Wales are predicted to win just two Six Nations matches this year, with England sweeping the title for a second year in a row.
Those are the estimations of the QBE Rugby Predictor, which has simulated the tournament 10,000 times and produced results for 150,000 matches.
The scientists have based their predictions on analysis of ‘scores, results, past events and incidents over the last 10 years using a wide range of variables including the number of tries, kicks and conversions scored by the teams, the caps of each captain, latest world ranking and home and away advantage’.
The outcome has led experts to predict that Wales have just a 13% chance of a successful tournament.
The margins of defeat are heartbreakingly small, with one-point defeats expected at home to Ireland and England.
Wales are predicted to only enjoy victories over Scotland and Italy – the bare minimum in many fans’ eyes – with the campaign getting off to a losing start against Ireland on Sunday.
One thing the numbers don’t seem to place much value on is current form, which could explain why the French are not more fancied to cause problems in this tournament, according to the predictor, when their recent performances suggest they’ll have a huge say.
Sam Harrison, Managing Director of Insurance at QBE Europe, says: “The pandemic caused major disruption to last year’s tournament with first the postponement of games and then later the suspension of the whole tournament.
“The teams will be more aware of the unpredictable nature of the world we are in and just as we advise businesses to prepare for any outcome, the teams should once again be prepared for the unlikely to become a reality.”
Here are the predictions of the number crunchers…
Outright Championship winner
England 53%, Ireland 24%, Wales 13%, France 6%, Scotland 4%, Italy 0%
Grand Slam winner
None 67%, England 19%, Ireland 9%, Wales 4%, France 1%, Scotland 0%, Italy 0%
Triple Crown winner
None 50%, England 23%, Ireland 13%, Wales 11%, Scotland 3%
Full tournament score predictions
Italy 12-31 France
England 30-18 Scotland
Wales 20-21 Ireland
England 50-11 Italy
Scotland 17-20 Wales
Ireland 22-14 France
Italy 10-41 Ireland
Wales 21-22 England
France 24-17 Scotland
Italy 9-36 Wales
England 34-15 France
Scotland 19-24 Ireland
Scotland 33-16 Italy
Ireland 20-23 England
France 21-19 Wales
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk