In 2015, a new trophy was made for the 6 Nations. This new edition incorporates the famous history of the tournament as well as its exciting future.
This new design, which replaced the 1993 edition, keeps a vital element of the history of the Championship. The design does this by transferring the names of past winners onto the band of the plinth, with space for future winners.
With ‘Future’ being the operative word, let’s focus on that. Three years on from the trophy being made, where exactly are we?
England have been in control under the rein of their first foreign coach, Eddie Jones, with wins in 2016, 2017. However the ‘Aussie’ was not around in 2015 and it was Ireland who had their names engraved first.
The 2018 6 Nations is building up to be another classic with five of the six teams in the top 10 ranked teams in the world and 4 teams making up the top five!
England are currently sitting second in the world rankings with Ireland in third. After their first win over Wales in 10 years, it has seen Scotland rise to their highest ever position to fifth.
For England to win the 6 Nations again this year, they would have to do something that no team has ever done. That achievement is to win three 6 Nations tournaments in a row.
Many have come close over the years with France winning two in a row in 06’ and 07’, Wales winning in 2012 and 2013 and Ireland winning in 2014 and 2015.
This is not the first time England have had the opportunity to win three consecutive tournaments.
Back in 2000, the year the five nations became six with the inclusion of Italy, England won the first ever six teamed tournament and then followed it with another win in 2001 to then only loose out to France in 2002 with the Red Roses finishing in second place.
Records are ‘made to be broken’ but it seems that England’s young players are the ones to be ‘breaking’ as the English medical room is filling up by the day.
Several key names who form the core of Eddie Jones squad have had their 6 Nations campaigns put on hold as they struggle to get themselves fit for the first weekend in February.
Saracens Back Row pair Maro Itoje, who broke his jaw against Harlequins in December, and Billy Vunipola, who required knee surgery in late September, are in a race to get fit not just for England but for Saracens as well.
Worcester Centre Ben Te’o, who injured his ankle in October, is another doubt going in England’s opening match away to Italy.
Ben Te’o’s possible replacement could be rugby fan favourite Manu Tuilagi, 26, who is back in action after three months out with a knee injury.
The Leicester Tiger Centre, has been capped 26 times by England, played in their Champions Cup defeat to Munster.
More recently, Wasps pair Elliot Daly and Nathan Hughes both picked up injuries in their Champions Cup match at home to La Rochelle.
Wasps head coach Dai Young said, “When the scans came back it didn’t look particularly good,”
“Elliot has injured his ankle – he has a syndesmosis injury – which is pretty common. He is going to see the specialist to see whether any surgical intervention is required, which depending on the grade of the injury hopefully it won’t be.”
Daly has scored six tries in 19 England Tests since making his debut against Ireland in the 2016 Six Nations and has played a big part in the majority of Jones’ plans.
Young continued, “Nathan has a MCL injury to his knees. Again, we’re waiting on the specialist to let us know what is required, but we can safely say even the best picture, which is a grade one tear, will require a minimum of four weeks.”
Hughes unfortunately is not a stranger to injuries as he missed the last Autumn Test against Samoa through injury with a different knee problem.
With less than a month to go until the tournament, the 6 Nation’s head coaches will be hoping their players don’t pick up any more late injuries.