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‘Battle hardened’ England have advantage heading into Six Nations says Dai Young

Young’s Cardiff have not played a league game since October 23 and he admits: “There’s no continuity, no momentum. It’s very difficult to plan”

Manu Tuilagi scores against South Africa during England’s unbeaten autumn

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Dai Young says England holds a clear advantage over the other home countries heading towards the Six Nations.

Coronavirus has caused significant disruption to the United Rugby Championship, in which players from Wales, Scotland and Ireland play.

Twenty two matches in the URC have been lost to Covid, compared to just two in the Premiership, from where Eddie Jones picks his team.

“England does have an advantage at the minute, you can’t hide behind that fact,” said Young, whose Cardiff team last played a league game on October 23.

“They’re playing week in week out whereas a lot of our players haven’t played for a long time.

“There’s no continuity, no momentum and it’s very difficult to plan. None of us know what’s round the corner.

Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young
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“The English boys will certainly be in a much better place, far more battle-hardened than our players.”

England’s rivals are further hampered by restrictions which, as things stand, mean champions Wales must play behind closed doors, Scotland in front of a maximum 500 fans, whilst attendances in France and Ireland are capped at 5,000.

The tournament starts in 29 days with no certainty at all as to what it will look like.

England head coach Eddie Jones
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Organisers are not planning an update before January 17, the date restrictions in Scotland are due to expire.

Scottish rugby chiefs are adamant their opening game against England on February 5 will be played at Murrayfield. How many will be allowed in to watch is another matter.

On the same day Ireland are due to host Wales in Dublin, a game for which thousands of travelling fans have bought of tickets.

England capped an unbeaten autumn by beating world champions South Africa
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Adam Davy/PA Wire)

Unless the Irish government alters its 5,000 crowd limit there are going to be a lot of unhappy punters.

“We have no further information at this stage other than what the government has already put out,” said a spokesman for the Irish Rugby Union.

“It is a pretty tricky time for everyone, but there is little we can do until we get further clarification from the government.”

The Welsh Rugby Union faces losing millions if it is forced to play some or all of their three home matches in an empty Principality Stadium.

Wales’ health minister Eluned Morgan says there would be “an understanding from the Welsh Government that we would have to step in and support them financially if they did have to postpone those matches or to cancel them in some way”.

Young will not be alone in crossing his fingers when First Minister Mark Drakeford announces the next review of Covid restrictions today.

“The most important thing for us is that hopefully we’ll have crowds at the stadium,” said Young. “It is a formidable place to come and play if you’ve got that crowd behind you.

“So hopefully things will change as I believe a packed house is as good as nine points for the players.”




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