Discover the 6 things you need to know about this year’s tournament, as it prepares for action, live on the BBC and ITV
By Virgin TV Edit
February means one thing and one thing only. And we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day.
The 2021 Guinness Six Nations is here, with Europe’s fiercest foes primed and ready for battle across the continent. From the first crunching tackle to the last, you can follow all of the drama live on the BBC and ITV.
Last season’s stop-start tournament was finally wrapped up in November, as England held their nerve to clinch their third title in five years. But if 2020’s tussle for European dominance was close, this year’s competition looks set to be even closer.
Ahead of the big kick-off, here are six things to know about the 2021 Guinness Six Nations – and head to the bottom of the page to find out where you can watch every single match from the championship...
1. The opening round is a belter
Bang! If you were expecting to be eased into this year’s action you were sorely mistaken. An intriguing bout between Italy and France kicks off the drama in round one, before England host Scotland at Twickenham and Ireland travel to Wales in a pair of epic encounters. This is the Six Nations – there really is no messing about.
2. England are missing key men
The reigning champions aren’t quite in crisis territory, but some big absences through injury are cause for concern. Bath flanker Sam Underhill, Saracens prop Mako Vunipola and Wasps lock Joe Launchbury are all crocked, while Bristol prop Kyle Sinckler is suspended for round one and Joe Marler is missing due to personal reasons. Don’t expect coach Eddie Jones to look worried, though. The man has a poker face for the ages.
3. Wayne Pivac needs results
There’s no other way to put this: Wales had a stinker of a 2020. Despite a couple of decent results at the end of the year in the Autumn Nations Cup, four defeats from five in the Six Nations gave new coach Wayne Pivac a rude awakening after taking over from Warren Gatland. Another poor campaign will pile the pressure on Pivac, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Wales are only ever dangerous when their backs are against the wall.
4. Beware the French
France only lost two matches last year, but that was all it took to narrowly stop them landing both the Six Nations title and the Autumn Nations Cup. Such are the margins at international level. We’re currently in a “France are good” cycle, so expect Les Bleus to come out fighting again this time around, as they look to get their hands on the crown for the first time since 2010. And, let’s be honest, an in-form France always makes for a more interesting championship.
5. Things just got worse for Italy
If failing to win a Six Nations match since 2013 wasn’t bad enough, the Azzurri have been dealt a major blow ahead of this year’s tournament. Star full-back Matteo Minozzi has pulled out of coach Franco Smith’s squad, revealing he’s not prepared to be confined to a bubble for the next two months. With 11 tries in 22 appearances, the Wasps man will be a massive loss for the Italians. Their quest to find that elusive win has been made that much harder.
6. Farrell urges Irish caution
Ireland’s coach is not one to get carried away. Despite having a squad packed full of talent, Andy Farrell believes domestic and European club fixtures cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic will have made his players not match-sharp. He has a point, but it’s one that applies to all of the sides in the 2021 Six Nations. What does it all mean? It means with players possibly suffering from a bit of rust, we could have one of the most unpredicatable tournaments in years…
2021 Guinness Six Nations fixtures
Italy v France
Saturday 6 February, kick-off 2.15pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
England v Scotland
Saturday 6 February, kick-off 4.45pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
Wales v Ireland
Sunday 7 February, kick-off 3pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
England v Italy
Saturday 13 February, kick-off 2.15pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
Scotland v Wales
Saturday 13 February, kick-off 4.45pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Ireland v France
Sunday 14 February, kick-off 3pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
Italy v Ireland
Saturday 27 February, kick-off 3.15pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
Wales v England
Saturday 27 February, kick-off 4.45pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
France v Scotland
Sunday 28 February, kick-off 4pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Italy v Wales
Saturday 13 March, kick-off 3.15pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
England v France
Saturday 13 March, kick-off 4.45pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
Scotland v Ireland
Saunday 14 March, kick-off 3pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Scotland v Italy
Saturday 20 March, kick-off 2.15pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
Ireland v England
Saturday 20 March, kick-off 4.45pm, ITV HD (CH 103/113)
France v Wales
Saturday 20 March, kick-off 9pm, BBC One HD (CH 101)
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
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ITV HD is subject to regional variation. ITV HD is not available where STV HD or UTV HD is available.