Round 1 – Wales v Ireland (Principality Stadium, February 4)
The much-anticipated return of Warren Gatland as Wales head coach adds an extra layer of intrigue to the opening fixture of 2023 Six Nations. After a wretched 2022 season that included defeats to Italy and Georgia, the Kiwi coach will seek to reinvigorate his troops and home advantage at Principality Stadium promises an intense atmosphere in Cardiff.
When Ireland begins its quest for a possible Six Nations that could lead to a Grand Slam, it hopes to silence the passionate Welsh supporters. As a result of Johnny Sexton’s continued growth under Andy Farrell, Cardiff will be a tough test for a massive year for him and his team.
Round 2 – Ireland v France (Aviva Stadium, February 11)
The main title contenders face each other in Dublin on February 11 in what is arguably the best pre-tournament tie.
The teams are expected to have won – against Wales and Italy respectively – and this match could make or break their silverware ambitions. France is away to both the Irish and English this year, but winning at the Aviva Stadium would boost their hopes of another Slam. As Ireland have both France and England at home in 2023, a win here would help them achieve that coveted sweep.
Round 4 – England v France (Twickenham, March 11)
Our next match is a round four clash – or should we say Le Crunch – between old enemies England and France at Twickenham. It is uncertain whether Steve Borthwick will have given England that bounce or if his approach will take time to produce results, but the English could come into this match with three wins out of three if they won their openers against Scotland, Italy and Wales.
This Twickenham fixture is only heightened by the fact that France could be unbeaten – if they get past Ireland – or at worst still be in the Six Nations title race. Sadly, Les Bleus haven’t beat England at home since 2007, so they’ll want to end that drought.
Round 5 – Scotland v Italy (Murrayfield, March 18)
Our sincerest apologies go out to Scotland and Italy supporters but this final round clash at Murrayfield may well decide this year’s Wooden Spoon. In this year’s Championship, Italy will hope to build on 2022’s famous victory in Wales, but without fly-half Paolo Garbisi, it’s hard to see them claiming scalps. It is expected that the Azzurri are 0 from 4 at this point, but they will be eager to prove their doubters wrong.
Scotland, however, has the potential to be even further up the table if they can string together back-to-back performances, however, the pressure could be very much on against Italy in game one of the final day due to away trips to England and France as well as a probable defeat to Ireland.
Round 5 – Ireland v England (Aviva Stadium, March 18)
This could be Ireland’s last leg of the first Grand Slam since 2018, which would provide a huge boost ahead of the World Cup if things go as expected. It is true that there is still a lot to go through before Round Five, but based on the injuries to France right now, it feels like this is their year.
A six-day turnaround after a Round Four trip to Scotland is not ideal for Farrell’s men, but with the Aviva Stadium packed to the rafters and a silverware sweep just 80 minutes away, it will be an important milestone in their journey as a team, as England come to Dublin hoping to spoil the party. In 2023, if the tournament unfolds the way we have predicted, it promises to be the perfect finale to rugby’s greatest championship.