The 2016 RBS 6 Nations launched in style this morning at the Hurlingham Club in London, and the six captains present an intriguing mix of the old and the new.
There are three brand new skippers for this year’s Championship – that gets underway in ten days’ time on Saturday, February 6 when France welcome Italy to the Stade de France – and they are all hookers.
Rory Best takes the armband for two-time defending champions Ireland after Paul O’Connell’s retirement, Eddie Jones’ England have Dylan Hartley at the helm and France under Guy Noves will be led by Guilhem Guirado.
Those three were joined by Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw, Wales’ Sam Warburton and Italy’s Sergio Parisse on Wednesday – three captains that have led their country with great distinction for many years.
Also attending the launches of both the Men’s and Women’s Championships were Ireland coaches Joe Schmidt and Tom Tierney, while Ireland Women’s captain Niamh Briggs proudly displayed the trophy following the girls in green’s title success last year.
Best and Schmidt will be hoping to make history this year as the first ever team to win the Championship for three years in-a-row, and the Ulster hooker is confident his side are up to the task.
“Whenever you come into the RBS 6 Nations camp for the first time you put everything that has happened with your club sides behind you,” he said.
“The provinces have not done as well in the Champions Cup this season, but I think once we get out there we’ll see that we’ve got a good mix of young players and more experienced guys, so we feel like we’ve got a good balance.
“Right across the board, you have to have a good squad to win things. We’ve done that in the past, and feel like we’ve got people who can come in if they have to and will be excited to do so.”
The Ireland Men kick off their campaign by welcoming Wales to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, February 7 (kick-off 3pm), while Tierney’s Women’s side launch the defence of their crown against the Welsh at Donnybrook the previous day (Saturday, February 6 (kick-off 1pm). Women’s tickets are available to buy here.