Vulcan Voice: 6 Nations Predictions

February 5, 2022

With the Six Nations kicking off today with Ireland v Wales followed by Scotland v England, we thought it would be a prime opportunity to catch up with our resident rugby nause, and Sheffield Vulcans Podcast host, Charlie PM to share his predictions for how the championship will turn out.

After two years and 12 possibilities to correctly predict each team’s final Six Nations position, I’m currently flying high on one correct call per year (Italy finishing bottom). Let’s see if round three proves more fruitful.

6th: Italy

Italy have reason to be optimistic about the future. Garbisi and Varney are establishing themselves as a fully fledged international half-back pairing, Monty Ioane has the capability of scaring most international wingers and their back row has evolved into a well balanced unit in the post-Parisse era. That optimism would be misplaced, however, in thinking more than a wooden spoon is written in the stars of 2022.

Player to watch:
Michelle Lamaro – the new captain put in some huge performances last year and completes a tasty back row featuring Polledri and Negri. Keep your eye on the breakdown.

5th: Scotland

From this point on, it is worth noting that any of these five teams could finish in any combination of orders and I wouldn’t be surprised; such is the open nature of this championship.

Scotland have made unprecedented progress over the last decade, with last year’s memorable wins over England and France the crown jewels in Gregor Townsend’s successful reign. Their starting lineup is strong enough to stand toe-to-toe with most international outfits and come away successfully, however their strength in depth is what might hinder them. Modern rugby is often won off the bench, and Scotland’s substitutes don’t necessarily match up to their tournament counterparts. In addition, an injury to one or two key players will affect them more noticeably than other teams and I think this might make the difference come March.

Player to watch:
Darcy Graham – while the limelight may be shone more on his X-Factor colleagues in the back three (namely Stuart Hogg and Duhane Van Der Merwe), Graham has gradually cultivated a reputation as one of Scotland’s most dependable players and his safe hands will be vital to their success.

4th: England

Inconsistency is England’s barrier to success, and 2021 was a perfect example of this. A dazzling win against France met with a home defeat to Scotland, a nail-biting performance to pip the Springboks marred by a humbling in Cardiff.

Eddie Jones’ men are clearly capable of winning the Six Nations, as they have 3 times already during his reign, but staying at their best for the duration has become an increasing concern. The loss of Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes (England’s most senior players) to injury is a big blow to the leadership of the team – leadership that has been questioned of late. However, this could also provide opportunities for the likes of Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Tom Curry to step up to that mantra whilst also giving license for Marcus Smith and Freddie Steward to cement themselves as test match stars. It’s a close call and I could see it going either way, but my gut feeling is one of disappointment.

Player to watch:
Alex Dombrandt – while he might not get the minutes he desires, Lawes injury could open the doors to a reshuffle in the back row with the Quins 8 slotting in. Few players pick better lines off 10 than Dombrandt and he’s plenty to prove at test level – keep an eye out.

3rd: Wales

Wales are characteristically the toughest call to make in this tournament. Two years ago I had them down as strong title favourites before they limped to fifth, followed by an inexplicable championship last year that saw them come within inches of a grand slam and a comfortable victory.

Based on their average autumn performances, this selection might be slightly flattering… were it not for their habitual nature to save their best for the Six Nations. They love this tournament like no one else and will be keen on retaining their crown. However, they will have to do so in the absence of second row legend Alun Wyn Jones and faithful deputy Ken Owens as the leadership core of the squad. Dan Biggar has big shoes to fill if he wants to guide his team to a repetition of 2021 and will need the support of Ellis Jenkins, Adam Beard and others to push the group forward. Strong contenders, but not favourites in my eyes.

Player to watch:
Tomos Williams – Whilst Rhys Webb and Gareth Davies have been sporadically brilliant, Wales have been unable to find a consistently world class 9 since Mike Phillips retired. Tomos Williams could solve this puzzle, look out for his game management and quick play from the base.

2nd: Ireland

Ireland are in a strong position to make a real statement this year. They finished last year’s outing strongly and are fresh off the back of another memorable win over the All Blacks, something they are becoming increasingly accustomed with.

However, they have also become accustomed to disappointing follow ups to Autumn successes and will need to be wary of history repeating itself. The team is coming through the transition of Farrell’s early stages at the helm and we are seeing their stand out performers emerge. Hugo Keenan is emerging as the ultimate successor to the 15 jersey long held by Rob Kearney, Tadgh Beirne had possibly the biggest breakout season of 2021 and James Lowe finally came of age in green when they triumphed in November. They are a strong team from 1 to 15 and have the right mixture of talent and experience to mount a serious title challenge.

Player to watch:
Caelan Dorris – The versatile back row could prove to be an all-timer in the Irish colours if his recent appearances are anything to go by. With the surprise retirement of CJ Stander and waning influence of Peter O’Mahoney, Dorris will expect to feature alongside Jack Conan and Josh Van Der Flier in a back row to rival any of their northern hemisphere counterparts. Potential match winner.

1st: France

The law of averages dictates it will have to happen sooner or later… surely? I have no hesitation in saying that, at their best, France are the best international rugby team in the world. Their demolition job on New Zealand in December typified what this squad is capable of and what they should be striving to achieve. They share England’s bane of consistency, but I believe that will change this year.

It is still an outrageously young squad, with established leaders like Dupont and Marchant still only in their early-mid twenties. These players have now had multiple championships to mature and adapt their games and I think this could see them drive on to claim what their talent affords them. A good showing against Italy in week one should set them up nicely for a successful year and once again I find it hard to bet against them.

Player to watch:
Gabin Villière – A classy operator in every aspect of his game. With no real weaknesses, Villière balances France back line with finesse and accuracy, proving a nightmare for the opposition in both attack and defence. Watch for his kick chase and lines off 12, he often comes out of nowhere.

And there we have it! What are your predictions? Do you agree with mine? Be sure to let us know what you think and we might chat about it on the pod!

We’d like to thank Charlie PM for taking the time to share his predictions for this year’s Six Nations. Do you agree with him? Let us know by sending an email to and he will be happy to answer them in the next episode of the Sheffield Vulcans Podcast.