The autumn internationals have a habit of setting the mood for any upcoming Six Nations campaign. Indeed, the November tests either increase expectation for a particular country if they enjoy a string of positive results or on the contrary and as I’m sure you’ve guessed, if the end-of-year campaign turns into a nightmare, everyone watches the Six Nations season opener from behind the couch.
In Ireland’s case, you would have to say that the autumn internationals couldn’t have gone any better after the men in green recorded a one hundred per cent win ratio. Notably, one of the three tests they played was against New Zealand that ended up in a remarkable 29-20 win at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland beat the All Blacks! #C4Rugby | #IrishRugby 🍀 | #IREvNZL pic.twitter.com/tYgjfnjrgz
— Channel 4 Sport (@C4Sport) November 13, 2021
Japan and Argentina were the other nations that Ireland put to the sword in November, which you might argue was always going to happen, but both teams have shown they’re far from minnows anymore. In addition to that, Ireland were able to rack up over 50 points in both games which was another indicator that this team is primed for a Six Nations campaign that concludes with them as the overall champions. Can it happen?
It’s impossible to say for certain, but a favourable home draw against Wales on the 5th of February suggests Ireland can get off to a winning start at the Aviva Stadium. In many ways, a strong start dictates how a team fares in the early rounds, and whilst you can’t win the Six Nations in February, you can definitely lose it.
Another point to consider when weighing up Ireland’s chances of becoming eventual champions of the 2022 Six Nations is that, as we can tell from the past, any Six Nations winning campaign depends on earning bonus points against the smaller nations.
So if we go back to Ireland’s form in the autumn internationals for a second, we can tell that they’re crossing the whitewash with ease which suggests that they will score more than four or more tries when they come up against Italy who tend to be on the receiving end of some hefty defeats in the Six Nations. Indeed, Aidan Perkins reflects here on the top five highest ever score in Six Nations matches revealingly, Italy were involved in three of them. This means that Ireland’s Six Nation hopes could rest on their clash against the Italians at the Aviva Stadium on the 27th of February and ultimately how many times they go over for a try.
Ireland continue their unbeaten start to their 2018 Six Nations campaign 👏💪
☘️✅ France 13-15 Ireland
☘️✅ Ireland 56-19 Italy
☘️✅ Ireland 37-27 Wales
They keep their dreams of a #SixNations Grand Slam alive… 🏉🏆#bbcsixnations #IREvWAL pic.twitter.com/g7VdnW8Xox
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) February 24, 2018
Of course, there’s also the small matter of beating England, Scotland, and then France in Paris.
As briefly alluded to, it’s impossible to say for certain if Ireland will win the Six Nations and when you read back that last sentence, you do feel the wind being taken out of your sails. However, a nation can only start as they mean to go and Ireland have found impressive momentum in 2021 that they will use to try to win this competition for the first time since 2018.