Rugby Six Nations 2018 Preview
This years Rugby 6 Nations has lots to come for us and it could easily throw up a few surprises through the tournament with 3 teams all looking in good form. Leinster and their Irish contingent have been dominating Europe this year whereas the supposedly stronger English teams have all struggled with only Saracens qualifying for the Quarter Finals. This could be a sign the England players aren't nearly in the form we would expect and could even be a little tired. England come in as strong favourites coming at 11/10 with Ireland at 15/8 the bookies have clearly decided it is between the two teams. England have 3 away games this year and it is always tough to win when you have more away than at home, whereas Ireland have 3 home games this season and the Aviva is always a tough place to go for all teams. England are also priced at 5/2 to win the Grand Slam this is representing if anyone does it its most likely to be England but being the form of Ireland, Scotland and England its going to be tough for anyone to pick it up. England are hoping to win the Six Nations for the 3rd year running and with Eddie Jones in charge it could very well happen, under Jones England have only lost the one game and that was to Ireland in Dublin. Below we have previewed the Six Nations and picked out some key bets and tips for everyone to get on. Get all our Rugby Six Nations free bets here.
England Six Nation Preview and Tips
England come into this as the number two side in the world just behind New Zealand who they haven't played in over 3 years, its a match-up everyone is waiting to see as well. Under Eddie Jones England have been nearly unbeatable losing just once to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. This record includes 3 wins in Australia for the winter tour in 2016. Under Eddie Jones England have been transformed and deserve the number two spot in the world and maybe even arguably the number 1 slot. England are without some key players for this Six Nations though, but they often are, significantly absent are Billy Vunipola, Nathen Hughes, Eliot Daly and Joe Marler just to name a few. Hughes and Vunipola leave a headache for Jones at 8 as these two are huge ball carries and nearly always break the gain line, Jones has only picked one specialist 8 in the squad and its likely he may ask some of the other forwards to fill in here with such a vast array of talent with Kruis, Itoje, Launchbury, Robshaw and Underhill all vying to be playing in the flanker and 2nd row roles. As always England have the depth to cope with the injuries though and still have the depth for the impact players to come off the bench.
England start with a nice easy game away in Italy, if you were to pick one team to play away it would be Italy, round 2 sees them play Wales at home which is always a tough encounter but England should easily have enough to overcome them. Then comes the first test, Scotland away at Murrayfield, the Scots are much improved and could very well put up a tough game for England and even shock them, the difference here very well could be Eddie's "finishers" from the bench. Then comes France away, now this is a game nobody can call as we don't know which France will turn up. If the French start the tournament well they could come into this with confidence and still in the fight, more likely will be they start average and come into this game without a hope of winning the title and the French heads will all turn back to domesitc Rugby. The last and final game looks tasty, England are awesome at twickenham these days and they ave Ireland at home on Patricks day! In theory advantage England but we all know the Irish will undoubatly get there fair share in the Stadium. This game will decide the Six Nations in theory, England should win this but Ireland are tactically very clever and will attack Ford and Farrell and negate our big runners. England are deseverd favourites but away games in Scotland and France are worrying and Ireland is still a tough game even at Twickenham, they will surely lose one of these. I think the bonus points are likely to win this and England will come out on top with this, they are likely to get bonus points against Italy, Wales and France which should secure the tournemount. If Ireland are to win the Six Nations I think they need to win the Grand Slam and if they do fair play.
Bets and tips
Ireland Six Nations Preview and Bets
Ireland, as it has been said, are the only team to have beaten England under Jones, they look very solid and seem to have a lot of players in form. The Irish teams have been doing very well in Europe this year most notable Leinster who are now favourites to lift the Champions Cup. Ireland has the advantage this year with 3 home ties against Italy, Wales and Scotland, they need to go for bonus points in all three of these game to maximise their chance of winning the tournament. This, however, may be there undoing, Ireland have some electric backs in Conway, Stockdale and Carbury but they often go for safety rather than the expansive rugby these can play, this is mostly down to Joe Schmidt's tactics. The most important thing for Ireland is to keep as many of these fit as possible and none more so than Murray and Sexton, these two form the linchpin of the Ireland team and without them, they have often struggled to overcome teams. Ireland as always will be terriers at the breakdown and they often win games here players such as Toner, O'Mahoney and CJ Stander are important both with the ball and over the ball trying to win it back. The Irish often win games at the breakdown and if they are on top here they will likely be on top in the rest of the game as Murray and Sexton will ensure they dominate the territory as well.
Ireland need to ensure they win the 3 home games and win them well against Italy, Wales and Scotland, really they need to make sure they get the bonus point in all 3 of these games. Firstly though they need to go to France and win in France, as always the French are a little unknown they had a poor Autumn but every now and again they do just get it right and surprise a few. If this is going to happen it will likely happen in the first game in France. Then comes the last game against England at Twickenham, now if Ireland have done there job they should come into this game with 4 wins and bonus points on top (I personally don't think they will) and will be looking for a Grand Slam against England. The last time Ireland won at Twickenham was back in 2010, since then there have been 4 games at Twickenham which England have won by 11 points, 8 points, 3 points and 21 points. It will be a tough ask for Ireland to win at Twickenham but if they do a good job leading up to it and maybe even get a losing bonus point in this game they have a good chance of winning the tournemount.
Bets and tips
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Scotland Six Nations Preview
Scotland were the team of the Autumn without a doubt and are easily the most improved team in world rugby. Scotland managed to beat Australia and Samoa in the Autumn internationals and ran New Zealand as close as they have been run since Ireland beat them. They managed all this with significant injuries as well, they still managed to run in a significant amount of tries though putting an impressive 53 points on Australia. Let's not forget that Scotland also managed to beat Ireland at Murrayfield in last years 6 nations as well. Stuart Hogg is probably the best full back in the world something he proved on the Lions tour, he is electric always beats the break down and is a threat from anywhere on the field. But its not just Hogg these days that is world class in this Scotland team, it baffles me as to why more weren't picked for the Summer Lions tour. The likes of Finn Russell, Huw Jones and Jonny Gray have all proved they are close to the worlds best in the last year and are the core of this Scotland team. That may also be their weakness though they need to keep all these fit or they could have issues holding teams and unlike England, they just don't have the strength coming off the bench. In fact in the game against New Zealand, it was the last 20 minutes that really cost them, but that is the difference between the best two teams in the world and the rest.
Scotland probably do have an outside chance of winning the Six Nations but lots needs to go there way, they all need to stay feet and they probably need teams to have off days against them. They start away in Wales and this could determine a lot of how their campaign goes, they will start the underdogs here but Wales have become predictable and Scotland are tactically astute and could win here, if they do its on for the campaign. They then have two home games first against France which you would think they win thanks to pure desire, they should out think and out battle the French plus we all know the French don't travel well especially yo Scotland in February. The game against England will be huge and we all know Scotland love to beat the old enemy, if the full squad is fit here they could have a chance and they will put everything in. The likelihood is this game will be won in the last 20 minutes by the fitter team. This is followed by another tough trip to Ireland which you would think they would lose but with the two-week rest gap it could work the Scots advantage and they did tactically out-think the Irish last year so they have a chance. They finish the campaign in a lovely spring game in Italy, definitely one for the fans here Scotland should have enough to take this one, the Italians are often tired by this point and expect Scotland to be clear winners. Scotland have an outside chance but it is a big outside chance, on saying that they probably are going to have a heavy influence on who wins the championship, if England or Ireland lose for me its likely to be to Scotland.
Scotland Bets and Tips
Wales 6 Nations tips and bets
Wales come into this tournament with very little expected of them, they have become a predictable team and few fear playing them now. The Autumn internationals weren't spectacular they just about beat a poor South Africa and lost to both New Zealand and Australia with an uninspiring win against Georgia sandwiched in-between. Last years Six Nations wasn't exactly great either with away loses to France and Scotland and a home loss to England. the only Surprise was maybe the defeat of Ireland who most expected to win that game. Wales are unlikely to challenge for the championship, playing both Ireland and England away means they have the toughest of tough fixtures and are unlikely to win either of these. It doesn't help they have a host of injuries yet again Sam Warburton is injured, I can't actually remember the last time he was fit, on top of that both Davies and Bigger are also out given them a thin squad. I fully expect this to be Gatlands last Six Nations in charge, the game of Rugby has changed dramatically in the last 8 years and Wales haven't mostly due to Gatland, the Welsh team lacks an depth and any originality. The Welsh attack runs straight and with force which, to be honest, has become increasingly easy to defend, at times they lack any real mobility. The likes of Halfpenny at fullback are a prime example picked purely because he can kick, how he went on the last Lions tour still baffles me.
Wales start their campaign at home to Scotland, this game will set the tone for the tournament and unless they come up with something new I thoroughly expect Scotland to win this. Scotland are tactically clever and play an expansive game and will outscore Wales if the game goes this way. Wales then play England at Twickenham and although they will be thoroughly up for this even if England have an off day they should win this, England are better than Wales in every department and even if it's tight the England bench will come on and provide the impact. Then we come to the Ireland game again away, this will be a tough physical battle but expect Ireland to throw it wide and exploit the space as well as winning the breakdown battle. Finally, Wales come to Itally at home and by this point, they could very well have 3 losses in a row and the pressure will be on Gatland, expect them to beat Italy but with low confidence and any more injuries they could very much struggle. The last game sees France travel to Wales this is going to be a dead game, expect Wales to be the more professional team and take the points but it's not going to be pretty. Wales are not going to thrill the crowds, in fact expect a lot of pressure to be piled on Gatland, very little he can do now though they should have modernised 4 years ago or at the very least after the last world cup. Very real chance of the Wooden Spoon.
Wales Bets and Tips
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France Six Nations Preview
France may surprise a few this year they may not that is always the French Rugby conundrum. As always the French have all the finest talent in the World, the problem they have is they don't always want to play for the national team. Under coach Jacques, I do expect to see an improvement over the next 18 months leading up to the World Cup but this is going to be a building year I think. The French do still lack a real balance and this all comes from the 9/10 combination which they just don't seem to be able to get right. This French side is packed with Talent but to succeed they need to gel the team, the French club rugby teams have broken the gel between the French players, Jacques has gone away from the traditional Rugby strengths of the French squad and we could see a different approach this time from them, the core is the squad is made up of Racing 92 players who are all in form and if he bases his team around this we could see some natural gelling on the team. The French squad does lack some overall experience though with only 340 caps in the entire team, compared to England who have double that. As always with the French if they start well we could see something from them but if it doesn't gel quickly expect the players to start thinking about domestic matters and ensuring they don't get injured.
France do have 3 home games which gives them half a chance, as always though the Stade France pitch will come under scrutiny it tends to fall apart under the pressure of the two packs and prevents France from playing there a traditional brand of Rugby. The home game against Italy should be an easy win for them and expect them to win this, but coming straight after games against Ireland and Scotland the pressure could be on. The two home games are against England and Ireland the two favourites for the tournament, these will undoubtedly be tough games, whatever the situation expect France to put everything into the game against England, in Europe this year the French teams have had the beating of the English and England will need to battle hard to win this. The first game of the tournament against Ireland may see the French struggling to gel early on and expect Ireland to attack hard at the breakdown and put the pressure on the 9 and 10. The last game sees an away game against Wales and I think by this point the French players will all be thinking about domestic Rugby rather than international and expect them to hardly turn up as previous years have shown.
France Bets and tips
Italy 6 Nations preview
Honestly, what is there to be said about Italy, they have gone backwards in the last 10 years and we need to refresh the tournament, there are a few contenders for the Italian spot. Georgia have shown at the very least they are worth a try. On saying that I do actually see some promise in this team, last year they sprung a real surprise on England at the ruck showing they can think things through and it nearly worked. In fact it was an embarrassment it took the players on the pitch that long to work out how to play it, maybe that's a sign how much the modern player is coached. Italy as always have probably the best 8 in the world arguably one of the worlds best players, rarely do you see a player the size of Parisse with that mobility and talent with the ball. As well as that they have a new coaching team with traditional Irish rugby intelligence and a club game designed to support the national game. Conor O'Shea is a smart coach and expect to see some real changes in the Italian defence, and given the chance, they can play some rugby.
It's tough to know how the Italian games will go it's fair to say the home game against England will probably result in a loss but expect Italy to make it tough and maybe spring some surprises again. Away to Ireland expect similarly and Ireland will likely take the bonus point in that one as they don't travel all the well. Then we have away games against France and Wales, both of whom are likely to be under pressure which Italy could really take advantage of and are in a place to take advantage should ether team get it wrong here. The last game will be against Scotland and both teams could be tired by this point with small squads but I think Scotland should come out on top here. Italy are always tough to predict they have brilliance in them but have always lacked consistency, that could change with O'Shea in charge so watch this space. I have Italy with an outside chance of 4th.
Italy Bets and tips
It's hard to pick much out but Parisse top tryscorer is worth a shout
Six Nations predicted table
This year we have two outstanding teams, the old school rugby nations like Wales and France are very much struggling one is rebuilding the other needs too. Scotland are on the up but need some more depth and Italy are 4/5 years away from having some real advancement. This Six nations could really throw up some surprises but Ireland and England not being top 2 will not be one of them. It's tough to call which way round it will go but we never know. The one surprise I have thrown in is Itay at 4, Wales have huge issues and France are at the start of a rebuilding process. I could be wrong but England should win with Ireland 2nd, Scotland 3rd then Italy 4th followed by France/Wales as I am not sure who will finish bottom out of them.