Rugby is a much-loved part of life at Oakham and given the School has such a high number of students and alumni who achieve great things on the pitch, we asked a selection of our rugby aficionados for their predictions for this year’s Six Nations Tournament, ahead of this weekend’s opening matches.
For Lewis Moody, Old Oakhamian (96) and member of England’s Rugby World Cup winning squad, “I think it will be a tight Six Nations this year: Ireland and England is a mouth-watering game for the first weekend, which on current form and at home you have to think Ireland should edge. That said, England have a strong side, especially with the return of Billy Vunipola and this will bolster their confidence.”
“Wales and France will be another cracking opening game, which sees both sides having a resurgent spell. I believe the Welsh will edge out the French at home. Scotland will be too strong for Italy, which should see Scotland start their campaign off on a positive note.”
Hamish Watson, Old Oakhamian (10) and member of Scotland’s current side (sadly ruled out of this year’s competition due to injury) has gone so far as to predict the scores for the opening matches: France to win against Wales 22-16, Scotland to beat Italy 34-17 and England to beat Ireland 16-10.
According to Oakham School’s Director of Rugby, Andy Rice, and Director of Coaching, Ian Smith, the following players will be key to their sides’ success:
· “England: Billy Vunipola – how we’ve missed his impact.
· Ireland: Conor Murray – can he steer Ireland to a Grand Slam?
· Scotland: Finn Russell – off the back of excellent form; he leads Scotland’s blistering attack.
· Wales: In the absence of Warburton (retired), can Tipuric finally step up to the #1 7?
· Italy: Parisse – in his last Six Nations competition, he will be looking to end on a bang (drop goal winner predicted).
· France: 19-year old Ntamack is charged with leading the French – interesting times ahead!”
As far as this weekend’s winners are concerned, Headmaster Nigel Lashbrook says: “I would go for England, France and Scotland.” Meanwhile current pupil Sam, who will be playing for Wales in Sunday’s U20 Six Nations opener, has picked Wales, Scotland and Ireland as this weekend’s winning sides.
Beyond this weekend, below are some predictions on the final order. Let’s see how they get on!
Former England Sevens star, and Old Oakhamian Mark Meenan (00):
Andy Rice and Ian Smith: