Six Nations

It's January 1947, and 21-year-old veterinary student Micky Steele-Bodger has just found out he's been picked for England. "I heard it on the wireless", he recalls. He would be playing against Wales - and it would be a match with extra special meaning.
Like questionable fashion tastes, rugby strategies too often seem just as whimsical. Initially entrenched in some simplified notion of the now, they're then dumped after dubious overuse in ways that weren't originally intended.
A Six Nations Championship on the eve of a British and Irish Lions campaign always fizzes with more intensity than usual. Players push themselves to the very limit of their athletic abilities in a bid to impress the selectors and gain a coveted place on the aeroplane for a tour which, for most, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the pinnacle of their rugby career.
Whilst I am not what could be described as a follower of rugby union, the upcoming six nations tournament will be launched with predictable fanfare and, in all fairness, large crowds and high levels of public interest.
If travel restrictions occur, our European counterparts will likely encounter the same difficulties when trying to catch games on British soil. We could begin to see stadiums, even pitches, bare, which could have real knock-on effects for the game as a whole.
After the lows of September and October 2015 English rugby is starting to get a spring back in its step, Dylan Hartley and his side have a Grand Slam within their grasp and it appears that the RFU's selection was the right one. 
Rugby has long been one of the UK's major sports, with supporters flocking from all over the country to follow the home nations. The RBS Six Nations has always played a big part in attracting fans to the sport. In fact, it's never been more popular - as shown by the record breaking British TV audience of 9.63 million who saw England fall short on the final day of last year's tournament.
It was a stage that Eddie Jones' England almost slipped up on however their opening purpose combined with sheer will and guts saw them through to deliver a hugely satisfying 25-21 victory.
Eddie Jones may not be a native Englishman however he fully understands the ferocity of the rivalry between England and Wales. It is the most potent of all in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the one that has provided some of the most intense RBS 6 Nations test matches in recent years and Saturday's will have an extra edge due to their recent history...
What makes this year's Six Nations so exciting is match-ups like these, match-ups that will potentially go down in rugby folklore, and I personally cannot wait for the theatre, the action to begin. A world of pain lies in wait for the defences of both teams and when these two titans have the ball, prepare for the ground to shake.
Despite the increasing acceptance of the LGBT community, LGBT athletes and fans are still cruelly distanced from the full embrace of the community around sport. While other elements of society are beginning to realise the tangible and intangible benefits of LGBT inclusion, sport is far from an inclusive industry where all LGBT individuals are accepted and free to bring their whole selves to work. Everyone loses in this arrangement.
I've been lucky enough to attend some major sports events during a long career - the Olympics included - but there's something very special about the Six Nations. It's the spectacle, the history and tradition, sold out stadiums across fabulous capital cities. Yes rugby fans love it, but so too my mum. Such is the appeal of this grand old tournament over 24million people tuned in last year on (BBC) TV in the UK with nine million alone watching the thrilling climax.
As another major rugby tournament draws near, recent discussion has focused on the risk of head trauma and concussion, both short and long term, which has become a highly debated issue in sports across the world. Much of the impetus for this has arisen from American sports such as American Football and ice hockey.
England's new head coach is not your shy and retiring type, far from it, instead he is a charismatic and forthright Australian that knows what he wants. He has made it very clear that this will be his International side that beats to the sound of his drum, and today he made his first significant step towards that by announcing the 33 individuals in the RBS 6 Nations and Elite Player Squad.
The long and the short of it is that Eddie Jones has some serious thinking to do and pressure on his shoulders to nail it first time. He is expected to announce his EPS squad in just a week's time and today, on the 6th January, there are just 31 days until the BT Murrayfield Stadium awaits Jones and his side for their first International encounter...
Big statement time: Ireland will reach the World Cup final. Now I would have said this even if England had taken the title yesterday. I feel that out of all the Northern Hemisphere teams (and I'm including Wales and England in this) they seem to be best placed to challenge for the World Cup.
In the early stages of this week they'll be some sore English bodies and pensive players however their hearts and minds will be in a much better place than they were this time two weeks ago knowing that they have laid the foundations for one final, winner takes all, Six Nations' showdown.
The Italian captain is quite simply one of the greatest players of his generation and deserves to be mentioned alongside the likes of Mervyn Davies, Brian Lochore and Hennie Muller as one of the truly great number eights in rugby history.
Hearts across the country predicted an English win by 3, based on the character they showed on the road in Cardiff and the flair showcased in both of the opening fixtures it delivered high hopes of a fourth consecutive victory over Ireland. However after eighty minutes of rugby, those hopes were dashed, England were beaten and they were beaten well by an steely Irish side.
Going to Pay to View does not deny people the opportunity to watch altogether, but the money that it brings, if well spent, can provide thousands with new opportunities to get involved: in this respect, it seems that pay to view broadcasting can be the egalitarian way, after all.