DrivingMaul Rugby Predictions – 03 Apr 2021

Welcome to the new format for my rugby predictions. Instead of having separate posts for each competition I’m going to put all my predictions for the week in 1 post going forwards.

Womens 6 Nations Round 1

It’s a shortened Womens 6 Nations this year. Instead of the normal round robin format giving each team 5 games, the 6 teams have been split into 2 pools of 3. There’ll be 2 pool games followed by a round of Finals meaning a total of 3 games for each team. The consensus has been this is OK in a COVID year to make sure the tournament happens but it needs to revert to the traditional format going forward.

We start off the tournament with 2 easy predictions. England beat Scotland by 53 points last year and France beat Wales by 50. As I’ve said in the past, England and France are a level above the other countries at the moment and with their higher level of professionally contracted players are looking to maintain that gap for the immediate future.

England v Scotland England by 30 
France v Wales France by 30

Record So Far

It’s only Round 1 so there’s no “so far” yet.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Round 6 & AU Round 7

Before I get into the picks, you can remind yourself what happened last weekend with our Super Rugby Review Show.

Last weekend with 2 upsets in Super Rugby Aotearoa we learned that the hierarchy isn’t set in stone. However the one thing that does remain constant is that the Crusaders sit on top of the pile. It’s an easy to pick to go with the Saders especially at home. They beat the Landers by 13 points back in round 1 and the Landers are taking their time putting it all together. Wayne Smith said that he liked their attacking patterns and ability to keep the ball alive. However they have other issues that need sorting out. It’s taking time for Tony Brown’s plans to bed into this team. We will be bringing you post match reaction straight after the final whistle.

Whilst the form book might have been ripped up in New Zealand, over in Australia it remained constant. This led to Rob Penny being sacked by the Waratahs and his 2 assistant coaches being put in as co-head coaches for the rest of the season. I don’t think that Penny was the issue but more that he had $1 million removed from his playing budget. That’s not going to change this weekend and whilst the players will look to bounce back I can’t see it being enough to beat an efficient Brumbies.

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Moving on to Saturday and I’m a lot less certain about these 2 results. The Blues will be taking on the Canes who picked up their first win of the season over the Landers with Jordie scoring all their points. The Blues are coming off the back of 2 losses so confidence will have taken a dent. They should have won last weekend but their insistence to not kick points, especially in the first half, came back to haunt them. In the end though I can’t pick agains the Blues pack who should bully the Canes into submission. We will be bringing you post match reaction straight after the final whistle.

The Rebels went very close when they visited the Reds and now they get them at home. Also are the Reds due a a slip-up? Last weekend the Reds weren’t clinical and made many mistakes. If they take the Rebels as lightly then they will come a cropper. However I can’t see them taking the Rebels lightly and I’m backing the Reds firepower to be too much for the Rebels to handle even if it does go down to the last minute.

Crusaders v HighlandersCrusaders by 10
Waratahs v Brumbies Brumbies by 20 
Blues v HurricanesBlues by 3
Rebels v Reds Reds by 3

Record So Far

17 from 22 or 77%, I had a shocking weekend last weekend as Super Rugby Aotearoa decided to have a couple of upsets.

Check out how my picks are going v the Bookie.

Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16

What a mess this tournament has been. Trying to run a tournament across multiple countries that’s spread out across the season during a pandemic was always a big ask, some might even say foolish…. However TV money rules even more than it normally does at the moment and so the show must go on no matter how messy it looks.

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I was surprised to see that Leinster have not beaten Toulon before. When you look at the dates of those games though it’s from the period when Toulon won the tournament 3 years on the bounce. I think that Leinster will be ending this losing streak this weekend though. This is not the same vintage Toulon side.

La Rochelle should beat Gloucester everyday and twice on Sundays, they are sat second in the Top14. My only worry is that they will send over a very weak side as their focus is on not getting COVID and going well in the Top14. That’s why I’m backing Wasps as they are a much better side than Gloucester and so if Clermont do “rest” anyone Wasps will be able to take advantage.

Toulouse is one of the few French sides that takes Europe very seriously, if they pick a full strength side then Munster are in for a very tough time of it. Thomond Park isn’t the fortress that it used to be and I can see the French side getting the victory. I’m going with the champions and losing finalists from last year both having too much at home for the visiting teams.

Bristol are having a cracking season and I can see them getting the victory on the road against Bordeaux who are fifth in the Top14 and will probably be prioritising that. The final game feels like the winner is only going to be around 1 more round so does it really matter who wins it? I’m going with the home side as I think that Sale will be saving all their resources for the Premiership and Scarlets don’t need to worry about a domestic tournament.

Leinster Rugby v Toulon Leinster Rugby by 7 
Gloucester Rugby v La Rochelle La Rochelle by 3 
Wasps v ASM Clermont Auvergne Wasps by 3 
Munster Rugby v Toulouse Toulouse by 5 
Exeter Chiefs v Lyon Exeter Chiefs by 3 
Racing 92 v Edinburgh Racing 92 by 5 
Bordeaux Begles v Bristol Bristol by 3 
Scarlets v Sale Sharks Scarlets by 3

Record So Far

14 from 20 or 70%, I’m going surprising well so far in this one! Not very confident in the future mind you.

European Rugby Challenge Cup Round of 16

This is even more of a mess than the Champions Cup with a mixture of Challenge Cup teams and Champions Cup teams that weren’t good enough to make the last 16 in that tournament. Let’s be honest, who’s taking this seriously and who’s not is anyones guess. Normally we say that once sides make it to the knockout rounds of the Challenge Cup they start to take it seriously but this is a COVID impacted season…..

From the top then, Bath are a better side than Zebre and all things equal should comfortably win this. Irish v Blues is an interesting one. I’ve gone with the Blues as their season is over and so they can concentrate on this whilst Irish still have the Premiership to consider. However without relegation will they actually prioritise this???

Glasgow have been really poor this season and whilst Montpellier haven’t been great and might not want to be in this competition, I just can’t see them losing at home. French sides really don’t like losing at home. Ospreys finished the Pro14 season with some form whilst Flacons have been in a bit of a slump.

Benetton have been poor but I think Agen will send over their 4ths as they really do need to concentrate on the Top14 and will essentially throw this game.

Saints have been a bit up and down but are going OK this season and I think will tip over a Dragons team that’s still got a long way to go. Similarly Tigers have been going better than I expected this season and at home I think will have enough to see off Connacht. If this had been in Ireland I’d have called it the other way.

Finally if Ulster are taking this seriously and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t with the Pro14 over and having had a rest week, then they should be in with a great chance of taking this tournament. That obviously means they need to get past Quins which might be their hardest task of all. Quins are sat in fourth in the Premiership so will they be thinking more of domestic matters???

Zebre Rugby Club v Bath Rugby Bath Rugby by 5 
London Irish v Cardiff Blues Cardiff Blues by 3 
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors Montpellier by 5 
Ospreys v Newcastle Falcons Ospreys by 7 
Benetton Rugby v Agen Benetton Rugby by 5 
Dragons v Northampton Saints Northampton Saints by 3 
Leicester Tigers v Connacht Rugby Leicester Tigers by 5 
Harlequins v Ulster Rugby Ulster Rugby by 3

Record So Far

8 from 12 or 67%, doesn’t sound great but the SuperBru average is 49%! Clearly this tournament has been wacky.

MLR Round 3

I have to say that there were a lot of tight picks this weekend. I know that the Warriors are 2 form 2 but I’m still struggling to pick them. The Free Jacks got a 0-32 win last weekend and will be full of confidence going into their first home game of the season so I think they’ll cause the Warriors first loss.

Old Glory are tracking well with a draw and a win. That includes a win over Atlanta who beat Old Glory’s opponents this weekend in the opening round. Surely that means that Old Glory are better than the Arrows? My only concern with this one is that the Arrows were expected to go well pre-season and they are going to click at some point you’d think.

The Legion bounced back from their opening round defeat to win on the road last weekend in Austin. But with Austin struggling early on how much can we read into that? After Atlanta won in the opening round they were brought back to earth last weekend. It’s hard to read but I still think Legion are going to be one of the sides to beat this season so I’m narrowly backing them.

Austin have lost their opening 2 games but it’s only been by a combined 5 points! Houston on the other hand have beaten the the 2 times champions in Seattle only to be nilled by the Free Jacks the following weekend. What to make of Houston??? I have to back Austin to get their first win of the season as I have no idea what Houston side will turn up.

New England Free Jacks v Utah Warriors New England Free Jacks by 3 
Old Glory DC v Toronto Arrows Old Glory DC by 7 
Rugby ATL v San Diego Legion San Diego Legion by 3 
Austin Gilgronis v Houston SaberCats Austin Gilgronis by 3

Record So Far

5 from 12 or 42%, after only getting 1 right in round 1 I was happy with 4 from 6 in round 2.

Varsity Cup Round 1

Let’s be honest I really don’t know much about the Varsity Cup. I’ve been playing Varsity Cup SuperBru for the last couple of years so I’m starting to recognise the sides but I’m picking on historic results not on the sides this season.

Take these with a pinch of salt and if you know better than me please let me know and maybe you could write this section going forwards?

CUT Ixias v UJ UJ by 3 
UP Tuks v Wits UP Tuks by 7 
NWU Eagles v NMU Madibaz NWU Eagles by 15 
UWC v UFS Shimlas UWC by 3 
UCT Ikeys v Maties Maties by 10

Record So Far

It’s only Round 1 so there’s no “so far” yet.

Please do let me know what you think of the new format.

2 thoughts on “DrivingMaul Rugby Predictions – 03 Apr 2021

Add yours

  1. Hi Paul, I like the new format – easier to cross reference between Driving Maul picks and SuperBru matches.

    I am not a guru on the Varsity Cup teams but I notice that there is a consistent strength among four teams over the years and this has led me to favour Maties and Wits followed by Tuks and UJ. Round 1 will undoubtedly straighten me out.

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