Six Nations Rugby Union Betting 2018

With the Autumn Internationals of 2017 fading from the memory, rugby union’s Northern Hemisphere prepares for the traditional start to the year with one of the sport’s oldest tournaments. The Six Nations is back with England looking to defend their trophy and the first round of matches for 2018 starts on February 3.

With due respect to Italy, the remaining five countries will all feel that they have a chance this year after some positive results in 2017 but what do the online bookies make of it all?

Front Runners

Reigning Champions England head the outright market and Eddie Jones’ side can be picked up at best odds of 4/5 with the majority of outlets including Paddy Power and BetBright. After an embarrassing exit in the last World Cup, the team has been transformed under Jones and the Australian coach will expect nothing less than another Six Nations victory in 2018.

The English may have taken the overall trophy but their hopes of securing a Grand Slam were ended by Ireland who defeated Jones’ men in the last round of matches twelve months ago. On that basis, the Irish could be a good option for the title this year at a top price of 11/4 with Winner Sports.

Challengers

Gregor Townsend

Scotland have enjoyed a far more positive twelve months and having upset the odds against strong opposition on a number of occasions towards the end of 2017, Gregor Townsend’s men are third favourites to win the Six Nations this season at a best figure of 11/1 with Stan James. Many bookies also have the Welsh at that same 11/1 price while elsewhere, Boylesports have a top price on Wales at 16/1.

Those figures leave France at best odds of 20/1 with Stan James while Italy are left to bring up the rear in every sense at their top price of 1500/1 with Betway. Those are the prices so let’s look at form and likely make up of the squads to see if we can pick a winner.

Autumnal Delights

We have recent form to check on thanks to the round of autumn internationals that were completed in December. All six countries were involved with some faring much better than others.

Six Nations favourites England began by grinding out a win against a physical Argentinian side before comfortably brushing aside Australia. The Wallabies aren’t currently a great force in world rugby but the nature of the 30-6 victory sets the side up nicely for a tilt at the Northern Hemisphere’s Premier trophy.

England’s autumn schedule was concluded with a rather more routine, 48-14 victory over Samoa.

As for second favourites Ireland, they were particularly impressive in their autumn opener which ended with a 38-3 thumping of South Africa on November 11. From there, however, things were tighter with a narrow, 23-20 victory against a spirited Fijian side before Joe Schmidt’s men ended with a similar result to England when they overcame a tough Argentinean unit.

Impressive

Perhaps the most impressive display from any Northern Hemisphere side was delivered by Scotland who recorded an emphatic win of their own against the visiting Australians. There were perhaps some mitigating circumstances – Sekope Kepu became the first Wallaby to be sent off in a game since 1987 – but the Scots broke a number of records in their 53-24 victory.

Scotland had also run the mighty All Blacks close, losing by 17 points to 22 and they are a ‘dark horse’ tip for many punters ahead of the Six Nations.

In contrast, the French lost heavily to New Zealand and were unconvincing during their autumn international run while Italy suffered routine defeats and while they have upset some of the Six Nations sides in the past, it will be some time before they threaten the top of the table.

That just leaves Wales who actually lost to Australia in their opening game and that was very much a poor result when put into context. Their performance against lowly Canada produced little to be confident about as they ground out a 13-6 victory and their schedule concluded with a predictable 18-33 defeat against the All Blacks.

With the exception of Canada, this was a fairly tough fixture list for Warren Gatland’s side and perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into the results which came at the end of a very long year for some of the players. However, having assessed that form and the prices on offer for the 2018 Six Nations, it’s time to make some predictions.

Verdict

England are clearly the team to beat and the crucial aspect for those backing Eddie Jones’ men comes with the fixture list. The holders only have two games at home but they are against their toughest opponents in Ireland and Wales so they have an advantage in that respect.

A trip to Italy should hold no concerns so the key games are away to Scotland and France. Win those and England should not only retain the championship, they are likely to complete another Grand Slam.

Talking of a Grand Slam, you can bet on this as an outright option and England to win all five of their fixtures is available at a top price of 9/4 with BetFred. Alternatively, Ireland to do the same is on offer at 6/1 with William Hill and 10Bet while Scotland are a distant third favourite at best odds of 25/1 with Ladbrokes.

Other betting markets will be available when the Six Nations kicks off in February and along with match results for all games, there will be a wide choice of side markets too. Winning margin, first try scorer and most tries are some of the more popular options but there will be lots to get involved with.

For now, there is a choice of longer term bets but we’ll stay with the overall winner where, based on form, depth of squad and a kind set of home fixtures, it’s very difficult to look beyond holders England.

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