Rugby

The Somewhat Early 2022 Six Nations Standings Predictions

The Somewhat Early 2022 Six Nations Standings Predictions

It seems to be said every year that the next Six Nations is going to be particularly interesting, but this time it genuinely does feel different, with five of the six teams very capable of beating each other on any given day.

Scotland and Wales will pose serious threats, with Wales coming in as defending champions, and Scotland with their knack of taking big Six Nations scalps and their maverick duo of Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.

Ireland, France, and England, all have legitimate claims to be the best side in the world right now after going unbeaten during the Autumn Internationals, and taking down all of the Rugby Championship sides.

It has to be stressed however that the Southern Hemisphere sides were at the end of a long season. But the manner of the some of the November victories, in particular the Irish and French wins over the All Blacks, suggests that are slim margins between the top five ranked sides in the world.

With the Six Nations kicking off on February 5th, we predict how the final standing might look after the last game on March 19th.

1. France

They are the clear favourites for next years Six Nations, mainly for having dismantled New Zealand in such a commanding fashion, but also given that they are hosting England and Ireland at home in the Stade de France.

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There is even more upside to this French team given the constant improvement of their youthful squad, one which includes players such as Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack, and Gael Fickou, who will look to go down as all-time greats.

The usual ‘con’ associated with France, and French teams in general, is their ability to capitulate and lose their heads under pressure. However, this looks less of a problem for their current side, with their most stable coaching team since the La Porte days, lead by Fabien Galthié.

2. England

Purely based on Autumn performances, Ireland would be second favourites, but given that Ireland must travel to Twickenham next year, the English have a slight upper-hand.

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Since taking over in 2015 Eddie Jones has yet to lead his side to two poor Six Nations in a row, and given that they finished fifth in last year’s edition with only two wins, history would suggest that they will have a strong showing.

Compared to Ireland, the English have more room for improvement and are not as close to their peak, which bodes well for them. Whether they will make those improvements come February remains to be seen, but it is likely that they will.

With Marcus Smith improving with each showing, Manu Tuilagi back in the fold, and a world-class pack with Tom Curry, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinkler and Sam Underhill, England are rightfully seen by the bookies as second favourites to take home the title.

3. Ireland

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There had been previous glimpses of the intricate attacking structures and width Ireland played with during the Autumn, but for Farrell’s game plan to come together so perfectly was something only the players and coaches foresaw.

Ireland’s Autumn form provides them with a more than solid base to build from. They will likely carry this form over to the Six Nations, pretty much guaranteeing them a strong showing and at least a third place finish.

A pertinent question going into the Six Nations is how much room is there left to improve? The All Blacks also showed that they need to be more clinical, and the players themselves have spoken about their willingness to get better.

However, England look like they are further from the finished article, and if they can take their game to the next level it may prove to be too much for Ireland when the two face off in Twickenham on March 12th.

With nothing between the top three sides on paper, home advantage will more than likely prove to be the deciding factor.

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4. Wales

It is also a tight call between Scotland and Wales for the fourth best side in the Championship. Wales generally play above themselves in the Six Nations, while Scotland have history in recent tournaments of bottling games they looked favourites to win. Wales also have home advantage.

Fans have been quick to degrade their 2021 title, suggesting that were it not for red cards they would have lost to both Ireland and Scotland. This is of course conjecture, and there have been many Championships in the past decided by very fine margins.

Wales’ Autumn form left a lot to be desired but they were in the midst of an injury crisis, and their victory over the Wallabies highlighted their ability to grind out tough wins, which sets them apart from the Scots.

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5. Scotland

Possibly the strongest side Scotland have had in recent memory, but it comes in a year where the four teams above them are stronger, and in Wales’ case just as strong but with home advantage.

Their victory over Australia was commendable, but their suffocating defeat to South Africa and narrow win over a mis-firing Japanese side were not.

With that being said, they have taken scalps off Ireland, England, and France in recent years, and will be targeting their home games against the English and the French, with victories in either of those games may push them above the Welsh.

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6. Italy

By far the easiest prediction to make, as it looks guaranteed to be another tough year for the Italians. They may also do worse than last year’s -184 points difference such is the form of the other five teams.

They are still in building mode, and with relatively strong showings in recent U20 Six Nations, blooding future talent is the best they can hope for in 2022.

See Also: Ireland's Best Novembers And How They Fared In The Following Six Nations

Autumn Internationals

Colman Stanley

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