Before the start of the tournament we gave our predictions about the outcome of the Six Nations Championship. Almost halfway in, where do we stand and how do our predictions relate to the way the tournament has been unfolding. What did we learn from the games thus far? Did we notice things the figures won’t tell us? Time for an extensive update!
Before we claim the fame as a sportsbook casino, we’d like to point out that ‘our’ predictions were that of a public poll found in a Facebook group. We would not advise you to bet on anything ourselves. We are here to provide context and share opinions. Having said that, here was the prediction prior to the tournament:
Three rounds is, this is what the current board looks like:
At first sight, it appears that it’s easier to predict a losing team over a winning one. Since we have been correct about Italy and Scotland thus far. The biggest surprises are possibly the current standing of last year’s winner Wales and France. Although, we did discuss that Wales is going to a transformation and it was expected that this was a possible result for the southerners. What we certainly did not anticipate is the role that the Coronavirus is playing, and most likely will continue to play.
In the match England – Wales, Mako Vunipola was absent due to self isolation in fear of spreading the virus after flying from Hong Kong. Even worse, the match between Ireland and Italy has been postponed indefinitely.
Can France keep this up?
With France surprisingly on the lead, we ask ourselves if they can win it all. Having beaten their direct competition for the trophy (England) already, we would not be surprised at this point. But how does this young squad (youngest of all teams) manage to play with such control and confidence?
The surface-level statistics show a remarkable insight in the strategy of the French. They are the highest point- and try-scorers in the tournament, but simultaneously the team with the lowest possession (43%) and the second lowest in territory (46%). The French, in other words, are efficient and ruthless as well as patient. It is the young Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack, the half-back pairing, that push Les Bleus from 0-60 and back, depending on the needs.
Attacks are decisive and swift. Five tries off first-phase ball is what the other teams have put together. But it’s not just hit and run that they excel in. The French have also mastered the art of slowing games down when needed.
With an average attacking ruck speed of 4.5 sec, it is by far the highest in the tournament. That is with just 90 attacking rucks under 3-second – which is the least of any team in the tournament – this shows that France’s forward strategy does not generally depend on quickly taking opponents through the phases.