Team of the 2018 World Cup

Embed from Getty Images

It’s been a fantastic tournament, full of twists and surprises, and enlivened by some stunning performances, including a few from some unlikely candidates. Here’s my team of the tournament, playing in an attack-minded 4-2-1-3 set-up.

Continue reading “Team of the 2018 World Cup”


Team of the Six Nations 2018

Embed from Getty Images

Well, it’s fair to say that things didn’t exactly turn out like I predicted. Continue reading “Team of the Six Nations 2018”

Six Nations 2018 – predictions

My annual Six Nations predictions have not been notable for their Nostradamus-like accuracy but last year in a rare display of competence I had things mostly bang on. I’m hoping to continue the hot streak (once counts as a streak, right?) with my predictions for the 2018 tournament – here’s my (barely) educated guess at the final rankings.  Continue reading “Six Nations 2018 – predictions”

Team of the Six Nations 2017

It’s fair to say that it’s been a tournament of twists and turns and even though the final standings are pretty close to how I predicted they’d end up, the way we got there was more than a little unexpected. England sealed the Championship a week early, but only after lucky escapes against France and Wales. Scotland demonstrated the progress they’ve made under Vern Cotter by beating Ireland and Wales, only to implode during their much-hyped showdown with the Auld Enemy. Ireland suffered surprise defeats against Scotland and Wales, before finally rediscovering their Autumn form and denying England a second-straight Grand Slam on the final day. France gained their first top three finish in over five years, even if it took a farcical finale amid accusations of cheating to get there. Wales put in some of their best performances under caretaker coach Rob Howley and still contrived to sink to their lowest finish in a decade. And Italy were…well, Italy, although they did manage to utterly perplex England for an hour.  Continue reading “Team of the Six Nations 2017”

Six Nations 2017 – predictions

Less than a week out from the start of the Northern Hemisphere’s premier rugby championship we have a no-less respected annual tradition – my predictions for the tournament’s final rankings. Why should you listen to me? Well, my success rate for these predictions over the last few years is a whopping 0%, which means that this year I’m surely due.  So without further ado, here’s how I see things going.  Continue reading “Six Nations 2017 – predictions”

The Six Nations is introducing bonus points for the first time. Here’s why it’s a terrible idea

Bonus points in rugby – the system whereby, alongside the four points awarded for a win and the two points awarded for a draw, an extra point is awarded to those who score four tries in a single game and those who lose by seven or less – were first introduced for the New Zealand domestic competition in 1995. Since then the system has been adopted by every major rugby competition around the world, both domestic and international. Every tournament, that is, except the Six Nations. Yesterday that changed: the Six Nation committee announced that it would be trialling bonus points for the 2017 tournament. Continue reading “The Six Nations is introducing bonus points for the first time. Here’s why it’s a terrible idea”

Team of the 6 Nations 2016

In the end the 2016 Six Nations might not have provided the same final day drama as last year’s instalment, but after a couple of stodgy opening weeks it at last flourished into a demonstration of open, high-scoring, attacking rugby. Here’s my stand-out team of the tournament.

1. Jack McGrath (Ireland)

Stepping in to fill the shoes of the injured Cian Healy, McGrath put in some hugely impressive performances, tackling hard and carrying effectively.

Honourable mention: Joe Marler (England) Continue reading “Team of the 6 Nations 2016”

Six Nations 2016 – predictions

The first Six Nations after a World Cup always carries with it the slight air of anti-climax – after weeks of watching thrillingly skillful Southern Hemisphere teams run riot a return to gritty Northern contests played out in the winter mud can be a little deflating. It’s a problem perhaps exacerbated this time round by the Northern teams’ less than glittering showings in the World Cup. But all that will be forgotten when the teams first run out and we yet again get down to the one of the oldest and finest rugby tournaments in the world.

What perhaps makes this year’s instalment particularly intriguing is the lack of a clear favourite. With that said, here’s my sure-to-be wrong attempt to predict this year’s final positions.

Continue reading “Six Nations 2016 – predictions”

Rugby World Cup 2015 – Team of the Tournament

Six weeks of glorious international rugby is over, and we are now to be deprived for more than three months. Sad times indeed. But it’s been a fantastic tournament, and we’ve seen some absolutely stunning performances. Here’s my best XV of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

1. Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)

There’s more to Argentina now than pure muscle, but Marcos Ayerza carried on their tradition of front-row ferocity with some truly brilliant performances. The All Black, Irish and Aussie scrums all crumbled in the face of him.

Honourable mentions: Scott Sio (Australia), WP Nel (Scotland) Continue reading “Rugby World Cup 2015 – Team of the Tournament”

Rugby World Cup 2015 – Team of the Pool Stages

So the pool stages are over and the knock-out stages are about to begin. It’s been fantastically competitive so far, and even amongst the twelve teams who have gone home, there were some real stand-out players over the course of the last month. This is my best XV of the pool stages – the players who consistently impressed over the first four games.

1. Scott Sio (Australia)

Not only has Scott Sio been exceptional in the scrum, he’s been a workhorse all around the field, averaging nine tackles a game. Just gets the place ahead of Fiji’s superb Campese Ma’afu. Continue reading “Rugby World Cup 2015 – Team of the Pool Stages”