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Wales are currently ranked 7th in the world and had a fairly mixed 2017 winning just six of their eleven matches. Two good wins over Ireland and South Africa were the highlights of the Welsh year, with some poor losses against Scotland and France, and laboured wins over Samoa and Georgia the lows. How will they fare come the 6 Nations this year?
Wales’ fixtures are mixed, and should allow them a solid tournament, but a difficult one to win, or indeed place highly at. They have the two most difficult fixtures, Ireland and England, away from home and our algorithm, unfortunately, gives them little chance of winning these matches. However, with Scotland, Italy and France at home, they should have a reasonable chance of at least two, and potentially three wins.
Wales’ opening fixture against Scotland is undoubtedly their closest fixture, with the current predictions giving Wales the slight edge. Should they win this match they can quite reasonably expect to get three wins from the tournament, and will be in with a shout of finishing third in the tournament, an improvement on last years fifth.
[N.B Interestingly, our model suggests a reasonable chance of Wales winning three fixtures and Scotland two, but Scotland finishing above Wales on bonus points. An incredible bet for those willing to take a punt on some long odds.]
Wales have fairly significant injury problems at the moment however, with Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau and Jonathon Davies the biggest names to be missing at least the opening fixture. Given the already tight nature of this fixture against Scotland, this is less than good news for the Welsh as they will need a full complement to take on a resurgent Scotland.
This is sure to be a nail biter to kick off the 6 Nations, and one that could have repercussions for future matches – definitely the one to watch for the opening weekend. Both teams will need this fixture to boost their 6 Nations chances, bring some early momentum and build confidence for following matches. Squeaky bum time.