ROUND FIVE PREDICTIONS –
ITALY v SCOTLAND
- Tony Stanger: Scotland win by 18
“Not an easy game but we’ll have too much in attack.”
- Tom English: Scotland win by 25
“ Italy will struggle against the pace of the visitors.”
- Craig Gossman: Scotland win by 20
“After a tough outing last week I don’t expect the chances to be left out there this week and see Scotland bouncing back.”
- Simon Taylor: Scotland win by 12
“We’re surely too good for them these days.”
- Phil Smith: Scotland win by 18
“While history shows that we have struggled in Italy, there is every suggestion, in the way we are playing, that this should be a positive visit to Rome.”
- Rory Baldwin: Scotland win by 11
“I think Italy will make this trickier than it needs to be but Scotland should have enough class coming off the bench to cut loose if they keep it professional for the first hour.”
- Viki Mendelssohn: Scotland win by 16
“Last match of the Champs and it should all come together for Scotland. It will be tough though and the Italians may fancy their chances.”
- Peter Wright: Scotland win by 12
“Too much class with Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, plus a strong bench.”
- Stuart Bathgate: Scotland win by 8
“The selection of Nick Grigg will prove a masterstroke, giving Scotland the extra midfield punch needed to break down a stuffy defence.”
- David Barnes: Italy win by 3
“The only chance I have of winning this thing is going for the left-field choice. ”
- Dougie Vipond: Scotland win by 12
“Last week was painful if not predictable for Scotland (given the quality of the Irish), so it’s time for a big finish in Rome.”
- Angus Vipond: Scotland win by 18
“We’ve had a mixed Six Nations but I think that we should win this fixture comfortably.”
- Barry Thomson: Scotland win by 13
“We should be too strong but Italy also showed a bit of attacking flair last week so may get some joy if we’re not at our best defensively.”
- Andrew Slorance: Scotland win by 14
“It won’t be easy in Rome but think the time (and team) is right for a solid performance away from home.”
- Martin Cooper: Scotland win by 12
“If we can cut out errors from last week we can do well but I’ve a feeling Italy might put up a decent fight in Rome.”
Last year, more than 14,000 Scots took part in the Kiltwalk helping to raise over £2.6 million for over 780 charities across Scotland. Thanks to the extra 40% from The Hunter Foundation, for every £100 raised by a walker, your chosen charity receives £140. The first Kiltwalk of the year is in Glasgow on Sunday, 29 April. The walk begins at Glasgow Green with Mighty Striders ending 23-miles away in Balloch. To ensure there’s a walk for all ages and abilities, there’s also the 14-mile Big Stroll and the six-mile Wee Wander to choose from. The Kiltwalk then heads to Aberdeen on 3 June, with St Andrews to Dundee on 19 August, and lastly takes to the streets of Edinburgh on Sunday 16 September. Visit: www.thekiltwalk.co.uk
ENGLAND v IRELAND
- Tony Stanger: Ireland win by 6
“As tight as a pair of skinny jeans but a 3rd slam for Ireland.”
- Tom English: Ireland win by 6
“England will surely improve, but Ireland’s momentum is huge and a Grand Slam can be theirs … just.”
- Craig Gossman: Ireland win by 5
“Ireland on a roll and England looking a bit lost. Ireland to edge it.”
- Simon Taylor: England win by 6
“Because the alternative is too awful to consider.”
- Phil Smith: England win by 5
“Different kinds of pressure for both teams here. Can Eddie Jones avoid three defeats in a row which could lead to his position being under pressure? Can Ireland finally win a Grand Slam, after a few near misses with a group of players that should probably be winning them? If the England defence cope with the intricacies of the Irish attack I think they will sneak it.”
- Rory Baldwin: Ireland win by 4
“Yes they’ll go on about it, but they look too well coached to be denied at this stage. England won’t be able to outmuscle them even at home. Should be close though.”
- Viki Mendelssohn: Ireland win by 10
“All they need to do is visualise Eddie Jones at the bottom of every ruck and that should give them them the motivation to complete their deserved Grand Slam.”
- Peter Wright: England win by 7
“Home advantage counts. England don’t lose many games at Twickenham”
- Stuart Bathgate: Ireland win by 9
“Can’t see England’s mini-slump ending against opponents who are going for only the third Grand Slam in their history.”
- David Barnes: England win by 2
“It is going to be a war.”
- Dougie Vipond: Ireland win by 7
“The wheels have really come off the bogie for England in this campaign. Outplayed by us, outmuscled by France and now Eddie Jones’ video nasty has brought further disarray to their shambolic camp. The “scummy” Irish have been the best team in the championship and deserve the ‘slam’ on St Patrick’s Day.”
- Angus Vipond: Ireland win by 3
“This team look unbeatable and I think they will rob England at Twickenham.”
- Barry Thomson: Ireland win by 9
“Ireland win the Grand Slam. They have been clinical this year and proved themselves to be better than everyone else.”
- Andrew Slorance: England win by 8
“Bold changes by an under pressure coach plus home advantage will be enough to see them over the line against what could be an over hyped Ireland.”
- Martin Cooper: Ireland win by 5
“Ireland will want it more I think but England will be pretty determined to prove critics wrong.”
WALES v FRANCE
- Tony Stanger: Wales by 11
“Not convinced by France’s away form.”
- Tom English: Wales win by 7
“Home advantage should tell for Wales.”
- Craig Gossman: Wales win by 8
“Wales bring back in some of the big guns and home advantage to count in their favour.”
- Simon Taylor: Wales win by 8
“Get the feeling that France may have shot their bolt, and Wales have some big players coming back in.”
- Phil Smith: France win by 8
“This could be the most entertaining game of the afternoon with two teams having the freedom to simply go for it. France’s resurgence, I think, will give them the upper hand.”
- Rory Baldwin: Wales win by 6
“While a draw is what we really want, Wales are starting to find their identity as an attacking force and France are still desperately seeking theirs.”
- Viki Mendelssohn: France to win by 6
“France have started to gather some momentum and had they found their form in earlier games it could have been a more successful Championship!”
- Peter Wright: Wales win by 14
“Home advantage key again, plus Wales are playing pretty well with a lot of big players coming back in.”
- Stuart Bathgate: Wales in by 10
“Buoyed by that big win over Italy, Wales should be too composed and coherent for the French.”
- David Barnes: Wales win by 12
“France can be great but they can’t seem to be consistent.”
- Dougie Vipond: Wales win by 12
“Wales have the chance to finish second in this Championship and have brought Alun Wyn Jones back into their immensely experienced side. Gatland will be hoping the French celebrated a wee bit too much after their fine win against England last week.”
- Angus Vipond: Wales win by 15
“This Welsh side will run away with this fixture if they play clinically.”
- Barry Thomson: Wales win by 3
“Wales just, but France are starting to perform a bit so it’ll be close!”
- Andrew Slorance: Wales win by 10
“Which France will turn up? I’m betting it’s the disjointed and in indisciplined squad which will give Biggar and co enough leeway to earn a deserved victory.”
- Martin Cooper: France win by 3
“Visitors have their tails up and Wales inconsistent”
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.