Time to indulge again – because it’s February

Six Nations 2018: Ireland’s Joey Carbery in action with England’s Richard Wigglesworth and Mako Vunipola

January sees many people decide to give up guilty pleasures as part of their soul-cleansing New Year’s resolutions. For instance, “For January, no ABCs” – that is, no alcohol, biscuits and chocolate. I’m afraid I didn’t manage that. March brings the start of Lent and thus time, according to the secular soothsayers, to give up something else.

Therefore, in that gap between January and Lent, I happily indulge in a pleasure with which many of you will be familiar – watching as much rugby as possible on TV.

The Six Nations starts this week and in mid-February we welcome back Super Rugby. You have nerve-jangling jingoism on one side of the equator and high-speed abandon on the other. What a brilliant combination.

By late March, the weather in the UK is so much better that you don’t want to be in front of the TV at all. But these weeks in between are a good time to measure where the world game is at the moment. And with the aid of instant rewind, you can quickly review the skills and tactics on show.

For my part, I’ll be looking at three key areas in these high-octane upcoming clashes.

First, how do sides break down organised defences from second and third phases? Will they simply bash down the door or will they try to manipulate the defence over a couple of phases of play?

Second, will teams try to run first-phase backs moves or even back-row moves to score tries?

Finally, how will sides retain possession at the breakdown?

What will be the key factors to win quick ball? I suspect it will be the quality of the contact by the ball carrier and his ability to manipulate the ball in the placement. But that is a hypothesis I want to prove. So it’s time to pull up the armchair, turn up the volume and revel in a period of telly excess. Don’t let me stop you following my lead.

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