Welcome back to the PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge!
After what seemed like an interminable wait, a casual glance at the table sees joint leaders in ex-French Captain and Rugby World Cup Head Coach Philippe and our Head of Operations Neil. Can the ‘simple, amateur, beer drinking fan’ Neil really put one over Philippe, not to mention Johne and Johan, who trail in the wooden spoon placings?
As a reminder to anyone who missed last week’s antics, the PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge rules are simple. Each expert (and Neil) needed to give us a simple match summary plus a winner prediction and winning margin (if a draw was predicted, they needed to predict the total match points). It is 5 points for a correct result prediction and 5 points for a correct winning margin/total draw match points total.
The expert with the most points at the end of the tournament is crowned the PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge ‘King of the Picks’, whilst the person finishing last gets to do a public PSA Academies 6 Nations Predictions Challenge forfeit at the Sport Meets Adventure Charity Fundraising Dinner in Finborough School on Saturday 1st April (no prizes for guessing who we want to be on the stage that night!).
Saturday 25 February – Scotland v Wales, 1425hrs kick off
Johan – This one is all about the Welsh, who were cruelly mugged by lucky England in Cardiff. They’ll want to make a statement against the Scots, who will be weaker without captain Laidlaw. Wales have too much size, power and finishing ability to be thwarted, so fancy a relatively snug win in the end.
Prediction – Wales to win by 10 points
Johne Murphy (@MurphyJohne) – after arguably doing enough to nick it in Paris, Scotland are back on home turf and with a sniff of Triple Crown glory in the air, they’ll be at their furious, combative best/worst against a Wales side that lost a morale sapping spilt decision late on in the slugfest against England. The Tartan Army to roll on, just.
Prediction – Scotland to win by 3 points
Philippe Saint-André (@PSaintAndre) – A great test of Scotland after their defeat in Paris and they will be a tough nut to crack for Wales. The Welsh have size, strength and the better kicking game, which should be enough to edge it.
Prediction – Wales to win by 5 points
Neil Marchant (@NeilMarchant2) – Without Laidlaw giving direction and calling the shots, and even with the vocal Murrayfield crowd behind them, the Triple Crown dreams end here for Vern Cotter’s team. Scotland will keep attacking bravely but a streetwise, gritty Wales will hold out.
Prediction – Wales to win by 3 points
Saturday 25 February – Ireland v France, 1650hrs kick off
Johan Taylor – It is close but surely Ireland will have too much game smarts for a French side only building. Good chance that the French will try to bully a smaller Irish side but that will be the trap and Joe Schmidt’s side will edge the penalties, set piece and try count.
Prediction – Ireland to win by 5 points
Johne Murphy – Ireland are back on track after a canter in against Italy but the French are thoroughbreds on a winning run, so it could come down to a photo finish in the Aviva!
Prediction – Ireland to win by 2 points
Philippe Saint-André – this one is too tight to call. The French will present a hugely physical challenge for Ireland, especially a returning Johnny Sexton, who won’t enjoy seeing Mathieu Bastareaud coming off the bench in the 2nd half. Ireland were impressive against Italy but they will need to step up again for a big clash.
Prediction – Draw, 23-23
Neil Marchant – I’m actually quite bullish about the Irish here. Back at home, with Sexton in the cockpit and on the back of a high scoring result in Italy. What could possibly go wrong? Ireland to squash the French flair, in preparation for the visit of the Grand Slam winners elect!
Prediction – Ireland to win by 11 points
Sunday 26 February – England v Italy, 1500hrs kick off
Johan – Boring Boring England. Expect lots of chariots, easy scores and camera angles of scoffing English fans. Poor Conor O’Shea. England by a landslide.
Prediction – England to win by 65 points
Johne – It’s not a question of whether but rather how many. Conor O’Shea to be daydreaming about Harlequins down the road as Hartley and Co. smash them to bits in a 2nd half onslaught. Nice and cocky, just the way we like them travelling to Dublin!
Prediction – England to win by 56 points
Philippe – expect some early Italy resistance, the usual penalty count as the game goes on and England pulling away in the second half. Too easy in the end for Eddie Jones and his team, as the Twickenham crowds cheer.
Prediction – England to win by 48 points
Neil – England at home; the winning machine will roll on. Vunipola is back and fresh, Farrell is back running at Fly Half this week (and wanting the Lion’s Captaincy!). Conor O’Shea is going to have plenty to go through on the video on Monday AM.
Prediction – England to win by 58 points
Best of luck to all involved in the 6 Nations Predictions Challenge and enjoy the rugby wherever you are this weekend.