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This year’s Six Nations may be just three rounds deep but the title race appears done and dusted. Ireland, who beat France away from home on the opening weekend, appear well on course to capture a second consecutive Grand Slam and their fifth overall.

Sure they still have to play England at Twickenham and have to host Scotland, but they have pretty much picked up where they left off in 202’s competition by asserting their authority.

France have significantly dropped off the pace after securing the 2022 Grand Slam and running Ireland close in 2023 and look a dispirited side after hosting 2023’s Rugby World Cup (RWC). Having invested so much in hosting and attempting to win in front of their home fans the heartbreak defeat to the Springboks in a nerve-jangling quarterfinal have seemingly inflicted significant psychological scars.

Like Ireland, Scotland also have put RWC disappointment behind them. Though they remain a hugely competent and competitive outfit, they still lack the steel and depth to consistently compete with their rivals across the Irish Sea.

England are still in search of an identity under Steve Borthwick, while Wales have finally turned to their youth and are now committed to a rebuild. Italy still appear light years from winning a Six Nations crown. They did well to keep France in check last Sunday but couldn’t deliver the killer blow when it was on offer against a team a man short.

All of this has left Ireland well out in front in a competition that, though filled with drama, has lacked five-star quality.

Still, commentators and paid observers of the game north of the equator keep reminding the rest of the world that the Six Nations is the best rugby competition on the planet. What we’ve routinely seen in the Six Nations suggests otherwise.

It simply does not have the level of skill or intensity routinely on display in the Rugby Championship (RC). That the teams in the RC are able to play at such a high level despite vast demands on their travel schedule, is testament to a strong mindset and superb conditioning.

A crow would have to fly just over 12,000km to reach Johannesburg from Auckland, while almost 11,800km of pampas, Andes and Pacific Ocean separates Buenos Aires from Sydney.

There is now a reduced travel roster but it still requires SA, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina to criss-cross the southern part of the hemisphere.

The teams up north have it a lot easier. The longest trip in the Six Nations is the one between Edinburgh and Rome (1,936km).

Though players in the Six Nations should be better rested it does not necessarily translate to quality in performance on match day.

The notion that the Six Nations is a more compelling product than the RC can be contested on several fronts. What metric is used to arrive at such a conclusion? Is it tries scored, ball-in-play, fewer kicks, ruck speed, fewest handling errors and so on?

Are the contests tighter and do the matches up north serve up more drama. On that front, maybe.

There is little doubt the Six Nations is better hyped. Constantly reminding their audience that they are watching the best competition in the world emboldens a self-serving narrative.

Certainly the storylines created around the teams and players are transmitted far and wide. Those tales resonate with a receptive audience and that will be further accentuated now that the competition has hitched its wagon to a widely watched global streaming service.

What also helps is battle lines are carved in time. Well established, primal rivalries are accentuated to help fuel interest in the competition.

The equity partners that have bought into the competition have helped amplify the competition.

In time the RC will catch up on that front but for the moment it is the quality of its rugby that attracts eyeballs.

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