Six Nations predictions

Analysis: What will happen in the Six Nations?

With the 20th iteration of the Six Nations now under way, we’ve analysed the data from the previous 19 tournaments to work out what we should expect in each round. We’ve also analysed the squads from the last four World Cup years to see how much Six Nations performances predict about the sport’s showpiece event in Japan later this year.

What can history tell us about this year’s tournament?

Home advantage is more decisive than in other sports, with over three in every five matches being won by the hosts, and in a tournament with an odd number of fixtures it can affect who ends up with the trophy. Of the 19 previous six-team iterations, 12 have been won by a side with three of their games at home, which is good news for England and Scotland this year. Coincidentally, the second round of games sees both at home and it’s the only round in which all 19 previous champions triumphed, so it could well be decisive.

England and Scotland meet at Twickenham in what could well be a title decider in the final round of games, but at the very least should be an entertaining game, with an average of 53 points scored in the history of the competition. Of all the fixture combinations in this year’s tournament, only Italy’s regular humblings on English soil see more points and tries scored, but if you want a feisty encounter then you’re better off waiting for Ireland’s trip to Rome – which is the only encounter that sees more than one card on average.

Does Six Nations success win you a spot at the World Cup?

When it comes to making the World Cup squad, first-team regulars at the Six Nations definitely have the edge in the selection process. More than four in every five players who featured in a Six Nations starting line-up during the last four World Cup years were among the first 15 names on the team sheet at least once in the autumn, and over half did so at least three times. Increase this to three Six Nations starts and almost nine in every 10 players go on to walk out onto the pitch at the following World Cup.

Scoring a try is also a sure-fire way to keep yourself at the front of your head coach’s mind: of the 87 who have done so in the last four World Cup years, only eight didn’t make a World Cup start that year. Of the 10 players who scored at least three Six Nations tries in this period, only one didn’t start at least three World Cup matches in the tournament that followed.

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