The Six Nations Championship gets underway on Friday evening as Wales host England in a tournament opener that promises to be explosive. In one of the tightest-looking Six Nations in years, any one of England, Wales, Ireland or – if they bother to turn up! – France could win it this year, and the opening fixtures are sure to give a decent idea of who could go all the way in this one, and perhaps in the World Cup later in the year.
Current champions Ireland should make short work of Italy in Rome on Saturday, and one would ordinarily suppose France should ease to victory over Scotland in Paris (though you should never bet your house on Les Bleus). As such, all eyes will be on the Friday night game as an injury-hit England side attempt to seek revenge for their defeat to the Welsh in Cardiff two years ago, a result which cost them the title (and the Grand Slam) as Wales topped the final table on points difference.
With England missing some key players including fly-half Owen Farrell, centres Brad Barritt and Kyle Eastmond and prop David Wilson, coach Stuart Lancaster has called in Dan Cole to sure up the scrum while Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph look set to start in the centre. Wales are the odds-on favourites to win this match though, and we think they will live up to the bookies’ expectations.
It is Ireland, however, who we feel will have enough to win their second Six Nations Championship in succession. In hosting both France and England, both matches we expect them to win, Ireland have a great chance of winning the tournament. It all rests on their trip to Cardiff on 14th March, but – as in 2013 when they won 30-22 in Wales – we fancy the Irish to do the business.
Whether you agree with our assessment or not, if you are planning to place a pre-tournament bet, you should be aware of the latest rugby betting offer from Betfair. If you place a bet of £10 or more on the outright winner of the Six Nations before it all kicks off on Friday night, you will be given a £5 free bet to use in the outright winner market for the Rugby World Cup.
This straightforward offer gives you a 50% bonus on a £10 bet and allows you to get an early £5 bet on the World Cup winner before the odds are changed to reflect the relative performances of the teams competing in the Six Nations. For us, it’s all about backing Ireland for the Six Nations, for the reasons mentioned. Whether they have enough to challenge for the World Cup itself remains to be seen, so you might be safer using your £5 free bet on South Africa to do the business in the summer.