It’s unlikely fans will be on the terraces but the 15 upcoming fixtures promise to be a treat for those watching from home. Here’s all you need to know…
When last year’s instalment of the Six Nations got underway 11 months ago the likes of Twickenham, Murrayfield and the Aviva Stadium played host to packed crowds.
Optimism was in the air, beer was flowing and there wasn’t a face mask in sight. The hangover from the 2019 Rugby World Cup was behind these six teams and it was time to start afresh and look forward to a scintillating summer.
A year on and the Six Nations landscape is very different. For a tournament that thrives on the atmosphere of chilled supporters huddled on the terraces, the echoed silence witnessed during the Autumn Nations Cup offers a bitter taste of what is to come.
The 2021 Six Nations will be severely worse off for the lack of supporters. With coronavirus rates rising across the UK and curfews implemented in both France and Italy, it seems unlikely any fans will be on the terraces for the 15 upcoming fixtures.
Fulfilling the 2021 Six Nations fixture list is also a worry. Games get underway on 6 February but French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has sought assurances that France’s trips to England and Ireland will be Covid-safe, in the wake of Champions Cup ties being postponed.
The Women’s Six Nations and the Men’s Under-20s tournament have already been postponed due to the virus.
But outside of the turmoil surrounding the staging of the 2021 Six Nations, team preparations appear to be going well. 2021 Six Nations fixtures and TV channel
France head coach Fabien Galthie has named a strong mix of class and upcoming talent in his 37-man squad, and will hope for a repeat of their Autumn Nations Cup run, where Les Bleus remained unbeaten until the “final” against England – at which stage their best players had returned to their clubs thanks to a labour agreement with the Top 14.
No such issues should affect Galthie this time, with the coach naming just three uncapped players – Donovan Taofifenua, Georges-Henri Colombe Reazel and Julien Delbouis – in his otherwise experienced squad. A first Six Nations title since 2010 could be on its way to Paris.
Both Wayne Pivac and Eddie Jones are expected to draft in youngsters to bolster their squads for the upcoming run of international fixtures – although England’s preparations have been dinted somewhat by the suspension of Kyle Sinckler for their opening tie with Scotland.
As for Wales, captain Alun Wyn Jones is hoping to have recovered from a knee injury suffered in December in time to face Ireland on 7 February.