Where to Find the Best Betting Offers for the Natwest Six Nations Championship – Including England v Ireland

Can England Defend Their Six Nations Crown?

The 2018 Six Nations rugby union tournament kicks off in Cardiff with Scotland the visitors to face Wales. The annual competition will see each nation play each other once across 7 weeks in a feast of rugby much anticipated by fans. This year is shaping up as a hard one to call with some good form shown by the home nation teams in the Autumn Internationals. England enter as defending champions but in what could be an open competition it could still be all to play for in the last round of games on Super Saturday, March 17th.

The Competing 6 Nations

  • England go into the Six Nations as many people's favourites and will be looking for an unprecedented third straight championship. With only one defeat in the last two years and ranked number 2 in the world, Eddie Jones team will be the ones to beat. However, a long injury list means there are 8 uncapped players in the squad who have been away preparing for the task ahead in a training camp in Portugal.
  • Ireland are the side tipped most likely to challenge England for the Six Nations title. Winners in 2014 and 2015 they bring in one uncapped player in Jordan Larmour. Ireland have good depth to their squad which means that although Johnny Sexton will miss the opener against Scotland they have a capable potential replacement in Paddy Jackson. However, they will need to tighten up their defence having conceded 13 tries in the Autumn Internationals.
  • Scotland could be the surprise package of the tournament. A steadily improving team led by captain Greig Laidlaw they will be keen to improve on last year's fourth-place finish. Three home fixtures with the backing of the Murrayfield crowd will be of advantage and this year they look capable of beating any of the other sides on their day. A good win over Australia and a narrow loss to New Zealand in the Autumn will have boosted confidence and they will hope to end a losing run of 8 games in Cardiff in the opening match.
  • An experienced Wales team enter the Six Nations on the back of a mixed 2017. Now ranked 7th in the world they face arguably their toughest two matches against England and Ireland away from home. They will miss players of the calibre of Sam Warburton and Johnathon Davies who will miss at least the opening game, part of a lengthy Welsh injury list. Having won back to back titles in 2012 and 2013 Wales and their passionate fans will be desperate to improve on last year’s disappointing 5th place.
  • France have been going through a mixed time too winning just three games out of eleven in 2017. Off-field issues will not help but new coach Jacques Brunel will look to focus his side on their opener against Ireland. They last won the trophy in 2010, but an important part of that side Morgan Parra will be absent against Ireland due to injury.
  • Perennial underdogs Italy will hope coach Conor O'Shea can guide them off the bottom of the table this year, a position they have occupied on twelve occasions since their admittance in 2000. With just one victory in the last four years, the signs are not good for the Azzurri, yet they slowly improve and are more competitive. However, a tough start against England and Ireland will test the side’s spirit to the full.

The Big Games

There could be many telling games in the 6 nations if it is as tight as some predict, yet the opener between Wales and Scotland will go some way to showing if either can challenge for the trophy. Scotland will then face arch-rivals and favourites England in front of the Murrayfield faithful for the Calcutta Cup, which England have held since 2009. One of the most eagerly anticipated games and potentially a title decider will be between England and Ireland on the final weekend. This match between the winners of the last four Six Nation titles could also give the Grand Slam to the victor if each side comes into the game with four straight wins. It may be a spectacular end to what is hoped will be a spectacular and competitive tournament.

The Six Nations – A Special Tournament

Dating back to 1882 the Six Nations has a rich history featuring some of the greatest players ever to grace the game. Originally made up of just the four home nations, the five nations tournament was born in 1910 when France joined. This is how the tournament stayed until the addition of Italy in 2000 necessitated the change to the current Six Nations title. There have been eras when one nation has been more dominant such as in the 1970's when the great Welsh side won five championships while containing the likes of Barry John, JPR Williams and Gareth Edwards. England and France have won the most titles in the competition’s current format with five apiece, though England have won 28 tournaments going back to its original formation in 1882.

Many rivalries exist and this is represented by the individual cups played for within the overall competition. England and Scotland play for the Calcutta Cup while England and Ireland contest the Millennium Trophy. The sought-after Triple Crown can be won by either England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales and requires one of these nations to beat the other three during the tournament. The Grand Slam is awarded to any of the Six Nations teams who defeats all the other five.

The format can often see tight conclusions on the final weekend and 2009 was to showcase this with one of the tournament's most exciting matches. With the last kick of the game, Wales had the chance to deny Ireland the Grand Slam, yet the 50 meter penalty kick was to drift wide of the posts, much to Irish delight. This was Ireland's first grand slam in 61 years.

Championship Schedule:

ROUND ONE

Saturday 3rd February

  • Wales v Scotland - kick off 1415hrs,
  • France v Ireland - kick off 1645hrs

Sunday 4th February

  • Italy v England - kick off 1500hrs

ROUND TWO

Saturday 10th February

  • Ireland v Italy- kick off 1415hrs
  • England v Wales - kick off 1645hrs

Sunday 11th February

  • Scotland v France - kick off 1500hrs

ROUND THREE

Friday 23rd February

  • France v Italy - kick off 2000hrs

Saturday 24th February

  • Ireland v Wales - kick off 1415hrs
  • Scotland v England - kick off 1645hrs

ROUND FOUR

Saturday 10th March

  • Ireland v Scotland - kick off 1415hrs
  • France v England - kick off 1645hrs

Sunday 11th March

  • Wales v Italy - kick off 1500hrs

ROUND FIVE

Saturday 17th March

  • Italy v Scotland - kick off 1230hrs
  • England v Ireland - kick off 1445hrs
  • Wales v France - kick off 1700hrs

So do the bookies have anything to offer up for this Imperial Championship? Composed below are the various markets available from some of the best Online Bookmakers who oblige punters with Live Streaming and In-play betting.

For the best choice of Rugby Union odds then look no further than Paddy Power. Paddy Power offers a superb choice of Rugby Union betting markets for the Six Nations and access to a multitude of markets on every fixture. Bet in-play is also available as well as match betting, handicap betting, first try scorer odds or ‘winning margin betting.

Six Nations Markets Offered:

  • Outright Betting
  • Grand Slam Winner
  • Triple Crown Winner
  • Top Tryscorer
  • Match Betting
  • The Six Nations Specials
  • To Finish Bottom
  • Top Team Tryscorer
  • Dual Forecast
  • Top Points Scorer

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