Six Nations '08 (Spoilers)

Well I meant to start this thread a couple weeks ago, but it took me a while to download and watch the matches (still haven’t seen all of 'em). I know there’s others out there watching. Impressions? Predictions? Damning criticism/ranting/raging about the Irish?

I for one have been thoroughly disappointed by Ireland. They should have manhandled Italy in the first match and, quite frankly, I think Vincent Clerc could have beaten them without the rest of the French team this past week. I’ll give them a lot of credit, especially the pack, for pulling it together in the second half. But overall I wouldn’t be surprised to see them lose to any of the other home nations, especially Wales.

I honestly expected more from Scotland this year. After their showing in the world cup and having watched some of their boys play for Edinburgh (Blair, Henderson) and Nikky Walker of the Ospreys, I really thought they’d come out in better form. I haven’t watched the whole France match, but from what I’ve read, it was more of a clinic than a test match.

I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the Wales matches so far, but they look solid. They play France in the last match of the tournament, and from the looks of things, it could be the deciding match. And a thriller at that.

I haven’t seen enough of England’s play to really comment, but next weekend’s match against France should be good, perhaps a repeat of last year’s upset?

My predictions for next week are:

Wales beats Italy by a fair margin.
Ireland Scotland will be hotly contested. Ireland should win the forwards game but if the Scots back line ca find those gaping holes in the Irish defense it could spell trouble for Ireland.
I called the England France upset last year, but that was more hope than belief. But what the hell, I’ll stick to my guns (and general hatred of French rugby) and call it again. If England can frustrate the French pack enough to force stupid mistakes and bad penalties, and contain Vincent Clerc (which will be some feat), they can pull off the upset.