Gatland : Nothing rivals the Six Nations

Warren Gatland says nothing rivals the Six Nations

Wales coach Warren Gatland says that the no other competition in rugby can rival the Northern Hemisphere’s Six Nations Championship.

Europe’s elite international competition starts next weekend and comes after none of the Six Nations teams made the Rugby World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

New Zealander Gatland, whose association with the Six Nations dates back to his first involvement as Ireland coach in 1998, says that the fans play a massive part in making the Six Nations what it is.

“There is no doubt there is some absolute quality in the Rugby Championship,” the New Zealander said at the launch of this year’s Six Nations.

“We have seen that and we can’t argue with that in terms of the World Cup. ”

“But as a competition, nothing rivals the Six Nations. It’s not just a rugby game, it’s an event, it’s bragging rights for 12 months,” added Gatland, who has won three Championships, including two Grand Slams, with Wales.

“What’s brilliant about it and what the southern hemisphere can’t replicate is the amount of away fans. That’s what creates the atmosphere in stadiums. That’s special, it’s absolutely brilliant. There’s the history of the tournament as well.”

In the Six Nations, the teams play each other just once in the course of a Championship and Gatland said: “Perhaps where the Rugby Championship has a slight advantage is those home and away fixtures and the flexibility to be a bit more expansive in the way teams play.

“This tournament is over so quickly, there’s a lot of external pressure on teams and coaches to get results and perform. You lose a game and everyone’s desperate to get a result.

“It’s all about winning rather than the way that you play.”

“Conversely, on the final weekend last year, we saw when the shackles came off and teams had to go out and play, we saw what we are capable of doing,” said Gatland in a reference to a day where 27 tries were scored in three matches, with Ireland winning the tournament on points difference.

“We saw some brilliant rugby. If we were able to produce that on a more consistent basis, then I think we would compete more with the southern hemisphere.

“Maybe long term the best thing for northern hemisphere rugby is to forget about the pressure of just winning. Sometimes you are going to have great games of rugby and one team is going to lose,” explained Gatland, who also coached the 2013 British and Irish Lions to a series win in Australia.

“It doesn’t mean you have had a terrible campaign. If we could be more positive and play more positive rugby I think that would have a good impact on the game in the northern hemisphere.”

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