THE TABLE AFTER ROUND ONE –
6N: Townsend turns to the tried and tested to face France
Women’s 6N: Martin looks to French-based trio to give Scotland the edge
BT Premiership: Team-of the-week (Saturday 3rd February)
ROUND TWO PREDICTIONS –
IRELAND v ITALY
- Tony Stanger: Ireland win by 21
“An improvement from Italy but not enough to keep the score down.”
- Tom English: Ireland win by 25
“Irish not the most exciting team to watch but this should be straightforward.”
- Craig Gossman: Ireland win by 25
“Ground out the win in Paris but I expect them to cut loose at home. Larmour an exciting talent to make his debut.”
- Simon Taylor: Ireland win by 25
“Grim-faced greenclad grafters gradually grind down any initial Italian resistance.”
- Phil Smith: Ireland win by 41
“Home advantage will allow Ireland to really hit their attacking straps and Italy will struggle to reach the heights of last weekend – 47-6 win for Ireland.”
- Rory Baldwin: Ireland by 23
- Viki Mendelssohn: Ireland to win by 25
“The boys in green will be too strong in every area of the pitch for the Italians.
- Peter Wright: Ireland win by 20
“Ireland are just better – too experienced and will be desperate to put in a good performance after not quite hitting their straps last weekend.”
- Stuart Bathgate: Ireland win by 18
“After toughing it out in Paris, Ireland should get on top earlier against the Italians and manage a couple of late tries.
- David Barnes: Ireland win by 35
“Italy put their all into last week’s match and got nothing out of it – now they have to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. ”
- Dougie Vipond: Ireland win by 20
“That dramatic, last gasp win in Paris – after 41 phases – on the opening weekend shows just how street smart this Irish team have become. Italy have never won in Dublin during the Six Nations and won’t this time around.”
- Angus Vipond: Ireland win by 32
“this Ireland side aren’t going to struggle against the Italians, O’Shea would have to pull something unexpected out the bag to get close to winning.”
- Barry Thomson: Ireland win by 21
“They don’t concede much – really strong defence – far too good for Italy.”
- Andrew Slorance: Ireland win by 28
“O’Shea will have something up his sleeve, but won’t be nearly enough.”
- Martin Cooper: Ireland win by 17
“Italy looked dangerous at times but Ireland are too clever – they will keep the scoreboard ticking and get rewarded with some late pressure.”
ENGLAND v WALES
- Tony Stanger: England win by 13
“Patchell to have the bottle but not enough to prevent an England win.”
- Tom English: England win by 7
“Eddie Jones’ team to back up his trash talk with a win.”
- Craig Gossman: England win by 7
“Right down to the wire I feel, with benches deciding the outcome England’s way … just.”
- Simon Taylor: England win by 12
“Eddie Jones to win the battle of the knobend coaches.”
- Phil Smith: England win by 6
“As England will be able to match the physicality of the Welsh back-row, I can see this going to the wire, particularly as the Welsh half-backs look stronger than their English counterparts – England 18 Wales 12.”
- Viki Mendelssohn: England win by 16.
“Match of the day – think England will have to much fire power up front.”
- Peter Wright: England win by 8
“Twickenham will be too much for Wales.”
- Rory Baldwin: England win by 4
“Eddie Jones nonsense during the week will have fired Wales and their captain up, but as we found out last weekend, away wins are trickier to come by than we thought. Should be a tussle but England will hold them off.”
- Stuart Bathgate: England win by 6
“Wales were made to look good last week, but they always raise their game against England. However, Eddie Jones’ team should have just enough to win..”
- David Barnes: Wales win by 3
“Eddie Jones has poked the wrong dragon with his cheap jibes at Wales this week.”
- Dougie Vipond: England win by 7
“Wales didn’t have to be too good to destroy Scotland last week. You could say the same about England versus Italy. Both packs will match up fairly evenly but the dynamic pairing of Ford amd Farrell will be the difference for England. Add to that the explosive power of Johnathon Joseph and I think the young Welsh stand off, Rhys Patchell is in for a pressured afternoon.”
- Angus Vipond: Wales by 7
“I feel that Wales could cause an upset this weekend, Gatland has put a strong team out.”
- Barry Thomson: Wales win by 3
“I just think Wales might surprise a few folk again. They know how to get the job done as they showed last weekend.”
- Andrew Slorance: England win by 10
“Eddie Jones wins the mind games.”
- Martin Cooper: England win by 3.
“Think it will be close but England have too much power up front and will be able to punch through, upsetting the blitz defence of Wales.”
SCOTLAND v FRANCE
- Tony Stanger: Scotland win by 1
“Desperation to keep the media off their backs will help Scotland squeak a win.”
- Tom English: Scotland win by 5.
“France have serious grunt but if Scots can look after the ball they can bounce back from the horrors of Cardiff.”
- Craig Gossman: Scotland win by 12
“Backing the boys to bounce back at BT Murrayfield.”
- Simon Taylor: Scotland win by 3
“Looks a better team selection than last week.”
- Phil Smith: Scotland win by 10
“Home advantage should certainly see an improved performance, but will it be enough to control the strong French pack. However, with it looking like a cold crisp day I am hoping we can run the ball with a bit more accuracy to secure the win – Scotland 23 France 13.
- Viki Mendelssohn: Scotland win by 7.
“Scotland need to turn around the debacle of last week. In front of a home crowd I think they will improve and sneak a win.”
- Peter Wright: Scotland win by 9
“They have to bounce back.”
- Rory Baldwin: Scotland win by 5
- Stuart Bathgate: Scotland by 4
“It will be tight, and could be decided by a couple of kicks. This Scotland line-up looks more solid than the one from last week, so they should just shade it.
- David Barnes: France win by 8
“Somebody has to contemplate the unthinkable.”
- Dougie Vipond: Scotland win by 5
“France will come to Murrayfield looking to do some damage after losing at the death in Paris last week. Gregor’s men will really struggle to lift themsleves after that miserable display in Cardiff on the opening day. I actually think France will win but I can’t bring myself to put it on the prediction … heart ruling head.”
- Angus Vipond: Scotland win by 3
“I think they’ll bounce back from last week, I have full confidence in the team.
- Barry Thomson: Scotland win by 9
“Genuine progress has been made over the last couple of years and they have showed they can bounce back from poor performances. France aren’t as disciplined as Wales in defence so we will create chances – execution can’t be as poor again surely!”
- Andrew Slorance: Scotland win by 7
“Battle of the wounded tigers, but hope (pray!) Scotland can’t be as bad as last week.”
- Martin Cooper: Scotland win by 5
U20 6N: Scots salvage some pride at end of one-sided encounter
6N: Laidlaw ready to do his talking on the park
6N: Gilchrist eager to get to grips with French ferocity
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.
Viki Mendelssohn is one of the founders in Scotland of women’s rugby. She works now in sports PR, events & sponsorship and runs Scotland’s largest Touch Rugby league.
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.