We celebrate the tribalism of this tournament

It all comes from a place of affection, right? 

Every year the Six Nations opens up a Pandora’s Box of sledging and stereotypes. And to be honest, at times it feels like the fuel for this old tournament. 

Related: How to watch the Six Nations wherever you are

Yes, we can look at the Six Nations Table – or even historic results going back through every result since it’s been six, or beyond that to previous iterations of the championship – for a sense of worth. But that is a fragile thing in itself, and then we introduce the slings and arrows. 

There’s a reason why that ‘cancelled’ promo for the event from a few years back, when fans from all over highlight England as the team they want to take down, resurfaces every year. There’s a reason why certain songs get sung. There’s a reason why we all take part in the collective masochism of picking Six Nations fantasy teams or trawling message boards, go looking for the replies under team selection graphics, or talk to any other human beings at work. 

There’s something beautiful about the sports-loving subsection of our species knowing something is going to make us wince, and doing it anyway. That’s the Six Nations, baby. 

And for all the silliness – and we know it’s silly – we get wrapped up in it. 

Read more: England Six Nations squad

Look at the reaction anywhere online to the perennial straw man of “Scotland think they will win a Grand Slam.” Of course no Scot you actually know has said this out loud. Good luck finding a presser when a player has said this will surely happen this year. But the fact we are all talking about it – silly, silly us – is inevitable. 

Of course any team you put in front of a camera and ask, ‘Can you win?’ is going to say yes, yes we can. Which fool is saying to the world and their own team, ‘No chance here lads. We’re just lucky to be invited back’?

Related: Six Nations fixtures

Beautiful agony of supporting Six Nations rugby

But the ‘A’ word… It’s the deadliest weapon for fans and pundits at this time of year. Impossible to prove and endlessly appealing to throw around. Your lot are arrogant, we say, safe in the knowledge that we alone are the doomsayers and worried all the time about our chances. 

Now, in playing terms, there will inevitably be tensions and drivers we cannot guess at. The slight by one of the opposition or their mates some time ago, that gets amplified massively ahead of a Test run-in. Traditional rivalries. Perceptions not exactly shot down ahead of games.

If, for example, you are one of the far superior teams in the competition, who on paper have all the playing resources and heft of recent history to favour you handily dispatching your next opponent, you still need to get in the right headspace to go and teach them a lesson. Amongst all the actual rugby stuff, the straw man of them getting big for their boots will help a little, you’d hazard. 

Related: Why is Owen Farrell not playing for England in the Six Nations?

On the other side of that coin, it’s why the results that go against form and logic hit so hard. You lot refuse to talk about us with any depth of knowledge and we beat you at home with these lads you can’t name? Double win. And everyone else buzzes off it. 

There has to be a German word for that feeling of happiness you get from watching one team you don’t support getting an unexpected result over another team you don’t support…

And afterwards, in pubs, online, and at the water cooler, we’ll all rib each other. But we’re drawn together to talk about it. Hell, we seek each other out to do so. Just remember not to cross the line. 

So whatever is winding you up in the public sphere ahead of the next round of strapping in for supporting Six Nations sides, embrace it. Life would be dull as hell if we all agreed and we didn’t have you lot up next, you arrogant so-and-sos…

Let us know what you think about supporting Six Nations sides via rugbyworldletters@futurenet.com or social media

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