THE TABLE AFTER ROUND THREE –
ROUND FOUR PREDICTIONS –
IRELAND v SCOTLAND
- Tony Stanger: Scotland win by 3
“I’m under no illusions but let’s keep positive.”
- Tom English: Ireland win by 8
“Too well-drilled, too few flaws for Scotland to exploit.”
- Craig Gossman: Scotland win by 5
“I’m going to back Scotland to banish the away form and pull of a result that stands them in contention for title.”
- Simon Taylor: Scotland win by 13
- Phil Smith: Scotland win by 4
“I was delighted to take the hit of points to see Scotland beat English two weeks ago. Although I did say that if we were winning after 30 minutes, we would win. This weekend is no easier playing heart vs head. I feel the key lies in the half back battle.”
- Rory Baldwin: Scotland win by 2
- Viki Mendelssohn: Ireland win by 9
“Irish are looking very dominant up front, home turf etc. Last match I predicted a Scotland loss so will stick with this in the hope am proved wrong again!”
- Peter Wright: Ireland win by 10
“Home advantage, going for the Grand Slam and they just know how to win.”
- Stuart Bathgate: Ireland win by 8
“A close contest, but home advantage and greater experience of tight games will edge it.”
- David Barnes: Ireland win by 10
“I’m an incurable pessimist. ”
- Dougie Vipond: Ireland win by 12
- Angus Vipond: Scotland win by 10
“Scotland’s hype could continue against this Ireland side. Playing away at the Aviva is going to be tough for us though.”
- Barry Thomson: Scotland win by 2
“Still riding the chariot of Euphoria from the Calcutta Cup.”
- Andrew Slorance: Ireland win by 6
“Going with the head again this week even though it let me down on Calcutta Cup weekend. It won’t be through lack of effort, but Ireland to use home advantage to full effect.”
- Martin Cooper: Scotland win by 3
“Scotland have the momentum and Ireland might underestimate them.”
FRANCE v ENGLAND
- Tony Stanger: France win by 7
“The breakdown will be key again and I think France are better .”
- Tom English: England win by 9
“Surely there’s a backlash coming from the visitors after their humbling at Murrayfield. England by nine.
- Craig Gossman: England win by 10
“Back to winning ways for England after a comprehensive loss to Scotland last week.”
- Simon Taylor: France win by 9
“They’re not as bad as everyone makes out.”
- Phil Smith: France win by 7
“I see this as a massive challenge for England as people seem to be writing off France without recognising that they were an unbelievable drop-goal away from beating Ireland. France will match them physically and with the backing of the home support will win.
- Rory Baldwin: England win by 8
“Away wins are hard to come by but England have a much stronger looking team out and France still look rudderless..”
- Viki Mendelssohn: England win by 12
“England have a big point to prove after Calcutta Cup defeat and will be up for the fight this weekend.”
- Peter Wright: England win by 8
“More organised and with a better team out than last week with Anthony Watson at full-back and Jamie George at hooker.”
- Stuart Bathgate: England win by 8
“Can’t see France having the game plan to emulate Scotland.”
- David Barnes: England win by 12
“A stronger starting team and a point to prove.”
- Dougie Vipond: England win by 18
“Le Crunch is always much anticipated, especially by England as they have dominated recent encounters. France have been poor all championship, England were poor at Murrayfield but Eddie Jones won’t let that happen again.”
- Angus Vipond: England win by 18
“This English side will bounce back well this week I feel, if Jones’ side goes down again then I would be very surprised.”
- Barry Thomson: England win by 10
“England far more disciplined and will be stung by last game.”
- Andrew Slorance: France win by 8
“Sod that head thing, going with the heart here. England chase Grand Slams not titles, so Scotland ending that dream may have dented their confidence enough for France to take advantage..”
- Martin Cooper: England win by 7
“England because they will be hurting from last week but won’t run away with it as the French have a point to prove, too.”
WALES v ITALY
- Tony Stanger: Wales by 23
“Only one winner.”
- Tom English: Wales win by 36
Fear the worst for the Italians in Cardiff.”
- Craig Gossman: Wales win by 25
“Changes for wales but can’t see the result being affected, especially at home.”
- Simon Taylor: Wales win by 4
“Italy are due their one half decent result of the tournament. And would prefer it is this week and not next.”
- Phil Smith: Wales win by 29
“This should be easy.’
- Rory Baldwin: Wales win by 17
- Viki Mendelssohn: Wales to win by 35
“Italy will be in the match the first 20mins then fully expect the Welsh to take control and run riot”
- Peter Wright: Wales win by 20
“The new players in the Wales team will want to make their mark and the retained players will want to make up for last week’s result against Ireland, so motivation won’t be a problem.”
- Stuart Bathgate: Wales in by 32
“One-sided, perhaps embarrassingly so.”
- David Barnes: Wales by 2
“Gatland has set his team up to be shot at with so many changes and Italy will view this as their big chance to make a point – but, ultimately, won’t have quite enough fire-power.”
- Dougie Vipond: Wales win by 28
“Warren Gatland has made 10 changes for this one, a good oportunity to try new options as Italy will pose very little threat at The Principality Stadium”
- Angus Vipond: Wales win by 25
“Wales shouldn’t have any issues against the Italians. Easy win.”
- Barry Thomson: Wales win by 22
“Wales just too good!”
- Andrew Slorance: Wales win by 32
“Italians will probably keep it relatively tight in first half, but Wales to cut loose and their backs to run in tries from all parts of the paddock..”
- Martin Cooper: Wales win by 15
THE CONTENDERS –
Tony Stanger is a former Scotland international and (before fellow Hawick man Stuart Hogg overtakes him!) is still Scotland’s joint top try scorer of all time. He now runs his own consultancy business helping leaders become outstanding coaches. Passionate about sport and the factors that impact performance, he has written a book for parents to help them better understand their role in helping their kids reach their sporting potential. Hoping to be above average in predicting rugby matches!
Tom English is chief sports writer for BBC Scotland and, as a journalist, has been getting his Five/Six Nations predictions laughably wrong for the last 22 years. He has written The Grudge, the story of the 1990 Grand Slam, and No Borders, an oral history of the Irish rugby team. He’s also co-written, with Peter Burns, When Lions Roared, the tale of the famous 1971 Lions tour of New Zealand.
Craig Gossman plays on the wing for current BT Premiership champions Ayr and is a member of the Scotland Club XV squad, scoring one of the team’s seven tries in their recent victory over the Scotland Under-20 team in a Six Nations warm-up squad. He is very polite about continually being called Kerr – his brother’s name – in The Offside Line’s weekly BT Premiership Leaderboards feature.
Simon Taylor played 66 times for Scotland toured with the British and Irish Lions in Australia in 2001 and in New Zealand in 2005, although injury prematurely curtailed both trips. He played three seasons in France with Stade Francais between 2007 and 2010, then three seasons in England with Bath between 2010 and 2013. After a stint coaching Watsonians he now coaches Edinburgh University.
Phil Smith has been head coach at Heriot’s since 2012 and was at the helm when they won the league and cup double in 2015 and the league again in 2016. He is also head of rugby at Glasgow Academy and has coached Scotland at various age-grade levels as well as the Club XV side.
Peter Wright played club rugby at prop forward for Lasswade, Boroughmuir and Melrose. He was capped 21 times by Scotland and toured New Zealand with the Lions in 1993. He has since coached a number of clubs in Scotland, including Glasgow Hawks to the league and cup double in 2005, had a stint with Scotland Under-20s and is currently calls the shots Boroughmuir in the BT Premiership. In his spare time, he does a bit of punditry for the BBC and is a cricket umpire during the summer.
Rory Baldwin is the editor and co-founder of the Scottish Rugby Blog and has little practical experience to draw on outside of a few bleak outings for Inverness Royal Academy’s rugby team in the mid-90s. The Scottish Rugby Blog offers a fans’ view of the game and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017, a year that saw them pass the 1,000,000 words published mark and launch a new podcast.
Stuart Bathgate was The Offside Line’s star signing during the summer. He has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000. He first played rugby in 1972, in the second row of the George Watson’s College 17th XV. He impressed his coach so much that he was soon making his debut for the 18ths.
David Barnes isn’t very good at taking a hint and founded The Offside Line in March 2016 when the mainstream press stopped giving him work. He has been a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.
Dougie Vipond is a failed schoolboy full-back, BBC Rugby presenter, and drummer with Deacon Blue
Angus Vipond, 17, is former Scotland Uner-16 stand-off and current member of Scotland Under-18 squad.
Barry Thomson is married with three kids. Brain of a fly half, body of pre-professional era prop.
Andrew Slorance is former Hawick YM 2nd XV utility player and Prem 2 level ref, who has always been told he can talk a good game even if he couldn’t play it or control it – bookies would say otherwise!
Martin Cooper is teacher from Newcastle though long suffering Scotland fan and avid follower of his home town rugby – ‘the mighty ‘Rose’.
THE RULES –
The aim of the game is to accumulate the least number of points over the course of this year’s NatWest 6 Nations championship.
Every match week the 10 contenders will have to select the winning team from each of the three games and predict the margin of victory. Players will be penalised 10 points for getting the wrong winner and then a point for each match point they are out by.
For example, if contender A selects Ireland to beat France by 10 points and contender B selects France to beat Ireland by 7 points and the final score is a 4-point win for Ireland then –
- Contender A ends up with 6 points as he/she was 6 points out in their prediction.
- Contender B ends up with 21 points out because they were 11 points out in their prediction [they had France at +7 but France ended up -4 = 11] and they have paid a 10-point penalty for picking the wrong match winner.
Clear as mud!
A running total of points accumulated by each contender will be published each week until a winner is unveiled after the final round of matches on 17th March.