The Rugby Blog’s Predictions for 2012 – Revisited

Just about six months on from our original predictions for 2012, now seems like a good time to look back on our prophecies from earlier in the season and see where we’ve gone right, and wrong.

Aviva Premiership

Champions: Harlequins (Prediction – Saracens)
Relegated: None (Prediction – Newcastle)

Technically despite Newcastle finishing in 12th place, both of these are wrong. Back in January, Saracens had just beaten Harlequins in the Big Game and were the form team in the league. But Quins continued to rack up the wins whilst Saracens lost out in crucial games at Wembley and at home to the Tigers. Leicester’s outstanding run of form led to them finishing second instead of Saracens and consequently winning the semi-final at Welford Road.

As for relegation, Newcastle did indeed finish bottom of the table, but due to London Welsh having their promotion application denied and Bristol losing out in the RFU Championship semi-final to the Cornish Pirates, no one is coming up, meaning no one is going down.

For reference, here was our predicted table at the start of the season (the Harlequins placing was slightly off the mark!):

Predicted: 1. Leicester (Champions), 2. Saracens, 3. Northampton, 4. Bath, 5. Gloucester, 6. Irish, 7. Wasps, 8. Harlequins, 9. Sale, 10. Exeter, 11. Worcester, 12. Newcastle

Actual: 1. Harlequins (Champions), 2. Leicester, 3. Saracens, 4. Northampton, 5. Exeter, 6. Sale, 7. Irish, 8. Gloucester, 9. Bath, 10. Worcester, 11. Wasps, 12. Newcastle

RaboDirect Pro12

Champions: Ospreys (Prediction – Leinster)

Well, until the 78th minute of the final on Sunday, this prediction looked good! But a moment of Shane Williams magic and Dan Biggar’s trusty boot prevented the European Champions from completing a famous double. Instead, the Ospreys picked up the title, with their form improving rapidly over the last few months following the appointment of Steve Tandy. Their hammering of Munster in the semi-finals was one result that was not expected however, with our original prediction expecting an all-Irish final. Glasgow however did finish in 4th spot as predicted.

Heineken Cup & Amlin Challenge Cup

Champions: Leinster (Prediction – Leinster) & Biarritz (Prediction – Stade Français)

Success. Leinster added a third Heineken Cup in four years to their collection following a heavy win over fellow Irish side Ulster in the final at Twickenham. We originally marked out Toulouse and Harlequins to be competing with them in the final, so Ulster’s run comes as a bit of a surprise. But, no one could really hold Leinster back. It makes you wonder whether they can do it again this time next year.

As for the Amlin Challenge Cup, given Biarritz’s appalling domestic form we failed to even consider them as contenders for the title, picking a group of London Wasps, Toulon and Stade Français to compete. It just goes to show that if you have a good enough kicker like Dimitri Yachvili, anything is possible.

Six Nations

Champions: Wales (Prediction – Wales)

As expected, Warren Gatland’s young side came together to win yet another Grand Slam, this time with key wins against England at Twickenham and Ireland in Dublin. It was a special tournament for Wales who made up for the heartache suffered at last year’s Rugby World Cup, led superbly by Sam Warburton with their star wingers Alex Cuthbert and George North stealing the show. The final game against France wasn’t exactly the decider predicted, but there was no doubt about the champions.

With the RFU Championship, Top 14, Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship still to be decided we’ll leave those for some other time, but with three out of six predictions correct, we could have done better!


13 thoughts on “The Rugby Blog’s Predictions for 2012 – Revisited

  1. Just goes to show what you lot know. Harlequins slightly of the mark! Take another look at the rest of your predictions for the AVIVA. mind you I suppose you got the nearly dead certs right. Well done…

    1. It’s a tricky business but one I don’t think we’re that bad at (?!)

      I don’t recall anyone turning around at the start of the year and saying Harlequins would be champions. They’ve had an incredible season. In the same manner, no one expected Exeter to perform so well.

      1. The original Quins forecast said something like ‘it could be a miserable season at the Stoop’, which seemed odd at the time given we weren’t losing many to the world cup and had finished last season with wins over Munster and Stade Francais. Still, these things are so hard to predict and not many would have thought Bath, Wasps and Exeter would have the seasons they each ended up having, so I guess one mistake like that isn’t too bad, and a number of these predictions were as correct as can be expected (most of top 4, London Irish, Worcester Newcastle).

      2. Not many predicted Harlequins as champs, but people who had watched them closely over the last couple of years were quietly confident of a top 4 finish

  2. To be fair i think with Quins, Wasps and Exeter nobody would have predicted where they finished, or the type of season they would have.

  3. I like the accountability of publishing the original predictions versus the actual results…it doesn’t seem to happen anywhere else as far as I can see. Nearly all of them from The Times to Rugby World would be way off the mark, but they choose not to mention it.

    Inevitably though, there’s the usual tirade of ‘you are useless, you got it wrong’ comments…if we could accurately predict everything, we’d be professional gamblers!

    What it does highlight is the fortunes of some teams compared to our expectations – Exeter doing way better than anyone expected, which is great to see, and Wasps, whose troubles have been well-documented, doing a lot worse.

  4. I just looked back to see what my comment was about the original predictions for Quins, when I saw you put is at 8th. This is what I wrote:

    “Fearless Fred
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    Sorry, but I’ve got to disagree with you about our chances at Quins. Everyone seems to be judging how we will do on the basis that we’ve not had many new joiners. What you’re failing to see are the players that we’re bringing up from within.

    Yes, we lost Gonzo to the Chiefs over the summer, but when you have players like Ross Chisholm and Sam Smith waiting in the wings (or wing/full back in the case of Chisholm) we’re not going to be that disadvantaged. With the two new additional props, we now have good cover across most of the pack. In fact our options on the back row are pretty enviable, I would say, with Robshaw not going to the RWC, Tom Guest who would be a first pick at most clubs, Will Skinner, and the up and coming Luke Wallace and Chris York too. Add in Nick Easter and big Mo when the RWC is over, and out pack is pretty damn solid.

    Yes we have Danny Care out for the first 6 weeks roughly, but Karl Dickson (Lee’s Brother) is more than capable as a stand in (in fact he almost displaced DC as first choice at one point last season). With Rory Clegg coming on leaps and bounds at FH (Remember it was he that played the 2nd half against Munster and closed that game out), and centres like Jordan Turner-Hall, George Lowe, Matt Hopper, and a backline from Ugo Monye, Sam Smith, Ross Chisholm, Mike Brown, I would say that we pose a serious threat to any team, home or away. Remember we were the first team to beat Northampton at Franklins Gardens last season. We also had the stingiest defense (shared with Sarries) and let in the fewest tries in the season, and in pretty much losing game, we were within 7 points at the end. Write us off at your peril. Realistically, I would say we will finish at least in the top 6, and if we hit the ground running at the start of the season, we could make top 4.”

    Okay, so I was wrong in where we would end up, but I think I was pretty much right with the gist of it!

  5. Anyone who is criticising this article clearly has little concept of how hard it is to predict a rugby tournament. Especially one that lasts a whole season! I have yet to see a proffessional pundit predict anything this difficult. Have you read Jerry Guscott’s BBC predictions? He gets them wrong every week. Thats the kind of game rugby is.

    Good article Ben, and thanks for the excellent coverage across the season. Personally, I’m glad you got it wrong, makes everything that little bit more entertaining!

  6. 6N, Pro 12 losing finalists, Heineken winner, 3 out of top 4 in premiership. I think that is excellent picking. All the talk on Chiefs was of second season syndrome, so they really have surpassed all expectations. I think Bath were a pretty fair pick for a top 4 finish given the investment. I’m so glad Quins didn’t read the script though and for demonstrating you can play great rugby in an English winter.

  7. I’m assuming those who have had a go about the original predictions won all their pools as well as being top of the Global table in every aspect of rugby…

    Hmm…thought not

    Congrats on doing so well with the original predictions…being an Ospreys fan, I really appreciated the moment of magic from Shane. ha ha

  8. I seem to recall Edinburgh were predicted to finish bottom of their Heineken Cup group. Something about a lack of quality players, particularly in the back row.

    Of course I backed them in every game, honest.

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