Six Nations
View from Down Under: England finally worth watching under Fast Eddie
Greg Growden
February 5, 2016
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In the coming weeks, us hayseeds from the south will be on Six Nations watch. Or more particularly Fast Eddie watch.

Usually the appeal Down Under of observing England's progress during the Six Nations tournament is akin to picking up a black snake. We have enough turgid teams, like the ultra-dullsville Western Force, to infuriate us over here to ever be bothered getting up in the middle of the night to watch England go through their dated slapstick comedy routine.

But now, with England HQ finally getting its act together by putting in charge someone who actually has some idea, it's a completely different scenario. There is even a sense of excitement over observing whether our man from the rough side of the Sydney tracks can get through all the piffle and poncing about that surrounds England Rugby and resuscitate a beast so humiliated by the recent World Cup experience.

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The added attraction is that all this is the perfect prelude to England's tour to Australia this June, the most eagerly awaited tour not involving the British & Irish Lions to these parts in years. Usually the June trip to Australia from an often woefully understrength Six Nations team is in the wake-me-up-when-it's-over category.

With Eddie Jones in charge of the visitors, the Australia-England series will instead take on the atmosphere of traditional Ashes cricket encounters. Even in an England tracksuit, Jones will remain the mouth from the south and there will be plenty of edge through that month. The Jones-Michael Cheika intellectual tussle is bound to be as frothy as the legendary Jones-Clive Woodward media conference sledgeathons of a decade or so ago.

And by then, we should know whether Jones has made any sort of difference, as well as how many he has got offside at Twickers.

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The southern fascination about this year's Six Nations does not end there. Far from it. While the 2015 World Cup turned into an offshore Rugby Championship, with the four southern powers hogging the semifinal spots after England decided that being a non-participating host was their preferred option, there was still a feeling that too much went the way of those who had to travel the furthest.

We comprehend Scotland's infuriation after their one-point quarterfinal loss to Australia. The Scots were dudded big time. Such major encounters should not be determined by relatively minor infringements. It showed once again that the rugby law book is an ass.

It also showed that those in charge of the game know how to be a complete ass as well, ridiculously apportioning blame when they threw the offending referee Craig Joubert to the jackals by issuing a media release stating that his decision was wrong. It wasn't the decision that was wrong; it was the law book that allows the referee to get all panicky over the most minor of on-field actions. The law book needs a massive clean up.

Referee Craig Joubert runs off the pitch after blowing the final whistle
Referee Craig Joubert runs off the pitch after blowing the final whistle© AP Photo/Matt Dunham

We also comprehend that we did not see the best of Wales and Ireland during the tournament, due to a diabolical injury toll. Their campaigns -- particularly that of Wales -- were derailed due to an impossible-to-overcome casualty list.

So there is the tantalising prospect of seeing whether Scotland can continue the advancements they showed during the World Cup, and whether Wales and Ireland still have any excuses now that they have so many notable names back for the Six Nations.

Advancements from all three should be anticipated, as they all have southerners in charge: Vern Cotter, Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt have all come through the tough New Zealand system, hence know everything there is about getting the best out of whatever resource they are provided with.

And hopefully they will have learned the lessons of the last World Cup, with the most crucial coming from the north.

Japan's extraordinary triumph over South Africa was without doubt the No.1 highlight of the 2015 tournament; it also has to rank among the greatest of all World Cup moments.

Six Nations preview: Who will take the early advantage?

Here was so much you needed to know about winning. If you commit, refuse to shirk, develop good technique, ignore reputations, take absolutely no notice of what the media think of you, make certain you relentlessly pursue victory even when a draw may be the wiser option, and most importantly don't have yourself on, anything is possible.

Wonder how many times Fast Eddie will show a video of a certain Brighton game to his England players this year?

Plenty, probably to the extent that the players will soon be pleading to him: "Please sir, no more."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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