When is the Six Nations?
The Six Nations takes place each year and the first round of this season’s tournament begins on Saturday with Wales hosting Italy and Ireland at home to Scotland. England start their campaign in France on the Sunday.
Who won the Six Nations last year?
Wales were in a class of their own last year with Warren Gatland leading the team to the Grand Slam. Five wins out of five saw them finish five points clear of England.
Can England win it this year?
Of course they can and Eddie Jones’ side are the 5/6 favourites to win the Six Nations. It would be no surprise if England finished as champions but will they suffer a hangover after their World Cup final disappointment?
Is the Six Nations on TV?
The competition will be televised with coverage split between the BBC and ITV. Wales and England’s opener will be on the BBC with ITV showing Ireland v Scotland on the opening weekend.
Who looks the team to beat this year?
This looks a very competitive edition of the Six Nations with plenty of uncertainty heading in this year. Four of the six teams have new coaches with Andy Farrell replacing Joe Schmidt for Ireland and Wayne Pivac bidding to help Wales defend the title.
Although England are odds-on favourites, Eddie Jones’ side face a tough start with successive away games in France and Scotland. Should they win both, England could prove difficult to stop but the World Cup finalists may stumble during the opening rounds.
England might not be at full throttle early on and there could be a fallout from their World Cup final defeat to South Africa, which was their last match. Without influential injured forward Billy Vunipola, England may be vulnerable.
Farrell steps up to take charge of Ireland and still has the basis of a strong team, led by captain Jonny Sexton. The second-favourites start with home matches against Italy and Wales which could be the springboard to another title success.
Instead of taking odds of 7/2, it could be worth backing Ireland and England in the dual forecast market which pays out if the teams finish first and second in any order.
Last year’s winners Wales cannot be ruled out but there is no guarantee Pivac will be able to repeat the success from Gatland’s reign and trips to Ireland and England only increase the size of the task facing him.
Who will finish bottom?
Italy are an exceptionally short price to finish bottom and it will be a shock if they manage to avoid the wooden spoon. The last four seasons have seen Italy prop up the table and to have any chance of ending this run, they will surely need to win at home to Scotland.
Gregor Townsend’s side were fifth last season and are under pressure to perform after a poor World Cup campaign. The loss of playmaker Finn Russell, after being left out of the squad for an extended drinking session last week, is a significant blow which suggests Scotland are likely to again be fighting at the wrong end of the table.
Any other bets?
Jacob Stockdale has an outstanding scoring record for Ireland and looks worth backing to be top tryscorer in this year’s tournament at 9/1.
The 23-year-old wing has 16 tries in 25 Tests for Ireland and finished as top scorer in the 2018 Six Nations. Stockdale scored seven times in their title triumph two years ago and added two more in last season’s disappointing Ireland campaign. Expect him to hit the ground running this year with a generous opener against Italy which could spark another prolific Six Nations.