From potential ‘new coach bounce’ to the power of Ireland and France, championship can raise interest before the World Cup

It was hard to put your finger on it but there was a different feel to this year’s Six Nations launch. Perhaps it was the Netflix cameras around every corner seeking to project rugby to a wider global audience. Maybe it had something to do with Eddie Jones no longer being around to stir the media pot. There was even a solo acoustic guitarist serenading the hacks as they munched their lunch, which was unquestionably a first.

Or maybe, just maybe, it was a sign of a professional sport making a concerted effort to raise its game. One by one the head coaches of the competing nations stepped up to the microphone and spoke with intelligence and candour. Contentious subjects such as the new waist-high tackle trial in England were openly addressed rather than swerved. And the next few weeks, everyone agreed, would be unmissable.

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