World Cup should be main focus

Former England flyhalf STUART BARNES, writing on, says the obsession with results over performance in the Six Nations will count against Europe's best at the 2015 World Cup.


Barnes says the teams should not have the same Six Nations aspirations.

'Realistically, Scotland and Italy are not going to win the World Cup; they are probable quarter-finalists at best. And so for these teams, every international is as important as the next. Three wins for either of these sides would represent a triumphant campaign and, quite frankly, to hell with the future and the World Cup.'

However, the other four Six Nations sides, including defending champions Wales, all have a chance of reaching the semi-finals of the 2015 tournament.

'There is so much talk about Wales trying to become the first team to win three outright titles,' writes Barnes. 'It would be a fine achievement but an achievement on the local scale. While Wales have been dominating the European tier of Test match rugby they have been utterly embarrassed by the record of results against the big three.

'And here is the dilemma for Wales. Do they wear the blinkers and continue with the power, pace and pure physical presence that has taken them to the top of the European game or do they risk a little experimentation now and then to prepare for matches against teams that are a physical match for them?'

Barnes believes Wales, England, France and Ireland should 'mix and match' players in the Six Nations to prepare them for the World Cup.

'The greatest European team of the century is the England one which won the World Cup in 2003. They did experiment in Six Nations matches and blew games they really should have won. The game at Wembley against Wales and a howling stupid performance in the wind and rain of Edinburgh spring immediately to mind but the best lessons tend to be those that hurt. In taking risks, in pushing the boundaries of what they could and could not do, England learned how to beat the best.'

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