So, the PSA Academies team are dusting off their predictions thinking caps and are back with a bang for the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations Predictions Challenge. And to make things interesting all the core PSA Academies team are involved in this year’s competition, meaning even more office slagging and general sledging of rugby knowledge.
First the line up;
Johan Taylor (2017 Challenge Position – 1st) – current ‘King of the Picks’ after topping the pile in the 2017 Challenge. South African Johan puts his insomnia and penchant for Diet Coke to excellent use by crunching the 6 Nations data long into the night to get all the right answers (or at least semi right). This laidback character will be hard to beat again.
Philippe Saint-Andre (2017 Challenge Position – 2nd) – The main man got close last year but just got headed by Johan on the last day. Cursed by a loyalty to his beloved France, Philippe is a shrewd judge of 6 Nations form. Almost definitely the only PSA Academies team member who will appear as a pundit on BBC during this year’s tournament, he has probably earned that respect we mostly show him!
Johne Murphy (2017 Challenge Position – 3rd) – Newstalk’s star co-commentator, Johne slide down the ladder on the last day of the 2017 Challenge. One year older, distracted by new twins, still getting knocked around on the rugby pitch with Naas RFC, busy coaching and a new racing syndicate manager, Johne must be long odds on to finish last this year!
Neil Marchant (2017 Challenge Position – Last) – a harsh lesson for the ‘simple beer drinking rugby fan’ last year, when his English Rugby obsession saw him go from last to first like a Brexit straw poll. Old dogs don’t generally learn new tricks and this British Bulldog is destined to trip himself up in Edinburgh if not on St Patricks Day!
Cory Brown (2017 Challenge Position – did not compete) – this cocky Kiwi always has an opinion about his rugby but what will he make of a tournament where real rugby actually gets played. Can he figure things out without all those silly Super Rugby forward passes, offsides and basketball passes? And has he covered from the summer yet, allowing him to park his Lions bitterness? It remains to be seen.
Ian Lewis (2017 Challenge Position – did not compete) – a closet Ireland fan, can the canny founder park his English allegiances to show his staff that he knows his a*se from his elbow? Still hasn’t responded to the WhatsApp asking for his week 1 predictions so his commitment is already looking questionable as he focuses on his next nutjob challenge in the Arctic Tundra at the end of February.
Graham Ross (2017 Challenge Position – did not compete) – a real dark horse and probably early favourite to win the 2018 Challenge. Hugely knowledgeable rugby brain, he’ll have the advantage of seeing everyone elses picks and being able to pick his way through the chaff. Looks forward to finally having his rugby pedigree acknowledged by the coaching group!
Next, the 2018 6 Nations Predictions Challenge rules are simple. Each competitor needs to give us a simple match summary plus a winner prediction and winning margin (if a draw was predicted, they need 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 6 Nations Predictions Challenge ‘King of the Picks’, whilst the person finishing last needs to make a public donation (amount TBC) to our 2018 Charity partner Unicef Ireland at our upcoming Unicef Ireland Charity Rugby Clinics in Ireland in April.
Saturday 3 February – Wales v Scotland, 1415hrs kick off
Johan Taylor – Welsh home advantage to edge Scottish over confidence
Prediction – Wales by 7 points
Johne Murphy (@MurphyJohne) – Scots to hit the ground and the Welsh running. First upset of the weekend.
Prediction – Scotland by 4 points
Philippe Saint-André (@PSaintAndre) – Wales, with Scarlets flair, to edge injury-weakened Scotland
Prediction – Wales by 2 points
Neil Marchant (@NeilMarchant2) – Scotland too much game for ordinary Welsh
Prediction – Scotland by 4 points
Cory Brown – Battle of penalties v Tries. Unlike Super Rugby, penos will win. Prediction – Wales by 3 points
Ian Lewis (@Lewi_xplore) – Prediction to follow
Graham Ross (@GrahamRoss76) – who needs this more? Scottish front row injuries will be ruthlessly tested & the Welsh defence is taken to hold. Prediction – Wales by 4 points
Saturday 3 February – France v Ireland, 1645hrs kick off
Johan – French squad and coaching ticket not settled enough to really test Ireland
Prediction – Ireland by 7 points
Johne – French will give flair a good go in cracking atmosphere but just wont have enough control to win
Prediction – Ireland by 3 points
Philippe (watch out for him on BBC coverage!) – France to play well with passion and energy, suffocating Ireland who will be rusty first match in. Great start for Les Bleus
Prediction – France by 1 point
Neil – Unknown French rookies to drive flair performance to chin Ireland caught cold like 2017
Prediction – France by 3 points
Cory Brown – Inexperienced France start slow and Ireland turn screw on rookies, who only start to play when too late Prediction – Ireland by 5 points
Ian Lewis – Prediction to follow
Graham Ross – It’s time for Ireland to stand up and justify top 3 IRB ranking. Sexton-inspired performance to build lead & punish French indiscipline and inexperience Prediction – Ireland by 10 points
Sunday 4 February – Italy v England, 1500hrs kick off
Johan – There’ll be no ruck tricks that will save Italy this time. England to find their wheels in 2nd half
Prediction – England by 31 points
Johne – Italy WILL have more tricks to play and will frustrate the English machine. Pressure to build on Eddie Jones after scrappy win
Prediction – England by 9 points
Philippe – Italy v well coached and passionate but squad still not strong enough to trouble England after tight first half
Prediction – England by 12 points
Neil – Training game on a Sunday in Rome. Easy win in the end, before bigger challenges ahead
Prediction – England by 20 points
Cory Brown – Expect England to blow out in last quarter after making hard work out of the previous 60 minutes Prediction – England by 15 points
Ian Lewis – Prediction to follow
Graham Ross – Opening game away to smartly coached passionate Italy will test an out of form England more than people expect. Eddie Jones to get out of jail late on! Prediction – England by 5 points
Best of luck to all involved in the 2018 6 Nations Predictions Challenge and enjoy the rugby wherever you are this weekend.