The Six Nations Rugby kicks off this weekend with England, Wales, France, Italy and Ireland odds released by Paddy Power, who also a new free bets offer on all the action.
We’re set for two months of blood, sweat and tries as the most famous rugby competition takes place.
England take on Scotland and reigning champions Wales play Ireland on Saturday, whilst Italy host France on Sunday.
Any team that beat New Zealand certainly deserve respect in a tournament of this nature, and it is no surprise to see England, who did just that last month courtesy of a 38-21, head the betting for the Six Nations at 2/1 with Bet365.
However, punters haven’t been lining up to back them at that price as perhaps the wave of inconsistency surrounding English rugby is playing on punters minds. Before that New Zealand triumph, people have seemed to forget that against Australia and South Africa they were very average and subsequently lost both games.
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They should have far too much for Scotland this weekend, but there is always a chance that they could just throw in a terrible showing. That makes them a very weak betting proposition, especially around the 1/10 mark that Ladbrokes have priced them up for a win this weekend.
Scotland’s record verses England is pathetic though at Twickenham.
They have won only four times in the last 100 years with the last coming back in 1983. The 9/1 with Bet365 for it to be the fifth sums up their chances pretty well.
Andy Robinson quit has Scotland coach in the Autumn after an appalling run of results, that included the Scots finishing bottom of the Six Nations table last season. In fairness, the failings were more to do with the lack of clinical play by the players rather than a lack of knowledge by the coach, and quite a few fans were disappointed that the coach walked away.
Scott Johnson has taken over the reigns as coach and has at least breathed a bit of fire back into Scottish rugby with some fiery and controversial comments at the press conferences.
He has promised open, full-flowing, attacking rugby and with the Flying Dutchman, Tim Visser, and the prodigious Stuart Hogg, they may have a chance of scoring plenty of points. However, there defence looks very weak and it’s unlikely they will have enough to stop Stuart Lancaster’s side this weekend.
Gloucester centre Billy Twelvetrees will make his England debut at the expense of Manu Tualangi and forms a midfield partnership with Brad Barritt of Saracens. Twelvetrees is a very confident young man, and he looks a good shout to score a try at any time during the match with William Hill, who have made him a tantalising 9/2 shot.
Meanwhile, reigning Grand Slam winner Wales start their campaign in Cardiff against Ireland. Wales have crumbled since that incredible period of games, to the extent that they haven’t actually won a game since that Grand Slam success.
They are fifth favourites in the ante-post markets and have injury worries in the front row, which significantly restricts their chances of producing good rugby. That’s not stopped the bookmakers installing them as 4/5 favourites to beat Ireland this weekend though, with Ladbrokes the standout.
Unsurprisingly that price has been ignored by punters, as Ireland at 23/20 have been very popular with customers of Bet365.
They are regarded as the most consistent side in this competition and rarely does a season pass when Ireland aren’t in the shake up for the title. The likes of Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell are hugely experienced in these types of matches, and the way they have been speaking in recent weeks suggests they are fired up for a real assault on the title this season.
An away win in Cardiff would give them the perfect start.