If you see the score 18 – 11 and immediately associate it with the Six Nations Championship then, like the Figure It Out team, you must be (or know someone who is) a rugby fan. You’re probably looking forward to 5 o’clock this coming Saturday, when the England and Wales rugby teams meet in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium to decide the winner of this year’s Championship. We are, so we decided to look back over the previous thirteen Six Nations tournaments to see if we could gather any clues about who would win this time
For anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about here – the Six Nations tournament ends this weekend. Six national rugby teams – England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – have all played four matches and have one final team to meet; with all the games to be played on Saturday. So far in this year’s competition, England have won all of their matches and their remaining opponent, Wales, are the only team which could challenge them for the title. England are playing for their first “Grand Slam” win (i.e. to win the trophy by winning against every other team) in a decade. Wales are playing to keep their title, which they won with a Grand Slam last year. The game is at the Millennium stadium, Wales’ home ground.
Looking back over the history of the Six Nations, there isn’t much between Wales and England in terms of wins and Grand Slam titles.
England have won one more Six Nations than Wales (4-3), but Wales have two more Grand Slam titles than England (3-1)
France, clearly the strongest team since the Five Nations tournament became Six, are already out of the running, as they are now at the bottom of this year’s league table.
So the overall results from previous years don’t really give us any clues for this year, so we looked at some other statistics.
England’s previous ‘away’ results against Wales
Over the duration of the Six Nations tournament England’s results at the Millennium Stadium have been mixed. They have won three out of the six games which they have played away against Wales. The only final match game which they played, (in 2007 when neither team was competing for the title) England lost.
Looking further back over the past forty years and twenty games played at the Welsh home ground, the news does not look good for England, who have lost by far the majority of those final matches played away.
However, as these losses were typically so long ago that most of today’s players were not old enough to even play, they are unlikely to be a helpful measure for anticipating Saturday’s results. A single clue maybe, but not yet enough.
When the final match played is between the two strongest teams of the competition
So far in the history of the Six Nations, the strongest two teams of the competition have met four times in the final game, and on each occasion the team which was ahead in the table going into the final game won the tournament.
When the team is “on” for the grand slam victory
There have been three occasions in the Six Nations tournaments when the team which were “on” for the Grand Slam did not get it. On each of these occasions, the team which failed to win that final crucial match was England.
From this analysis we conclude:
1. England are unlikely to win away at the Millennium Stadium in their final match of the tournament, having lost 6 out of 7 final matches at the Wales home ground;
2. England are unlikely to win the Grand Slam having lost it in 3 out of 4 attempts in the Six Nations tournament
3. England are likely to win the tournament, as the strongest team going into the final game has won overall in every game where the two strongest teams meet in the final match.
Our prediction then is that Wales will win, but by less than 7 points
Now we wait in suspense, hoping for an exceptionally exciting game tomorrow.
We hope you’re waiting with us, equally intrigued, to see if our prediction is right. If rugby is not your thing, then maybe the start of the F1 season in São Paulo or the Figure Skating World Championships in Ontario can brighten your weekend. Enjoy the sports.