It's that time of year again. This weekend the Rugby Six Nations 2019 will kick off in style when France take on Wales in the opening game. This tournament is more important than many that have gone before it. Because it's also Rugby World Cup year!
The current Grand Slam holders, Ireland, will host England in their opening game on Saturday. That will take place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. They continued their dominant run last year by defeating New Zealand 16-9 in November. That kept them in second place in the Rugby World Rankings. Just a point and a half behind New Zealand.
For the 2019 tournament, the Irish are odds-on to retain their Six Nations title. They are also the shortest-priced northern hemisphere team to win the World Cup. If you are looking for bookies worth betting with to get the best odds, Ireland are around 5/6 on to win the Six Nations and 7/2 to win the World Cup. If you can get odds better than that you should take them!
However, it won't be all plain sailing for Ireland. They will face very tough opposition before the tournament ends on March 16th. England are the second favourites to win the Six Nations and will be pulling out all the stops to improve on last year’s disappointing performance.
A fifth place finish last season was one of their poorest in recent years. But they did show improvement by beating Australia 37-18 in the Autumn Internationals. Now Eddie Jones will need to select a team capable of working well together with a view to carrying their progress through to Japan later in the year.
Wales are not to be dismissed and as the team currently in third place in the World Rankings, have a lot to prove. Unbeaten in their last nine games, they have a favourable draw with home games against both Ireland and England. If they can reign supreme over France in the opening game, it will be all to play for. The squad have also been given a boost this week. Ross Moriarty, Liam Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies all passed their fitness tests and available for selection.
Scotland did really well last season when beating England. But up against the Irish and the Welsh, they still don't look like they have what it takes to win the Six Nations this year. They may be difficult to beat at Murrayfield and they are certainly on the up, however, it may not be enough to see them finish better than 3rd or 4th place.
The days when France ruled European rugby look to be over. And the odds of around 18/1 don't suggest that they have much of chance this year either. Their current form is pretty dire. And worse when travelling as they have lost their last eight matches on the road. With only three wins from their last 19 in total, they will still put up a fight but ultimately not much more is expected from them.
And there is Italy. What can you say about Italy? They show up, they try but in reality they haven't a cats chance in hell of making an impact this year. That's probably why they are around 1000/1 to win!