a bigger proportion of opposition crowd than you would in other parts of the world.”
France’s Fabien Galthié feels the Guinness Six Nations is more than just a competition but brings nations together.
“In sport and rugby we have the Six Nations,” said Les Bleus coach. “A competition that brings people together.”
France skipper Ollivon added: “It produces the biggest moments with the most emotions. So it is very exciting to be able to participate as captain.”