RBS Six Nations 2012: Staff Predictions and Ones to Watch

With the RBS Six Nations kicking off this weekend, our team have looked ahead and attempted to predict the outcome of this year’s tournament. Have a look through and see who we’re tipping, plus add your own Winner, Wooden Spoon, Try Scorer and One to Watch in the comments section below.

Ben Coles – England & France

Winner: France
Wooden Spoon: Italy
Top Try Scorer: Julien Malzieu
One to Watch: Fergus McFadden – whether he play at 12 or 13, McFadden has to be involved for Ireland in this year’s tournament. Enjoying an excellent season for Leinster, McFadden broke through in last year’s Six Nations championship and performed well at last year’s Rugby World Cup. The man for the future in Ireland’s midfield.

Mark Bonsall – Ireland

Winners: France
Wooden Spoon: Scotland
Top Try Scorer: Vincent Clerc
One to Watch: Conor Murray – thrown into the Senior side just before the World Cup, with little Munster experience, he struggled to impose himself, but with another half season of provincial rugby under his belt, he seems to be growing into a more than capable scrum half. In a tournament devoid of true stars in the key position (Yachvili/Parra excepted), I expect him to shine.

Alex Shaw – Italy

Winner: England
Wooden Spoon: Scotland
Top Try Scorer: Tommy Bowe
One to Watch: Manu Tuilagi – although Tuilagi is likely to miss the first two or three games, he should return for potentially championship deciding fixtures against both France and Ireland. His ability to break the gain line consistently makes him arguably England’s first choice centre, with the likes of Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell looking to secure the berth alongside him. If England’s back line stutters in the opening fixtures, then Tuilagi’s return could be just what is needed to secure another Six Nations title.

Christine Lester – Scotland

Winner: France
Wooden Spoon: Italy
Top Try Scorer: Francois Trinh-Duc
One to Watch: Phillipe Saint-Andre and Stuart Lancaster – granted one is only temporary, but it will still be interesting to see what he can do. The other appears to be a vast improvement on Marc “Dick Dastardly” Lievremont on paper. It is over the next few weeks that we shall see what foundations are being put in place for the next four year cycle.

Tom James – Wales

Winner: France
Wooden Spoon: Italy
Top Try Scorer: Vincent Clerc
One to Watch: Owen Farrell – Stuart Lancaster could well hand the 20-year-old Saracens playmaker his debut in the opening clash at Murrayfield, but don’t expect the young tyro to be overawed. He has a calmness and maturity beyond his years, best shown when he guided Saracens to the Premiership title in front of 82,000 people last year. His performances have led to teammate David Strettle saying he is ‘without fault’ – and Lancaster may even make him England’s first choice kicker.

James Hutchison

Winner: Ireland
Wooden Spoon: Italy
Tries: Maxime Medard
One to Watch: Wesley Fofana – he’s been performing brilliantly for Clermont and could form a terrifying centre partnership with Aurelien Rougerie. No other midfield in the tournament would be able to match that sort of power and pace

Sam Durham

Winner: Wales
Wooden Spoon: Italy
Top try scorer: George North
One to Watch: George North – one of the most talented young rugby players in the world. After his incredible performances at the World Cup in New Zealand, North has to be one to watch. At the age of just 19, North is expected to be the new Shane Williams and I’m sure he can exceed all expectations.

U20 Six Nations

Rachel Simmonite – U20s

Winner: England
Wooden Spoon: Italy or Scotland
One to Watch: Ben Nutley – as England seek to retain their Six Nations crown, their squad contains many players who now have Aviva Premiership experience. On the pitch you can’t miss the blond mop of Northampton Saints openside flanker, Ben Nutley’s hair. Having impressed at the start of the season, some have said that he could be England’s long term openside flanker option, but first he has to perform at Under 20s stage. He is becoming the complete player as he is as comfortable with his hands on the ball in both attack and at the breakdown.

24 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: Staff Predictions and Ones to Watch

  1. Can’t believe nobody else picked Ireland to win…! 3 home games, settled squad, impressive RWC campaign and 3 provinces in Heineken Cup QFs…get yourself down to the bookies!

    1. Head says France, heart says Ireland. I must admit to having already been down the bookies though and have Ireland at 11/2 for the title – ridiculously long odds compared to Wales and England! Ireland’s big disadvantage is being away in Paris and London……

    2. Aren’t you forgetting the fact that they have Eng & Fra away?

      Winner: France
      Wooden Spoon: Scotland
      Top Try Scorer: Vicent Clerc
      One to Watch: Sharples, completely overlooked by previous management. Bags of potential and speed to burn. Hopefully will profit from being in an enterprising, attacking (hopefully) new squad!

  2. Still depends on quick, clean ball. Something England has in the infamous demolition of the Aussies, but havent had since. Lets hope Robshaw is blasting those rucks. Should be some tasty games to watch as long as Wales and England arent crippled by injury and France and Ireland dont choke. Its going to be a corker.

  3. Does anyone else agree that it was probably a poor decision to call up Banahan to the six nations squad? We’ve all seen what he can do and he’s had his chances to prove himself at international level, which I’d say he has squandered. Find it odd he did’nt take a chance with some inexperience like Hopper or Twelvetrees. Waldrom instead of Easter? Waldrom was like a ghost in the Ulster clash and Easter has been in excellent form for Quins. Lancaster must know something we don’t.

    1. I would tend to agree with you about Banahan, but I think it’s possibly his experience and versatility that have got him back into the first team. Let’s face it, they weren’t going to pick Armitage!

    2. Agree on Banahan I think a dislike for HMS bananamahanock is one thing everyone on this blog agrees.

      Disagree about Waldrom I think he was Leicester’s best forward in the Ulster clash. He also had a strong performance for the Saxons on saturday. Easter must have 30 or 40 caps by now and hes never really looked like a world beater.

  4. Winner: England
    Wooden Spoon: Italy
    Top try scorer: Chris Ashton
    One to watch: Owen Farrell – whether he’s playing 10, 12 or 13, he will be in the thick of it, both in attack and defence. Most likely first choice kicker so hopefully he will be racking up the points. With Ashton, Foden and Sharples/Strettle running just off his shoulder, or chasing sneaky grubber kicks, he will be key.

    1. All i’ve ever seen him do is kick (very well i might add) but have you ever seen him make a searing break? Or really challenge the line the way an attacking 10 should. From what i’ve seen hes a game manager and thats it.

  5. Winner: France
    Wooden Spoon: Scotland
    Top Try Scorer: Chris Ashton
    One to Watch: Charlie Hodgson

    Think France just have too much power and pace for everyone else. Plus now they no longer have a lunatic in charge, they may live up to their potential, which is worrying

    Italy have Scotland at home, so assuming England can beat them at Murrayfield (a big assumption), I’m plumping for an Italy win and a Scottish wooden spoon

    My top try scorer and one to watch are linked.

    If Farrell reduces the pressure on Hodgson by taking all the kicks, then Charlie could have a beautiful swansong to his (slightly lacklustre) England career. And if Hodgson is having a good time, then the England backline will be moving and Ashton will be scoring tries.

    That of course, works both ways, if the pressure gets to Hodgson then we could well see an inexperienced England side implode

  6. Winner : Ireland (No Grand Slam)

    Wooden Spoon : Italy

    Top try scorer – Vincent Clerc

    One to watch : Fergus McFadden – If FMF can translate his excellent form for Leinster into the green, Ireland’s new ball in hand game will have another dimension with a triumvirate of Leinsters 10 (Sexton), 12 (D’arcy) & 13.

    Honourable mentions : Owen Farrell – Can see him having a massive tournament if sense prevails and he is planted at 10.

    Disappointments of the tournament – Wales, and in particular, the Welsh backs of North, Roberts & Davies, who will be stagnant and tired following the high intensity training that has already proved to be a huge factor in injuries sustained on key personnel.

  7. Winner – France (Sanity at the helm is a frightening thing)
    Wooden Spoon – (Scotland are looking too good to lose to them)
    Top try scorer – George North (or maybe Sharples if he gets a run out)
    One to watch – Ben Morgan (Looking good for the Scarlets. Solid and reliable. Just what England have been looking for for some time now a number 8 with some life.)

  8. Winner: France
    Wooden spoon: Italy
    Top try scorer: Vincent Clerc (probably will get hat trick againist Ireland given his record.)
    Player to Watch: Donnacha Ryan. what a change 12 months have made to this player. He finished last season as a reserve for Munster, called up to World cup training panel and selected for squad because of his versatility. Made an impression in his few appearances at the tourament and returns to Munster where he goes straight into the team and hasnt look back. With Leo Cullen out this is Ryan chance to nail down the no. 4 jersey. Very good line out operator who loves to tackle and has a little bit of pace too when he ball carries.
    I think Ireland being away from home to England and France makes it unlikely that they will win the championship. Looking forward to seeing how Saint Andre gets on because you just dont know how the French will react given that they got to a World Cup final while fighting with Lievremont.

  9. Hutch – just watched a quick highlights reel of Fofana as i hadn’t seen much. Looks very destructive. I agree, one to watch.

  10. I wish Owen Farrel offered something more in attack than just distribution. He passes and kicks but I can’t recall him making any excellent breaks or offloads. Farrel and Hodgson in the backline means there isn’t much threat coming down the 10/12 channel, unless Ashton is used as a strike runner.

  11. I’d have thought they would use Barritt as the threat for the 12 channel and thereby give Hodgson targets for either the crash ball from Barritt or the dummy run that can hopefully pull the defence out of alignment. Use Farrell at 13 to distribute to the speedy boys – much like Ma Nonu and Conrad Smith do for NZ

    Barritt can off-load well, so I’d like to see Ashton looking for work and appearing on his shoulder with the timing that has helped him score so much before now

    Just please, please don’t let me see Hodgson passing the ball to a static prop or lock in mid-field leaving Farrell and the outside backs marooned outside him

    One thing I like about Farrell is that he seems to have good skill and timing on little grubber and chip kicks. With the defence rushing up so quickly nowadays, its a tactic that seems underused to me. Watch Trinh-Duc in the last Montpellier game (highlights on rugby dump) to see how it should be done

    If Farrell can do similar, then we have the players in Foden, Sharples/Strettle and Ashton to take advantage of it

    Finally, Hodgson still has a decent eye for a gap and although not as nippy as he once was, still has the speed to make useful half breaks

  12. I’d go France to win Italy wooden spoon but to get their usual shock win against someone .No Grand Slam can’t see Ireland winning in France and I can see Wales coming up short in Dublin (unfortunately) but I do see us spoiling the FRench Grand Slam party if they turn up for that last game looking for it .

    Majority here going for England but can you expect a team that had a bit of a shambles at the World Cup with a change in coaching staff etc etc to turn things around that quickly just doesn’t happen , what’s that Wales 2008 post 2007 World Cup oh well you never know !

  13. France gets the most votes as winner. I agree with that. I think it’s going to be an exciting 6 nations. The 1st Leinster V Bath game reminded me more of a Super 15 game. Fast running and try scoring. There could be good rugby on show!! I think any of 4 teams can win it. Do I need to say what those 4 teams are? My prediction:

    1. France
    2. Ireland
    3/4 Wales / England
    5/6 Scotland / Italy.

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