6 Nations 2016 Betting Preview

The RBS Six Nations tournament gets under way at the weekend with France hosting Italy, England visiting Scotland and Ireland facing Wales in Dublin.

England

England-RugbyEngland have a new coach, a new captain and a host of new faces as they look to erase the memories of their miserable World Cup campaign, which ended early after Twickenham defeats to both Wales and Australia. Chris Robshaw retains his place in the squad, but Eddie Jones has opted for Dylan Hartley to lead the side, overlooking the Northampton hooker’s long list of on-field misdemeanours. His selection is intended to make England a nastier team – they were criticised for being “too nice” in their World Cup campaign – with Jones encouraging his players to get right in the faces of the opposition, making it difficult for them to settle. The squad contains plenty of talent, but under Stuart Lancaster there was a lack of harmony which became more apparent after their demise. If Jones can inspire that harmony, England can justify their favourites tag, and they did score ten more tries (18) than champions Ireland (8) last year. But beware, they have finished as runners-up in each of the last four 6 Nations and 6 of the last 8.

6 NATIONS TITLESLAST YEARTOP 2015 TRY SCORERBEST ODDS
4 (last in 2011)
2nd (8 points)
Jonathan Joseph (4)
7/4 (BetVictor)

 

BEST BET
Top Tryscoring Nation (3/1 Ladbrokes)

Wales

Wales-RugbyWales come into the tournament with a familiar feel. Warren Gatland will be coaching the side in his 9th championship, while for captain Sam Warburton it will be his fifth year as skipper. The long injury list which so hampered their chances at the World Cup is clearing, but even without a host of key players they were still able to go to Twickenham and beat England in September. While they may have three fixtures at home, Gatland’s men must travel to both Ireland and England and they will need a result in one of those games to claim the title this year. But as they showed just five months ago, it’s not beyond them, and they can kick-off their campaign with a win in Dublin, where they’ve won on 2 of their last 3 visits.

6 NATIONS TITLESLAST YEARTOP 2015 TRY SCORERBEST ODDS
4 (last in 2013)
3rd (8 points)
George North & Rhys Webb (2)
3/1 (Coral)

 

BEST BET
Six Nations Champions (3/1 Coral)

Ireland

Ireland-RugbyThere is a sense that a great era may be coming to an end for Ireland, the back-to-back winners. Beaten by England and Wales in the build-up to the World Cup, they crashed out to Argentina, suffering a hefty defeat. The inspirational Paul O’Connell has retired after more than a century of caps, while Peter O’Mahony, a key player in the last two title-winning sides, is injured. Add to that the fact that no Irish province has qualified for the knock-out stages of the Champions Cup and a third consecutive title looks to be unlikely.

6 NATIONS TITLESLAST YEARTOP 2015 TRY SCORERBEST ODDS
3 (Reigning champions)
1st (8 points)
Seán O’Brien (2)
7/2 (Paddy Power)

 

BEST BET
Bottom Two Finish (9/1 Paddy Power)

France

France-RugbyAfter finishing no better than fourth in the last four years, Les Blues new coach Guy Noves has spoken of wanting to see an improvement, rather than talking up his side as potential champions. Beaten by Ireland and thrashed by New Zealand at the World Cup (62-13), France lost to England, Wales and Ireland in last year’s tournament and with eight uncapped players, could they even pick up another wooden spoon, just as they did in 2013?

6 NATIONS TITLESLAST YEARTOP 2015 TRY SCORERBEST ODDS
5 (last in 2010)
4th (4 points)
Various (1)
6/1 (Stan James)

 

BEST BET
To Finish Bottom (90/1 Paddy Power)

Scotland

Scotland-RugbyIt’s a measure of Scotland’s progress under Vern Cotter that they are a best price of just 16/1 for this year’s title, when 12 months ago they went off as 33/1 outsiders. The Scots so nearly beat Australia at the World Cup, but their progress is meaningless if they are unable to break a 3-year losing run against European opposition other than Italy. They do look a superior side to that which picked up the wooden spoon in last year’s tournament, not least because they score far more points under Cotter than they did before his arrival and they could cause an upset – perhaps against England on Saturday.

6 NATIONS TITLESLAST YEARTOP 2015 TRY SCORERBEST ODDS
0
6th (0 points)
Mark Bennett (2)
16/1 (Paddy Power)

 

BEST BET
To beat England at Murrayfield on the opening weekend (3/1 Stan James)

Italy

Italy-RugbyItaly have lost 67 of their 80 matches since the first 6 Nations tournament in 2000 and although they have had their moments they still lack several key ingredients that would make them anything other than also-rans. They are by no means certainties for the wooden spoon, however, as they proved by beating Scotland in Edinburgh last February to earn fifth place. This year they might fancy their chances of a first ever win in Paris against a new look French side on the opening weekend of the championship. Don’t forget, they beat Les Bleus in both the 2011 and 2013 Six Nations – albeit those famous victories were in Rome.

6 NATIONS TITLESLAST YEARTOP 2015 TRY SCORERBEST ODDS
0
5th (2 points)
Luca Morisi & Giovanbattista Venditti (2)
1000/1 (Betfred)

 

BEST BET
To beat France at the Stade De France on the opening weekend (12/1 Boylesports)