x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Rugby's black sheep

Sonny Wool the psychic sheep is predicting the outcome of Rugby World Cup matches in New Zealand. But does he really deserve credit for predicting a victory over Tonga?

Anything football can do, rugby can do better. And that was before the action on the field even started.

Paul the Octopus suctioned the media spotlight during last year's football World Cup finals in South Africa after correctly predicting a series of results as well as identifying Spain as the champions. And now comes "Sonny Wool", the psychic sheep trusted with predicting the outcomes of the Rugby World Cup matches in New Zealand that kicked off on Friday.

Sonny is already one for one after "predicting" that New Zealand would beat Tonga in the opening match of the tournament by choosing between two containers of food marked with the flags of the countries.

Some will say that the animal was hardly sticking his neck out by tipping the favourites - it doesn't take a psychic sheep to predict that the hosts will do well this year.

And this is not Sonny's first experience as an oracle: as a lamb, his owner claims, he would successfully predict when it was going to rain. But this is a whole new ball game. The All Blacks have often faltered at the World Cup's later stages despite being generally recognised, pound for pound, as the planet's best rugby-playing nation.

South Africa, Australia or even Argentina may yet upset the odds. We will see if Sonny has the chops to turn against the flock.