The final Weekend of 6N action and the panel are far from a consensus on anything. There is a lot of tension as rugby knowledge, historical facts and nationalist feelings are blurring judgement. Just to review, the Panel is comprised of West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Ireland’s quick-witted fly-half (that’s redundant) Kevin Fegan, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, feisty French #8 Pyk O’Kallapfer, contrived Kiwi Hoodlum Johnathan Wicklow Barberie and England’s knight of the realm Jamie Loyd. This Six Pack’s picks are as reliable as your favorite six pack of cheap beer; they cost you dearly the next day. [Ba doom cha!] Credentials be damned, they each pick the winners of each match and a Pick Of The Week, for which they provide the margin of victory. So, without further ado, here are the much ballyhooed 6 Nations Picks & Previews from our dubious Expert Panel…
ITALY V IRELAND: Amazing number of sub-plots. We have the annual Catholic Bowl: a new Pope & match in Rome… BOD in his last 6N game (possibly), St. Paddy’s Day weekend and a possible Wooden Spoon decider!
BLABER: Ireland may be in bad form and poorly coached, BOD will finish his 6N career on top and Ireland will win.
FEGAN: Ireland are battered and bruised and stumbling over the finish line of the tournament but in BOD’s last game and probably Declan Kidney’s (much to the relief of Mister Blaber), they have enough left in the tank to win against Italy.
Pyk: The Squadra Azurra is very surprising. They were quite unlucky last weekend at Twickenham, and might get a short win in Rome.
YEATS: New Pope and all, Italy still loses this one. And their pack will be saying The Rosary by games end.
JWB: As mentioned, this could be Brian O’Driscoll’s last match for Ireland. That, and only an eejit would pick against the Green on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
LOYD: Italy are good, Irish are angry. Irish should sneak home even away.
WALES V ENGLAND: This one is for all the marbles! Wales are looking to be back to back as 6N Champions, England looking for its first Grand Slam since 2003. In’03, most of this England squad were entering or about to enter their teenage years. History says Wales finish 1st or 4th and England have never won a GS when they had to face Wales in Wales. Oh baby! It doesn’t get any bigger.
BLABER: Wales really want this more and seemed fired up for it. England have shown they have the grit to win but don’t seem to dominate. The lack of extra edge for England will see Wales win the title.
FEGAN: Despite England’s physical domination of their opponents throughout the tournament, I think that Welsh pride and guile will deny them the grand slam. Mike Phillips to be the difference.
Pyk: I can’t decently pick the English! The Welsh will do their best to prevent this fraud of an English team to claim the Grand Slam.
YEATS: Red’s pack play has been improving every match and will hand England an upset.
JWB: Three weeks ago, England would have been the pick. But after stinking up the pitch against Italy and Parisse (who like the new Pope is from Argentina), The Limeys are do for a blemish and The Leeks are playing at Millennium Stadium. Martin Johnson told of a fan running at their moving team bus and head-butting it in Cardiff. Nuff said.
LOYD: A tough match against Italy will have woken up the English side, training this week will no doubt have been incredibly intense. It will be close, but England have the firepower to see them through to the Slam.
FRANCE V SCOTLAND: Scotland is looking for their highest finish since this contest went from 5N to 6N. Meanwhile France is trying to avoid the Wooden Spoon for the first time since it became 6N. Though it is debateable considering their apathy in most of this years matches, we know the French know how to cook with a wooden spoon.
BLABER: Frog the French! Blaber is a Scottish name, so cmon’ the Scots!
FEGAN: This one could go either way but despite some ridiculous team selections and poor substitutions by the French management, they should have enough talent at home to sneak past an improved Scottish side.
Pyk: Les Bleus will win – maybe in an ugly fashion – but they’ll win. At last. (sigh) Sad that Michalak is starting and Médard isn’t playing fullback.
YEATS: French can’t put two halves together and and will be Les Miserables again this week.
JWB: The ONLY reason Les Bleus will win is because they are home. Scotland has truly surprised me this tourney, but if the French can kick their lazy, whining, laissez-fair bottoms into gear for at least 65 minutes, la crème should rise to the top. They win on talent but it’s Scotland that shows the heart.
LOYD: A gutsy comeback last week will have the French feeling pretty confident about life, the Scots could well find themselves on the wrong side of a kicking at the Stade de France.
And there you have it. Lets get it on! Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @RugbyWrapUp, @JunoirBlaber, @Declan Yeats, @Mathew Drew Turner and @Ebstide52, respectively.