We like making predictions here at The Rugby Blog, and the beginning of a new year offers a great opportunity to look ahead and predict (guess) what might happen.
Here are my predictions for various events coming up this year.
Six Nations: Ireland
They play France and England at home this year, giving them a good opportunity to top the table. I can’t back France after their capitulation against the Aussies, England are too over-hyped at the moment, Wales are too inconsistent, and I can’t see Scotland or Italy winning it.
See Six Nations fixtures here
Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints
Defeat to Quins at the weekend might just knock any complacency out of the Saints, and I expect them to get better and better from here on in.
Magners League: Munster
Munster are already clear at the top of the table and destined for the playoffs. Anything can happen after that, but I suspect they’ll be out of Heineken Cup contention by then and set on winning this piece of silverware.
Heineken Cup: Toulouse
Many people fancy Northampton in the Heineken Cup, but I think Toulouse will show their class in the end. Another side like Toulon or Leinster may benefit in the knockout stages from surviving in a tough pool, but it’s hard to look past the French.
Super 15: Crusaders
It’s World Cup year, so I’d expect all the Kiwi sides to do well in the new-look Super Rugby. Obviously it won’t count for anything come September, but I’m backing the Crusaders for the Super XV title.
Tri-Nations: New Zealand
Everything is going their way this year! I predict that the Kiwis will win the shortened Tri-Nations, although every match is likely to be experimental with key players wrapped in cotton wool.
Rugby World Cup: Australia
If the Kiwis crumble under the pressure during most World Cups, imagine what that pressure will be like as hosts. The Aussies know how to get to them though, and it could be more heartache for the All Blacks at the end of the year.
See Rugby World Cup fixtures here
One or two slightly controversial predictions perhaps – let us know what you think will happen this year.