Six Nations 2018 Betting Tips & Predictions
The start of the biggest Rugby tournament for the top 6 countries in Europe is less than a week away, starting this Saturday, the 3rd of February. Whilst a cliché, this year’s tournament really is set to be more competitive than ever. The tournament consists of each team, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales playing each other making up 5 total game weeks. With England winning the championship the last 2 years under head coach Eddie Jones, they will be looking to be the first team in the history of the Six Nations to win it 3 times in a row.
A look back to last year’s 2017 Six Nations saw Joe Schmidt’s Ireland beat England in the final match of the tournament to prevent both a consecutive grand slam and end a world record run of wins for England, even though England still won the tournament overall. After winners England, the tournament was very close, with France, Ireland and Scotland all finishing on the same amount of points and were only separated by point’s difference. Last year’s Six Nations campaign was particularly poor for Wales who finished fifth, after only winning 2 games. Which meant they had their lowest finish in 10 years. The 2017 Six Nations saw Italy continue to struggle, not only losing every game for the second year in a row but having a point’s difference of -151.
England go into the 2018 Six Nations as favourite’s amongst all of the bookies. After being denied a Grand Slam by Ireland in the last game of the 2017 tournament, England comfortably won all 3 of their autumn international games, including a 30-6 win against Australia. In addition, last year’s Lions squad included 16 Englishmen, which was the highest number of the four countries. Taking all of this into account and the fact England have won the Six Nations the last 2 years it is easy to see why they are favourites. However, the road to victory for England may be tougher than it first appears. They have a significant injury list that includes some senior players in key positions. In the back row, talisman Number 8 Billy Vunipola has been ruled out the tournament with a broken arm, whilst second choice Number 8 and key player of late Nathan Hughes is doubtful to make a return this Six Nations campaign suffering a knee ligament injury. Adding to the injuries at Back Row, experienced campaigner and former captain, flanker Chris Robshaw is likely to miss the first game against Italy due to a back injury. This will lead to a very unexperienced back row for England, especially at the start of the tournament. Ever confident Eddie Jones may look to his young prospects, such as Zach Mercer, to take his solid performances for Bath on to the International stage.
Ireland will look to go one better than last year’s second place, and dethrone current holders England by winning the championship. Ireland built on their win against England to go unbeaten for the rest of 2017, winning all three autumn internationals, although were run close by Fiji, beating them 23-20. Perhaps a more important stat is that in the last 2 years, they have beaten all the Southern Hemisphere teams, including their historic and monumental first win over the ‘All Blacks’ at the 29th time of asking. This win also stopped a world record number of straight wins at the time of 18 for New Zealand. The bookies are putting Ireland only slightly behind England as second favourites to win the championship. Ireland certainly have a more favourable run of fixtures with rounds 2, 3 and 4 all being played at home, in Dublin. If Ireland win all these games, they will have huge momentum for the potential championship deciding trip to Twickenham in the last round of matches. Ireland are not without their own injuries, potentially biggest being that of powerhouse flanker Sean O’Brien, who is recovering from hip surgery, with no set return date.
Scotland and their fans will be as optimistic as they have been in years heading into this year’s Six Nations campaign. This is due to the resurgence of Scottish rugby in the last few years. In 2017 they had one of their best years this decade starting by beating Ireland, Italy and Wales in the 2017 Six Nations. Their strong Six Nations campaign was then backed up by 2 wins against Australia, one big win 53-24 in the autumn internationals, and pushed the All Blacks extremely close only losing 22-17. Head coach Gregor Townsend will be relishing the chance to cause an upset, especially with the Scots hosting favourites and rivals England at Murrayfield. In addition, with only 2 Scots being selected for last summer’s Lions squad, there may be an argument for the Scottish team being less fatigued than other teams such as England or Ireland. The main concern for Scotland will be their Front Row injury list, with the likes of WP Nel, Zander Fagerson and Ross Ford all suffering serious injuries that will likely rule them out of the tournament. If Scotland’s front five can front up and hold their own at scrum time, they will be dark horses for this year’s tournament.
Wales usually enter the Six Nations as a team backed by pundits and bookies alike to have a genuine chance at winning the championship. However, this year is different. Most bookies have them fourth favourite to win the championship, behind England, Ireland and Scotland. After a dismal 2017 Six Nations campaign, losing 3 out of the 5 games with one being at home against England, the rest of their 2017 results didn’t flatter Warren Gatland’s side. They lost to New Zealand and Australia, made worse because England and Scotland beat Australia on the same tour. In addition they only just beat a heavily declining South Africa side 24-22. Poor results are not Wales’s only problem, they also have lost some key players to injury. In the back row, experienced flankers Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate have been ruled out of the tournament both with knee injuries, and the instrumental number 8 Taulupe Faletau is also likely to miss the first half of the tournament. Wales’s starting fly half and gritty competitor Dan Biggar is set to miss the first half of the championship, made worse by the fact that Wales’s second choice fly half Rhys Priestland, has been ruled out of the tournament. This means Rhys Patchell, Owen Williams and Gareth Anscombe will be competing for the number 10 jersey for Wales’s first match against Scotland. Wales’s lack of form and significant injury list means Wales may struggle this Six Nations campaign, and will need to look to their home matches as a potential source of success.
France embark on their 2018 Six Nations campaign with problems of their own. In December, head coach Guy Noves was replaced by Jacques Brunel due to a run of poor results. Jacques Brunel has a tough task on his hands to prepare his side for this year’s Six Nations in such a short amount of time. This is magnified by France’s recent run of poor results. France lost 5 out of the 6 games they played after the Six Nations in 2017, and only managed to cling on to a tie with Japan 23-23 due to a missed conversion late on by Japan fly-half Yu Tamura. In addition, they have some significant injuries, most notably to their first choice fly-half Camille Lopez, who broke his ankle in October. This being said, on their day France have the capability to beat anyone, especially in Paris. They have a gigantic pack and some very skilful backs. However, their frustrating lack of consistency could lead to them struggling this year.
Italy head in to the tournaments as favourites to finish last and pick up the wooden spoon again. They have finished last 5 times in the last 8 years and as previously mentioned failed to register a win in the previous 2 Six Nations campaign. In addition, they only registered one win throughout 2017, just edging past Fiji 19-10. The odds are stacked against Italy. They will be relying on Captain Sergio Parisse to lead from Number 8 and some inventive and clever tactics from head coach Conor O’Shea. Much like their tactics employed against England in last year’s Six Nations, by not putting players into defensive rucks, which meant no offside line could be created. Whilst England still managed to win this game, it proved a useful tactic. Italy will need to target one of their home games to get a positive result. However, this year’s campaign looks like another difficult endeavour for Conor O’Shea’s men.
Free Rugby Betting Tips
We will have individual match previews for each game of the tournament as well as rugby accumulators so make sure you head over to our free rugby betting tips page to access these tips.
England Outright Winner
Extremely hard to pick a winner between England and Ireland, especially with England’s injury list. However, the last round of matches England play Ireland at Twickenham for what could be the Grand Slam decider. The fact it’s at Twickenham, which has become a fortress under Eddie Jones, not losing there since he took over in November 2015, has just pushed England as the outright winner. Though it will be a highly fought match, especially as the game takes place on St Patrick’s Day, but we think England will just pip Ireland to the post.
Jonny May Top Tryscorer
There are a few names that could be in the conversation for top try scorer heading into the tournament. Last year’s top try scorer Stuart Hogg is a good outsider at a very good price. Especially with Scotland’s improved performances. However, Jonny May is our prediction for top try scorer. He will be looking to carry his prolific try scoring form for Leicester into the England shirt. England will be looking to May for tries, especially with the impressive Elliot Daly out for the tournament.