WITH THE BRITISH and Irish Lions touring New Zealand in 2017, there is more excitement than ever surrounding this year’s RBS Six Nations, according to Clwb Rygbi Rhyngwladol commentator Gareth Charles.
S4C is the only broadcaster showing every Wales match in the RBS Six Nations this year, and the experienced commentator is a key member of the presentation team. Gareth, who comes from Pont-Henri in the Gwendraeth Valley, will be accompanied by former Wales captain Gwyn Jones in the commentary box, while former international players Shane Williams, Andrew Coombs, Dafydd Jones, Nicky Robinson and Deiniol Jones will join presenter Gareth Rhys Owen during the Championship.
S4C will also be showing two of Wales Under 20s’ matches live, as well as the women’s team match against Ireland. Highlights of the women’s team matches will also be shown on Clwb2 on Sunday nights.
With the Six Nations fast approaching, S4C recently caught up with Gareth to get his take on this year’s competition.
S4C: “With Gatland away with the Lions, Rob Howley taking his place and Alun-Wyn Jones taking over the captaincy from Sam Warburton, the Wales team is going through a transitional period. How will this affect them in the RBS Six Nations?”
Gareth Charles: “There’s a lot of pressure on Wales and Rob Howley to change to a more open style of rugby. With Wales playing against Italy in the first game and with bonus points being introduced this year, there’s pressure to get off to a good start – even though, traditionally, Wales start slowly every year.”
S4C: “Who are the favourites to win this year?”
GC: “I’d say England. The progress they’ve made under Eddie Jones is phenomenal. They play good rugby and they have so much depth. But Ireland aren’t far behind after their historic recent win over the All Blacks, so they will certainly be a threat to England.”
S4C: “Which players are you looking forward to seeing this year?”
GC: “For Wales, Taulupe Faletau, on his day, is certainly one of the best players in the world. England have Maro Itoje in the second row and Jonathan Joseph in centre, who always creates problems for Wales. Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg always have a big influence for Scotland too. It’s a Lions’ year, so I think that will bring out the best in everyone.”
S4C: “Considering all these new factors – the Lions and bonus points – how much are you looking forward to this year’s competition?”
GC: “ I’m looking forward to this year’s Six Nations more than usual. I’m looking forward to the women’s competition and seeing how they get on at their new home, Cardiff Arms Park, and I will be commentating on their match against Ireland. I’ll also be commentating on the Under 20s matches, and there is always a good atmosphere at Eirias Park for those games. Although I have to say that I’m also looking forward to following the men’s team to Rome and Paris.”
S4C: “Which Five Nations or Six Nations memories stand out in your mind?”
GC: “Obviously the match when Scott Gibbs scored that unforgettable try in Wembley will stay with me forever. The game where we put 30 points on England in Cardiff, in 2013, was also a fantastic occasion. It seems that victories over England are the ones that stand out the most. Of course, the other match I remember fondly is the win against Ireland which secured the Grand Slam in Cardiff, in 2005, under Mike Ruddock. I’d never seen such crowds of people in the city and it was a brilliant day.”