This is the big match of the weekend, and one of the biggest rivalries in the tournament. England v Wales. It is sure to be quite a game, but sadly for the Welsh, we don’t predict it to be a close one, with the current forecast heavily in England’s favour – the final score predicted to be 36 – 17 to the home side.
For any outraged Welsh fans that are reading this, furiously calling up the final score in last week’s demolition of Scotland, we apologise. Our only defence is that recently, England have been very strong at home, and Wales have not been very good away. One result will not unduly affect the predictions, but should Wales begin to record more victories of this sort then their stock will rise quickly, rest assured.
[POST PUBLISHING EDIT: It is worth noting that a brief look back at what our predictions would have been for the 2008, 2012 and 2015 Twickenham fixtures (that Wales won) would appear to also be for English victories. So there is definitely something ‘beyond’ the numbers in this fixture for the Welsh, in that they perform above what they would be expected to. It is hard to quantify exactly, but this could be a first evidence in the statistics for the Anglo-Welsh rivalry!]
England and Wales have met 130 times previously with the balance slightly in England’s favour, 61 wins to Wales 57, with 12 draws. Since 2010 however, England have been the dominant side winning eight of the 12 matches played between the two. Wales won’t feel too hard done by though, and will probably feel they have won the ‘big’ matches recently, triumphing both in their memorable World Cup group stage clash and the 2013 Six Nations finale where they inflicted their heaviest ever defeat on England to snatch the tournament in the final game.
After a dominant display in Italy last week, England will expect to win this game on their return to Twickenham. Currently England are on a 15 match unbeaten streak at home, their last defeat there being to Australia in 2015 during the World Cup. In the Six Nations this run stretches back even further, to 2012 (14 matches), when they were last beaten by Wales.
We feel it is unlikely that, despite injuries and Wales’ performance against Scotland last week, England will let this home winning streak end.
The margin of Wales’ victory against Scotland surprised many (although Warren Gatland is said to have predicted it), with the Welsh scoring 4 tries and securing a bonus point in the rout. However, Wales will need to be much better to win in Twickenham against an England side that will give far fewer opportunities than the Scots.
However, (and at the risk of undermining our own algorithm!) Warren Gatland’s and Wales’ record in Twickenham is much better than than our model would suggest is possible, with the Welsh having won three times there to England’s six under the Kiwi’s tenure. Trying to reverse-engineer predictions is difficult, but a preliminary run suggests that in each of these three Welsh wins the English should have run out comfortable winners, so there is definite hope for the Welsh. It is worth pointing out however, than none of the margins of victories were as wide as this weekend’s prediction.
If there is any team that can get up for a game at Twickenham and upset the predicted norms, it is the Welsh. Personally, we feel this game will be closer than the 19 point margin predicted, but still an English win.