T-minus three weeks. The 2019 Six Nations is almost upon us, and you can feel the anticipation in the air. As we are in a World Cup year, this year's tournament takes on added significance as teams prepare for the big one in the autumn.
After Grand Slam glory last year, Ireland will be hoping to replicate their success in 2019. They enter the tournament as favourites having followed up their Six Nations crown with three wonderful performances in the November internationals.
Ireland will open their campaign when England roll into town on February 2nd, with Eddie Jones' men no doubt having revenge on their mind after that famous game in Twickenham on St. Patrick's day. If you are not already excited enough, take a look at this Virgin Media promo to get yourself in the mood.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) January 11, 2019
Spine tingling stuff.
While the Six Nations is always a hugely important competition, the World Cup in Japan is already firmly in the minds of Irish rugby fans. Joe Schmidt will have at his disposal perhaps the most talented Irish squad ever assembled, one that has every chance of advancing deep into the tournament.
Injuries of course can have a massive say both in the lead up to and during the tournament, but this Ireland team is much better equipped to cope with that scenario than previous iterations. Joey Carbery's magnificent performance last night was yet another example of the strength in depth present at the moment, something that has been sorely lacking in previous tournaments.
The bruising encounter against France in the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup was enough to derail Ireland's hopes in the quarter finals, when a number of injuries to key personnel took its toll.
The road to a successful World Cup begins in three weeks time, and the Six Nations will be vital in building momentum as we embark on perhaps the biggest year in the history of Irish rugby.