Six Nations Preview

Guscott (booh) and Jonathan pontificate on the BBC.
Eddie’s watching Ireland and England in the Guardian.
Me, i just read the 14 pages of rugby in the Western Mail every day..rugby nation indeed (it’s as hard to keep up with as slugger…)
What’s the tele saying? Ireland not in decline.. hmmm we’ll see.
Anyway more predictions please.
If France hadn’t got stuffed by Australia then it would be all over by now……but Scotland beat Argentina away in the summer…Wales are focussing on the World Cup…(O’Driscoll is only 32 btw)
Enjoy!

,

  • Brian Spencer

    I would think that wales will have a turnaround, scotland will do much of the same with perhaps an upset somewhere. England should improve on previous six nations outings, Italy will be Italy. France most likely to win but Ireland could do so if they pick up on some of the Leinster flair….

  • Dewi

    Brian – make a prediction please…

  • Brian Spencer

    It must be noted that indeed these are exciting times for Irish rugby….it feels not long ago that when Hickie and co. were bowing out and BOD et al. were advancing into their 30s there was a sense of impending crisis.

    Looking around with Ulster’s entrance into the quarters of the H Cup, Munster’s dip but ever present aura of strength and Leinster’s utter dominance and sparkling flair…..times they are a changing for the better. Looking a little deeper the emerging talent brings much encouragement. Considering the likes of Nevin Spence (20), Faloon (24), Whitten(24), McCallister(21), Tuohy (only 24) to name but some, who are all racking up H Cup and international experience.

    Across the border Leinster are noted as being the closest thing that the northern hemisphere has to the all blacks. Sean O’Brien (24), Dominic Ryan (21), Healy (23), Rhys Ruddock (21), ofcourse Heaslip (26) and Fitzgerald (23) to again name but a few. These are all now well established players yet still no where near their peak…..all of which are lions and potential lions including others not mentioned with leinster.

    Moreover Leinster has a superb academy which is nurturing future hope.

    With Schmidt and jonno gibbes setting the tone, Leinster and its current path towards perhaps legendary status is clear. But it is Leinster’s style and intensity that must be translated into Ireland’s game, an if that is successfull, Kidney could be looking at another grand slam.

    As for Munster, they speak much for themselves despite the first no qualify in roughly 13 years…..they should come back stronger…

  • Brian Spencer

    ireland

  • Italy -v- Ireland

    Nick Mallet is an excellent Coach. He is also very aware of his team’s limitations. Italy have their structure right for the greater good of their future but there is nobody in sight to replace Dominguez.

    With the exception of the match against New Zealand, Ireland had a respectable Autumn International series finishing on a high against Argentina.

    Ireland to win comfortably.

    Scotland -v- France

    Scotland will be hopeful of repeating their triumph against South Africa. Indeed, if France make enough mistakes, that could well happen. Unfortunately for Scotland, they do not have the fire power to withstand France at their best.

    Jonathan Davies has rightly pointed out France’s only real weakness – the half backs but they are not that bad – they are just never consistent enough. France are the Six Nations grand slam champions. They have the greatest pool of talent and yet they had a pathetic record of matches following the Six Nations last year. They looked to have sunk to their lowest depths after losing 43-13 to Argentina in the Summer. In the Autumn, after lacklustre performances against Fiji and Argentina (they won that one 15 – 9) they were then massacred by Australia 59-16.

    Yet on form, France have a record of swinging wildly from one extreme to another. That has been a phenomenon of their record as far back as I can remember. They are quite capable of coming back and playing a blinder. So which version of France will turn up?

    Unfortunately for Scotland, their motivation to make amends will see them through.

    France to win by less than 10 points.

    Wales – England

    This is the hardest of the three matches to predict. Jonathan Davies said that if Wales get parity in the scrum, they will win the match. That is quite some qualification, though.

    England’s barren period now stretches to 8 years from their glory year of 2003. They should have turned matters around before now. Key retirements, Injury, changes of management and failure to change their structure earlier have all contributed to underachievement. Martin Johnson’s record since taking over is patchy but there are now signs that he has at last gelled a team together.

    Barring the performance against South Africa, when the latter’s pack decided to get their act together after a woeful performance against Scotland, England had a rather good Autumn series – much better than that of Wales. The England forwards will also have benefitted from that South African match.

    I expect the English front row to dominate against Wales. Were it not for the injuries to England’s back row forwards, I would have confidently predicted an England win. Now, I am not quite so sure. Home advantage will be important. Warren Gatland does have a great record as a tactical coach. However, what happens up front will be crucial. The match will be close but I still think England will win at Cardiff for the first time in 8 years.

    England to sneak it.

  • thethoughtfulone

    For me one of the most beautiful things about rugby (and there are many) is it’s sheer unpredictability. The game is so intense that the final outcome can rest on one player having a poor day, getting a knock early on, a small handling error, a moment of opportunism, so many things. How many times do we see team A beating team B, team B then beating team C, yet team C may still comfortably beat team A when they meet.

    So any predictions are very likely to turn out to be complete toot no matter how great your knowledge and appreciation of the game.

    Still,

    Ireland (just)
    France
    England

  • thethoughtfulone

    In fact, as regards the Ireland – Italy game, it should probably have been a “maybe”.

    I reserve the right to possibly change my mind after I see the team!

  • Greenflag

    Ireland to win – France to swing back and make less mistakes than the Scots and win by 10 points or less- Wales to prolong England’s barren patch at the Millenium Stadium and win in a close contest.

    The prospect of an Ireland v England Championship decider at the Aviva would be too much to hope for 😉 And how will they fit 85,000 into a 50,000 seater stadium ? Maybe Bertie’s Bowl should have been built after all ?

  • iluvni

    Personally, I predict utter tedium as 3 minute long scrums continue to suck the life out of the game

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    I think Ireland have the best 15 in the tournament providing Ferris and Heaslip make it back aftr Italy.

    With France and England at home and having lost to Wales once in 25 years(ish) in Cardiff we could well finish at the top of the pile – even if we lose away to Sctoland.

  • thethoughtfulone

    Well having just seen the team I’ll stick with my original prediction as I think the Irish forwards combined with the Sexton/O’Driscoll combo at the back will be good enough to scrape past the Italians, but it may still be close.

  • Dewi

    Listen – will u all please enter the prediction contest – i’ve written an astonishing spreadsheet – at the moment, with 7 entries, i could work it out in me head..

  • Dewi
  • John D

    Dewi —

    My fairly uniformed guess: HAAHHAAADHAAHHH and 530 points. Is that all you need for your spreadsheet?

  • Dewi

    Dear God John D comment on the blasted right thread will you!! (sorry – having a bad day – the format is fine…)…530 points is daft though…

  • Dewi

    And Greenflag – i know your tactic – wait for all to predict and come up on the blindside…it’s never worked before why should it this year???

  • Dewi

    …..and Brian Spencer’s prediction is “Ireland”…Brian – read the blasted rules will you!

  • Dewi

    ….and while i’m at it – Seymour – Wales to sneak it…

  • Greenflag

    Chief Inspector Dewi ,

    ”And Greenflag – I know your tactic – wait for all to predict and come up on the blindside…’

    Guilty as charged your honour 😉 Th’oul crystal ball is so cloudy these days . I blame Biffo the b***ix 😉

  • john

    Irish Grand Slam is a cert put all your money on it

  • Dewi

    Come on Wales!!!

  • Well, Wales lost as I predicted.

    It was not a terrible performance from Wales. They did OK up front but their backs did not have that cutting edge. They missed vital kicks at the beginning and failed to make the sin-bin opportunity count.

    I was impressed by some of England’s back play – yep they are not the one-dimensional England that we are used to. Their passing was not quite as accurate as ought to be but they are looking like a well drilled outfit and Flood is now looking like a World class fly half. England look like the team to beat in this championship.

  • john

    1 PREDICTION CORRECT ONLY 14 TO GO

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    agree with your much of what you say seymour. ENgland looked decent away from home in a tough atmosphere. Wales were poor though so it’s hard to judge how good england really were.

    Certainly, their pack is well-drilled and will match anyone in the 6N and will have a scrum that could potentially destroy Scotland and Ireland, Was very impressed by their half backs and indeed, their back 3. Not sure about their centres though and whilst their pack offers grunt they lack ball skills and the off-loading game that France and maybe Ireland will offer.

    Hard to predict too much as this stage. Who knows what french side will turn up. They could be amazing or they could travel poorly as they so often do. Scotland appear to be improving but no doubt they’ll be as pish as ever. Wales are off to a stinker but have enough good players to win 2-3 games. Italy might get their annual win again at home.

    With regards to Ireland, well, you have to fancy our chances with France and England at home again. I’m not sure how the fixtures are decided but that’s 3 times (on alternativeyears) that’s happened. It really is a massive advantage and puts us in the driving seat.

    However, we were pish in the autumn and with injuries at hooker, backrow and back 3, you have to be a tad concerned. A lot depends on how Mike ross gets on today in the frontrow. We need a functioning scrum to go into the French game with so it will be very interesting to see how he and healy get on in Italy. Question marks hang over scrum half – I ain’t a fan of TOL and the back 3 are an unkown unit.

    I think we’ll struggle for parts this avo but run out by 15-20 points. The french game next week could well decide the 6N. Too close to call – heart say 5 point win, brain says 5 point defeat. The remaining matches could well depend on the french game. If we win against france then we’ll be on top form and could get a grand slam. Lose against france, and I could see us lose away to either scotland or wales. And england at home will certainly be a tough game on last nights form.
    Final table
    France
    England
    Ireland
    Wales
    Scotland
    Italy

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    the future’s bright, the future’s orange (profile)

    I think Ireland have the best 15 in the tounament(with Ferris and Heaslip – though France have the best squad.

    Ireland are regulalry less than the sum of their parts.

    I seem to remember we had a bet 2 years when the fixtures were the same – I went for Ireland and you went for France – and you subsequently disappeared without confirming you had paid Slugger the £10 when Ireland won the Grand Slam.

    Dewi,
    As usual Wazaa (Gatland) has put himself and his team under further unnecessary pressure and the Torygraph is now soundly on his case. – see below

    With Wales having only 1 home game left they may find themselves staring into a world cup with only one win (against Italy) in about 17(?) games.

    The love affair between the Welsh Head Coach and the Welsh public who simply loved hearing that they were world beaters may be coming to an overdue end – they really need someone, ideally Welsh, who will remind them that they will have to work their arses off if they want to punch beyond their weight.

    The other problem for Wazza is that he has so overused the – we are rebuilding line – that now when it is actually true ( only 1 member of the Welsh pack was over 30) and they have some outstanding players coming through –Bradley Davies, Warburton, Jonathan Davies he cant use it any more without inviting public ridicule.

    Even Shaun Edwards, who doesn’t put a foot wrong in public relations terms and sounds grounded and realistic must be likely to attract some criticism for the inclusion of Powell who plays for his team Wasps.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/wales/8304053/Wales-v-England-Wales-coach-Warren-Gatland-in-contrite-mood-as-he-praises-Dylan-Hartleys-competitive-display.html#

  • Greenflag

    Now that was a close shave . Italians almost made it . They should have closed the game down when a point ahead with 3 minutes on the clock .

    Pheeeeeeeew 🙂

  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Italy deserved to win – handling by the Leinster backs and particulalry Darcy almost cost Ireland the game. Almost cheering for Italy by the end.

    Disappointed with O’Brien – but Parisse was outstanding as usual.

    Without Heaslip, Ferris, Bowe, Kearney and Flannery probably need France to have an off day.

    C’mon Scotland.

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    Not sure if Italy deserved to win. Ireland butchered,a nd I do mean butchered 2-3 tries. Italy were as limited as usual yet put us under a reasonable amount of pressure. Scrum is still a concern and if watched the French game, then you’d be very very worried about the set-piece next weekend.
    Equally worrying, were the performances from BOD and Darse#y. Horrific.

    France looked delightful but then who knows how they’ll perform next week. If Scotland can beat wales next weekend then they could have a decent championship.

    6 fairly even sides this weekend. France and to a lesser degree England impressed. Scotland and Italy get marks for effort whilst Ireland and Wales must and will do better.

  • I wont be around tomorrow to make a prediction on the weekend’s games. What I believe will happen goes against my original forecast for Dewi’s competition. Ah well, here is what I think will happen over the weekend.

    England v Italy

    Italy came as close as they ever will to a famous win last Saturday but a closer review of that match indicates that Ireland would have won comfortably had put away a few chances. Italy should find it harder travelling away from home whilst England will be confident of increasing their momentum.

    England to win comfortably.

    Scotland v Wales

    Wales would have been very disappointed at losing to England at home but they did not play that badly. Despite losing, I was of the impression that they are past their trough of bad form. Wales will find Scotland very tough on their own ground. I notice that other punters are going for Scotland. My hunch is that Wales will finally pull a rabbit out of the had.

    Wales to win very narrowly.

    Ireland v France

    The outcome depends very much on whether France continue to play with wonderful skill as they did against Scotland. Ireland are not without some aces but if France retain their form, they will be very difficult to stop. I expect Ireland to put in a decent performance but France to be too good for them. As with the Scotland-Wales match, I am changing my original prediction.

    France to win by less than 10 points.