Rugby Predictions for 2011

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.
Odds: 7/2
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.
Odds: 13/8

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.
Odds: 7/4

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.
Odds: 3/1

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.
Odds: 9/2
See Rugby World Cup fixtures here

One or two slightly controversial predictions perhaps – let us know what you think will happen this year.

18 thoughts on “Rugby Predictions for 2011

  1. Six Nations – England, I honestly think we’ve got a great shout this time round, we have a set team (well everywhere except at centre) and they gelled pretty well. Doubt it’ll be a grand slam though.

    Aviva Premiership – Leicester. Probably a little biased, but I think that things are slowly clicking into place now. If we manage to beat Saints on Saturday we all of a sudden go 6 points clear at the top, and although Saints have two games in hand they’ve still go to go out and get them, wouldn’t be surprised if they finished top however, but rightly or wrongly that counts for nowt nowadays.

    Heineken Cup – Leinster. They still have a very strong side and are a tough match for anyone. Don’t think Toulouse will be able to win it twice on the bounce.

    Rugby World Cup – England. I don’t think it’ll be won by a southern hemisphere team. The Australians didn’t look good enough both during the tri-nations and the autumn internationals, and New Zealand will be unable to deal with the pressure of playing on home soil. South Africa will continue to struggle while they’ve got De Villiers in charge.

  2. I admire your optimism Richard where England are concerned, and I’d love to see a Grand Slam campaign followed by a World Cup win.

    However, I can’t see it happening. England are a little like Gavin Henson at the moment – overhyped!

  3. Six Nations: either France or England. Both teams showed that when push comes to shove they manage a strong comeback. Plus i see both teams pushing hard to get a win in Six Nations as a morale boost for the World Cup. Ireland has it’s chance cause of the fixtures but i’m not sure that the team is strong enough to that the home court advantage will be enough to lead them to victory against France and England

    World Cup: Kiwis. Home soil games and the fans will be a bonus for them. Remember they are crazy enough about this sport to give it all especially with a stadium packed with loyal fans. And as a team they are at this moment far better than anything out there. Ausies are a strong contender but again i don’t think they can win against the Kiwis and the hordes of Kiwi fans that will be backing their team…

  4. Brave call for the Internationals there, Hutch.
    I don’t know enough of any club games (we don’t see enough in Dubai), but the Internationals are interesting!
    I agree that England are overhyped, but I also think that, bar the surprise performance of Scotchland against the Saffers, England played more of the ‘best rugby’ than any of the other teams in the Autumn.
    I think Ireland have past their prime, much like the Saffers, and will struggle with England, if they hit their form, even at home.
    I reckon England for the 6N possibly even a slam.
    Much as I’d like to see a Kiwi capitulation under pressure at the RWC, and you’re right – the pressure will be even heavier at home, I just can’t see it happening this time. They really are just too good. Obviously, you’re only as good as your last game, so who knows what will happen between now and then?
    NZ for Tri Nations and RWC success, I’m afraid.

  5. Re: the World Cup, not only will New Zealand be under ridiculous pressure from their public and media, they’ll also be refereed slightly differently.

    Every World Cup ref wants to referee the final, and to be appointed to do that, they need to avoid any mistakes during the tournament. And that means not giving Richie McCaw the benefit of the doubt at the breakdown. When they are refereed properly, they have been known to struggle, and they’ll buckle under the weight of the aforementioned pressure!

  6. Six Nations: England
    Although England are still very inconsistent, I do feel we’re starting to come of age again and for the first time in a long time I actually feel confident in the fact that we have a good chance. Key area for me is the centre partnership. Should Manu Tuilagi be included?

    Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints
    As a Bath supporter, it pains me to say it but its between Northampton and Leicester – and so I am backing Northampton for the win.

    Magners League: Don’t know
    Don’t watch enough to give a prediction.

    Heineken Cup: Northampton
    I actually think Northampton have a real shot at the double.

    Super 15: Crusaders
    Agree it’ll be won by a NZ team and the Crusaders are a class team

    Tri-Nations: New Zealand
    I expect it to be closer than the 2010 campaign, but still for NZ to win it comfortably.

    Rugby World Cup: New Zealand
    Normally its about this time I get excited because I know that NZ will start to faulter, but this just isn’t the case this time round. Can they be beaten, yes. Will they be beaten, doubtful. For me it rests on Mccaw and Carter – if either of them get injuried before or during the RWC I actually think NZ will lose, otherwise I just can’t see an upset.

  7. Six Nations: England- Although ‘overhyped’ at the moment, i believe that there is a great chance for us winning the competition. The only thing that needs to be sorted out is the centre partnership. Shontayne Hape (12) and Manu Tuilagi (13)?, they both show promise …. what do you think?

  8. I’d be tempted to give Tuilagi a go, because as you say it is our problem position and it might just be worth a crack. It would also be quite amusing and stir up those that like to accuse the Kiwis of poaching Pacific Islanders (I know this is different before anyone says it!).

    However, I was also quite excited about Lesley Vainikolo at one stage, and Johnno might be inclined to play it safe.

  9. I know you mention it there, but why do we have to resort to Pacific Islanders?
    Don’t we have enough English talent out there?
    Given the chance to settle in, Anthony Allen, Dominic Waldouck, Dan Hipkiss, Mat Tait, so many others will reach the heights.
    Just look at the Premiership youngsters.
    Conor O’Shea, now of Quins, formerly the RFU Academies Director, or something, was asked in an interview in Rugby World at the start of the season who he thinks the teams of the future are, and he said the amount of talent in the English Academy system at the moment and over the last few years shows that over the coming years, England will come to sit firmly at the head of the table.
    He’s Irish, and he reckons England has the best youngsters in the World.
    Why not trust these people – they’re int he system, MJ must know about them. Look at the way the Aussies treated James O’Connor, he’s a wizened old 20 years old, and one of the best wingers in the world.
    We have to back our own talent, and watch the results.

  10. Ed, I agree to an extent. There is a reasonable amount of young talent and an apparent reluctance to give them a run in the team. With the exception of Mathew ’40-caps and no impact’ Tait, and with the inclusion of Sinbad, Jon Clarke, JTH and probably a few others, we don’t need a massive PI player.

    That said, Johnno loves a massive player, and if he insists on sticking with Hape, Tindall or Banahan, I’d probably rather see Tuilagi in the centres.

  11. I know it’s heading away from the predictions thread, but I think it’s the treatment of youngsters with the potential to make it on the world stage by the RFU which is holding England back. (Tait’s treatment by Andy Robinson was unutterably dreadful, if he’d kept him around the bench for a bit before dropping him like a hot rock, he’d be twice the player he is now)
    England have the most registered players by quite some distance. The law of averages would say that with those numbers, they should be the best. Look at the USA and Athletics – they have fazzillions of athletes, and they win everything.
    Hutch, you mention JTH and Jon Clarke. Two players who have consistently shone at their respective clubs, banging insistently on RA and MJ’s doors.
    Back to the original thread, I think with judicious picks throughout the 6N, building partnerships, England have a good chance at both 6N and RWC. Can MJ pull it off? I’ll be the first to slap him on the back and buy him a pint if he does!

  12. I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I want to see England field the best team possible, and I do think Tuilagi is possibly the best option we have at 13 at the mo (though I do agree about the likes of JC knocking on Englands door – but with no reply). However, on the other hand I want to see English players playing for England. We already a fair few “foreigners” playing for England i.e. Hartley (NZ), Fourie (SA), Hape (NZ), Flutey (NZ), D Armitage (Trinidad), S Armitage (Trinidad) and I’m not sure I want to add to that. If we insist on have non English players playing for England then there must be some kind of cap on it i.e. 2 or 3 (just random numbers), otherwise we could very quickly end up with an England team with no English born players.

  13. 6-Nations: France, ignore what happened v Australia, not unlike any of the French teams through the years to collapse to defeat and come straight back stronger than ever.

    Heineken Cup: Leinster, definitely the in-form team currently, no shortage of confidence in their own abilities.

    World Cup: France, After the 6-Nations last year they looked the best prepared NH team, I still believe they can go all the way in NZ, they do not fear any other team.

  14. I think England have got a good chance of winning the Six Nations provided they beat Wales in their opening game. They will win all their home games and then it should come down to a potential Grand Slam decided in Dublin.

    I can’t see past New Zealand for the World Cup. Yes they have crumbled before but they must have surely learnt from their failures in the past and home advantage should just about take them over the finish line. I’m sure there will be some scares along the way, possibly from England, but the William Webb Ellis trophy will be in McCaw’s hands come the end.

    The Amlin Premiership is perhaps the most hard to call. I can see a Northampton v Leicester final but it is hard to predict a winner from there. Leicester have been there, seen it and got the ‘t-shirt’ but Northampton have definitely been the form team this year. I will stick my neck out and say Northampton.

  15. Manu Tuilagi for 13, forget Matthew Tait. He has been given multiple chances before ( i think he even played in the RWC 07 final) and has not performed to that ‘international standard’. Tindall to be honest has come to the end of his days and i dont think Banahan is right for the job.

    I think if you form a partnership with Hape and Tuilagi we will win the 6N and the RWC. Hape will apply intelligence and structure while tuilagi will apply power and strength. Its a no brainer, i believe these two will work excellently together. Am i being foolish or do you think this partnership will work? If tuilagi is given the chance to get some experience he will become unstopable.

  16. 6 Nations: Ireland
    Super 15: Crusaders
    Tri nations: All Blacks
    RWC: BOKS!!!! – even with De Villiers in charge

  17. Six Nations-Ireland for sure, this will be their biggest year to prove themselves since the grand slam in 2009.They will be so eager to prove that they are not over the hill.
    Henieken Cup-Northanpton, Toulouse or Leinster
    World Cup-I reckon with the way New Zealand are playing right now and the fact that they will be at home, along with the passion that will instill within the team with the first ever home Hakas of the world cup, i find that they will be unbeatable, so New Zealand for sure.

  18. Tri Nationa is very tricky to predict in a world cup year but going by general performance over the years I believe it will be close fought contest between NZ & AUS. I don’t think SA will make much of an impact and will be focusing on getting their players ready to defend the world cup title. of course all the teams will be keeping a close eye on there superstars but we all need to remember that just because the world cup is just around the corner doesn’t mean there are going to be some shockers just like habana when he hit the seen or sivivatu aswell i think thats how its spelt.

    WRC i think we will be looking at a NZ-SA final. SA will snatch a win in the final due to the fact that NZ have always crumbled under the pressure and the pressure being the home squad will be their undoing.

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