Sexton relishing return of supporters in Six Nations; Meat Loaf’s love of baseball

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The 2022 Six Nations was launched on Wednesday. Photograph: Inpho/Six Nations

The 2022 Six Nations was launched on Wednesday. Photograph: Inpho/Six Nations

The 2022 Six Nations is just over a week away, with Ireland beginning their campaign at home against defending champions Wales on February 5th. And at yesterday’s tournament launch, Irish captain Johnny Sexton has admitted there is no love lost between the two sides ahead of their opener at the Aviva Stadium. He said: “Yeah, it’s a big rivalry, isn’t it? Over the years they haven’t been shy in saying that, that they’re not mad about the Irish. So I think big rivalries make for unpredictable fixtures. We’re coming up against the champions, coming up against a team that beat us last year, and we want to do something in this championship.” Ireland bookend this year’s Six Nations with home games against the Welsh and Scotland, providing a rare chance to be crowned champions on home soil - potentially for the first time since 1985. And Sexton believes the return of supporters in this year’s tournament will be a big boost for his side: “To have them back part of it is a huge part of why you play the game.” Meanwhile England’s Six Nations preparations have been going far from smoothly, with Eddie Jones yesterday confirming captain Owen Farrell will miss the entire Championship with an ankle injury he sustained during Saracens training.

It has been a week since the death of Meat Loaf, and in this morning’s America at Large column Dave Hannigan has looked at the singer’s love of sport - particularly baseball - which also saw him become a celebrity fan of. . . Hartlepool United. He writes: “Meat Loaf’s own life was so utterly intertwined with sport that on a tour of England one time, he decided to adopt a soccer club to support and happened upon Hartlepool United. Born Marvin Lee Aday, his father called him “Meat” from a young age due to his immense bulk and “Loaf” was appended to the moniker in his early teens, after he trod on a football coach’s foot at Cary Middle School in Dallas, Texas.”

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