2015 is going to be a fantastic year for rugby in Great Britain, kicking off with the RBS 6 Nations Championship before all attention turns to Rugby World Cup 2015. With the final 6 Nations match and Rugby World Cup being on home soil, every England Rugby player will want to make it a year to remember.
The RBS 6 Nations Championship is arguably the most anticipated in years and all teams will have a lot to prove before Rugby World Cup starts. England travel to Cardiff on 6 February for their first match against Wales, the atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium will be amazing.
It’s great to see Nick Easter and Danny Cipriani return to the training squad for the opening 6 Nations game against Wales, Easter wins his first call-up since 2011, while Cipriani has not been in a 6 Nations squad since 2008.
British and Irish Lions players Alex Corbisero, Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola are back in the 34-man training squad following injury so Stuart Lancaster has plenty of ammunition to choose from. I am also very impressed with the recent performances of Anthony Watson and George Ford from Bath and hope to see them line up in the starting XV against Wales.
At this stage the anticipation at Pennyhill Park will be mounting. The training squad will be cut to the match-day 23 on the Monday or Tuesday before the Wales game, with the final starting XV more than likely announced the Wednesday before the match.
Wales v England is one of the fiercest and oldest rivalries in the competition – dating back over 130 years – this match is sure to produce an epic contest with the passionate Welsh home crowd roaring them home. England beat Wales 29-18 in last season's corresponding fixture at Twickenham. That victory sealed England's first Triple Crown in 11 years. This season's encounter will have added spice due to the fact that England and Wales will be in the same pool at Rugby World Cup 2015 later in the year.
The QBE Internationals in November told England they are a good side. We saw the team learn some valuable lessons against New Zealand and South Africa, which were implemented in the latter matches, with control of where and when to play with the ball in hand. They will need to be disciplined and organised in the Cardiff furnace. With a dominant forward pack and an astute kicking game, England will hope to do damage in the strike-zone by utilising the rich form of key backs in the Champions Cup who are all staking a claim for selection.
Rugby World Cup 2015 is now less than nine months away and I can’t wait until the Tournament kicks off when England take on Fiji at Twickenham Stadium. The 6 Nations will tell us lot about where the team are and I do think that the closer we get to the start of the Tournament the more focused players will become.
Rugby World Cup 2003 was an amazing event to be involved with. The magical final in Sydney represented the culmination of four impressive years of improvement from the England team and sealed the most memorable result in English rugby history. The opportunity for the current team to emulate that success on home soil would be amazing.
Thousands of fans have already guaranteed their places at Rugby’s greatest global event, as a rugby fan it’s definitely a not-to-be-missed event. England Rugby Travel has great packages for all 48 fixtures and you can find out more at www.englandrugbytravel.com/rwc2015 As an England Rugby Travel ambassador I hope to be present at as many England matches as I can be, it’s always a great social occasion
After Cardiff next Friday I am looking forward to watching England’s first home match against Italy at Twickenham. There is always great atmosphere at the ‘Home of England Rugby’ and I feel a real sense of pride when our boys run out onto the pitch.
I hope you have a great time if you are going to Cardiff for the first 6 Nations Match. If you have a moment, check out the video below of the England coaches thoughts on the game. Some really great insight from behind the scenes, let’s hope the England fans can help carry them home!