With the Guinness Six Nations just days away, countries have taken different approaches to preparation
Ireland are in Portugal while Scotland are in Spain, but with all the Guinness Six Nations sides taking a different approach to preparation ahead of the championship’s opening weekend, where and how are your side preparing for action?
The waiting is almost over and the rugby is only a matter of days away as one of the most hotly-anticipated championships in recent memory is set to capture the imagination.
There are new coaches, old coaches, defending champions, the word’s number one side and plenty more to get you excited about this year’s Six Nations.
However, there is more than one way to skin a cat and those in charge of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy and France have chosen different locations and methods to help get their side firing ahead of the opening weekend.
The action kicks off on Saturday 4 February with Wales hosting Ireland in the opening game at Principality Stadium from 2.15pm. England then host Scotland at Twickenham for the Calcutta Cup while France are in Rome as they begin the defence of their title against Italy on Sunday.
Where are Ireland preparing for the Six Nations?
Andy Farrell’s Men in Green are warming themselves in the sunny climes of popular Portuguese resort Quinta Do Lago.
An area world famous for its golfing facilities, Farrell’s players have been honing their rugby skills at The Campus – a venue where punters can buy places on a camp with former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll.
The resort in the Algarve region boasts a high-performance facility that has also housed top football clubs from England, including Burnley. A huge hybrid playing surface, state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool and restaurant are just some of the plush feature’s the world’s number one side can enjoy.
Related: Ireland’s Six Nations fixtures
Since the Joe Schmidt era, it has now become an annual trip for Ireland to journey over to Portugal ahead of the Six Nations. They first made the trip four years ago in 2019, having gone to Spain the previous season for their warm-weather training.
Farrell has taken a 37-man squad abroad, although uncapped Ulster hooker Tom Stewart has also been summed as cover with Ronan Kelleher monitoring a hamstring problem.
Read more: Ireland Six Nations squad
Ireland will fly straight from Portugal to Cardiff on Thursday for their opening fixture away to Wales.
Where are Scotland preparing for the Six Nations?
Gregor Townsend’s Scotland are preparing for the beginning of the 2023 Six Nations by training out in Spain. Townsend is repeating his steps from the 2020 campaign with the squad training just north of Alicante.
The head coach revealed the thought process behind that decision ahead of Saturday’s trip to Twickenham, with Scotland flying straight from Spain to London in preparation for the big one.
Townsend said: “We went there three years ago when we went from Spain straight to Dublin and played really well that day. What it gives you is an opportunity to train outside which we often don’t get at this time
“We’ve got a very good indoor training facility [at Oriam in Edinburgh] but not being able to train outside is a risk. This is the first time since then that we’ve been able to do it with the relaxation of Covid restrictions.
“We’ll fly straight from Spain to London. It gives us a really good focus, we’re together, training outdoors and we’ve got a big job to do when we get to London.”
Read more: Scotland Six Nations squad
Where are England preparing for the Six Nations?
England were initially, like Ireland, due to be enjoying a warm-weather training camp in Portugal but Eddie Jones’s departure and Steve Borthwick’s appointment put paid to that.
Related: England Six Nations squad
The new man in charge at Twickenham has put a greater emphasis on working hard at home after cancelling the Portugal trip as well as a pre-planned trip to France in one of the championship’s fallow weeks.
Instead, England are at their Pennyhill Park training base in Bagshot, Surrey while they have also spent time training at Twickenham Stadium.
Read more: England Six Nations fixtures
Where are Wales preparing for the Six Nations?
Warren Gatland has returned to Wales but something that isn’t new is that Wales to continue to base themselves at the national training centre in Hensol at The Vale Resort.
Read more: Wales Six Nations squad
The squad linked up there on 23 January ahead of their opening fixture against Ireland at Principality Stadium on Saturday.
Related: Wales Six Nations fixtures
Where are France preparing for the Six Nations?
France’s usual base is the National Centre of Rugby in Marcoussis, south of Paris. However, also wanting to have a bit of warmer weather for training, Fabien Galthié’s squad are spending a fortnight in the seaside town of Capbreton, just north of Bayonne in the south-west of the country.
Read more: France Six Nations squad
The players are staying in a hotel on the beachfront which is close to the nearby European Sports Rehabilitation Centre. Les Bleus have trained at the Capbreton Municipal Stadium.
Lyon wing Ethan Dumortier said: “The entire staff has done a lot of work to put us in the best possible conditions. The hotel is private, the Marcoussis weight room has been completely moved here.”
Related: France Six Nations fixtures
Where are Italy preparing for the Six Nations?
Italy have been training at the Payanini Center in Verona ahead of their first Six Nations clash against France in Rome.
Read more: Italy Six Nations squad
Kieran Crowley’s men are looking to carry the momentum from their win over Wales in Round 5 last year (ending a 36-game winless run) into a tough clash against the reigning Grand Slam champions.
Crowley said: “We have had a good week of work in Verona, putting the foundations in place for the 2023 Six Nations. We are taking it step-by-step: our focus now is on the present and that is France. We have faith in our abilities: we are on our path with the aim of continuing to build something important.”
Related: Italy Six Nations Fixtures
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