January 23, 2022
With Ireland strong, Scotland inconsistent and Wales hit by injuries, it feels as if the top five teams can all beat each other
France favourites and England rebuilding in unusually unpredictable Six Nations | Andy Bull
Twickenham Stadium has a particular smell on a game day. It’s the fug of sweat and condensed breath when you’re pressed up close, sizzling sausages and onions, spilled beer, mud, waxed jackets and, when it’s raining, of wet wool. You used to catch gusts of cigar smoke, too, until they banned smoking. I never thought I would miss it particularly, but round about now anything that offers a hint of spring is welcome. After the past two years, when the Six Nations lost so much of its colour and fun while it was being played in empty stadiums, the prospect of having it back again feels pretty good.
That’s the thing other fans never understand. When people say the Six Nations is the best tournament in the world, they are not talking about the quality of the rugby but everything around it: the good cheer and bellyfuls of beer, the walk down Whitton Road, the Royal Welsh’s regimental goat, the first burst of La Marseillaise and (better yet for everyone else) the way the French will hoot and whistle their own team when they’re losing, the painfully slow going of the opposition coach when stuck behind the pipe band on a slate-grey day at Murrayfield, The Fields of Athenry, the uproar in Cardiff city centre.
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