Finally, the Six Nations has arrived, it’s time to make some Six Nations Week 1 predictions.
And for this Kiwi who has generally been disinterested and bored with the Six Nations (and northern hemisphere rugby in general), I’m truly excited about this year’s competition. At last, these teams are playing a brand of rugby to make the All Blacks and Australia really take notice.
England are playing almost unbeatable rugby; Scotland are unleashing their backline and playing with flair; Ireland are playing in a way that has thrust them into the top 3 in the world; Wales are quietly scheming away and are due to show everyone what they’ve been working on behind closed doors; the French will be unpredictable with a young and inexperienced squad; and Italy are rapidly developing under impressive Irish coach Conor O’Shea.
But let’s consider for a second how every 23 stacks up for this weekend and make some Six Nations Week 1 predictions based purely on player heights, weights and caps. Check out the tall backs heavy forwards theory here to see the theory behind this.
Six Nations Week 1 predictions
Wales vs Scotland
Possibly the game of the round. From a height, weight and test experience point of view, these 2 teams are virtually inseparable. The only advantages come when you consider the positions individually. Generally speaking, the Welsh, as expected, have an advantage in the forwards in terms of weight and caps, although Scotland is taller in the forwards. Scotland have the advantage in the backs in terms of weight and caps, however, Wales have the height advantage, which I consider to be an important deciding metric.
I think, given the relative equality of both squads, Wales will try to play to their matchday strategy, possibly to take advantage of their bigger, more experienced forwards and keep it in tight, play a “Warrenball” style and kick for the corners (trying hard to avoid Stuart Hogg’s counter-attacking abilities). Overall, I give Wales a slight advantage as they’re playing in Cardiff and their record over Scotland at home in Wales is remarkable.
Result: A close game, but Wales should take this in the end (perhaps through the boot of Halfpenny). Score: 24-22
France vs Ireland
Contrary to what many people believe, I think this game will be a walkover and here’s why.
If we only consider weight, height and caps of players then based on the 2 match day squads announced, Ireland will win this in a canter in what I think will be the biggest score of the round (perhaps 50 plus, a margin of 25-40). Ireland have a 4kg per player weight advantage over the French and they’re also 2cm taller on average throughout the entire team. The French have selected a squad of, generally speaking, young, inexperienced players, but also, on the whole, relatively light and short. In fact, if you only consider the starting 15s, Ireland have a 5kg per player and a more than 25 caps per player advantage over the French.
— Sandro Pertica (@sandropertica) February 2, 2018
Now, if Ireland somehow loses this game (or it’s far closer than I’m anticipating) it will be due to the brilliance of some of these relatively unknown, uncapped French players and the strategy that they’ve created to avoid the Irish size. What the French lack in experience they possibly make up for in unpredictability. I expect the French to really try to up the tempo, create fast ball and possibly take a more skilful approach. This will most likely suit the Irish just fine, as they will feed off the French mistakes.
The problem with this is that I don’t expect this to pay-off immediately for France. Ireland will run away with this game, due to a large error count from the French and the huge power of the Irish territorial attacking style. In other words, kick to the corner, put France under physical pressure, take possession and barge over.
Result: As mentioned above, a cake walk for Ireland. Score: 15 – 50
Italy vs England
Most people would assume that England will destroy Italy here, and realistically there’s a good chance of that happening. However, while I think England will win easily, in the end, the Italians won’t be push-overs. They will likely score at least 1 try. You see, the Italians actually have an alright team. From a match-day squad perspective, they have the 3rd most experienced 23 after England and Ireland this weekend. And of all the back lines named this weekend, they have the tallest.
But that’s where it ends.
The English have named a vastly experienced team (the most experienced 23 this weekend).
#ITAvENG | Your England squad for Sunday's clash against Italy in Rome ?
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 2, 2018
They also have a 3kg per player weight advantage over the Italians. Despite Italy’s slight overall height advantage and home-field advantage, England will win this as expected.
Result: Italy to give England a fright. But England to pull away in the second half for a comfortable win in the end. Score: Somewhere in the realms of 10 – 30.
So there you have it, Six Nations Round 1 predictions based solely on height, weight and test experience.
If you think I’m forgetting something important or you disagree, please let me know in the comments.
Author: Steven Cartwright
I grew up in Taranaki and was introduced to rugby at 8 years old, and have been playing ever since. I went to school at FDMC in New Plymouth. After graduating from Canterbury University I moved with my fiancee to Brazil where I’ve been playing/coaching rugby, working and partaking in the odd caipirinha.