Ireland tipped for Six Nations title - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ireland tipped for Six Nations title

04/01/2010 07:50:50 AM Comments (0)

Scottish rugby legend Ian McGeechan admitted on Sunday receiving a knighthood in the New Years Honours list had been a humbling experience.

The 63-year-old Grand Slam winning coach - who also won three Test series with the British and Irish Lions as a player and coach - picked out Ireland to defend their Six Nations title when it gets under way early in February.

McGeechan, who guided Scotland to the 1990 Five Nations Grand Slam, said that to receive such an honour had been extraordinary.

"It was fantastic news. Its been quite an exciting and humbling time," he told BBC radio.

McGeechan said he saw no other side apart from the Irish - who went unbeaten throughout 2009 rounding it off with a win over world champions South Africa - winning the Six Nations.

"They're settled they're confident and they've got some talented players - they look a very competent side. I thought they did well in the autumn," said McGeechan.

McGeechan said he could sympathise with the travails of England coach Martin Johnson, who has struggled to convince critics that he can be as successful a coach as he was as a player.

"It was unfortunate for Martin that there were so many injuries in the autumn," said McGeechan, who added he had identified some progress at last year's Six Nations.

"He hasn't been able to develop and build - he's had some of his key players missing.

"It's always difficult then when you're trying to draw things together and introduce not just one or two new players sometimes but five, six, seven new players at international level."

McGeechan, who featured in seven British and Irish Lions tours, including five as a coach and two as a player, picked out his most memorable moments from his glittering career.

"Obviously as a player getting your first international cap for Scotland (1972) and obviously the Lions in 1974 as a player and then having the opportunity to coach Scotland," said McGeechan, who has also coached Northampton at club level and was director of rugby at Wasps.

"Later, winning the Grand Slam in 1990 again was something which was exceptional and winning the Lions Test series in '89 and '97," added the former teacher.

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