The Six Nations Championship always takes on extra importance in a Rugby World Cup year, and the winners of this edition of the Northern Hemisphere international union tournament can take momentum into the autumn with the Webb Ellis Trophy up for grabs in Japan.
Holders Ireland begin their final campaign under coach Joe Schmidt seeking a fourth Six Nations success of his tenure and consecutive Grand Slams. They are hot betting favorites at a best-price 17/20 with Betway to retain their title and 5/2 with most bookmakers for the Slam again in 2019.
Jacob Stockdale was a real revelation on the wing for Ireland in last year’s Six Nations Championship, setting a Post-War record for the most tries in a single edition of the tournament. His potent threat will be key for Schmidt’s side again, but lock Iain Henderson misses the majority of the campaign with another injury.
While the Irish are the team to beat, EddieJones has England on the comeback trail after a poor defense of the Six Nations they won back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 some 12 months ago. Three straight losses – to the Auld Enemy at Murrayfield, France in Paris and Ireland atTwickenham – saw the Red Rose fall away and finish a dismal fifth in the table.
Although England then lost their three-Test summer Tour of South Africa 2-1, Jones’ side rallied to win four of their last five internationals of 2018 and that sole defeat in the autumn to Rugby WorldCup holders New Zealand was by just one point. The Six Nations outright betting market has the Red Rose as the team most likely to topple Ireland at atop-price 100/30 with William Hill.
Swansong for Gatland as well as Schmidt
Wales were runners-up in last year’s tournament and head coach Warren Gatland, like Kiwi compatriot Schmidt, launches a final campaign looking for a fourth Six Nations crown. It’s been five years since the Dragons triumphed, but they’ve won their last nine internationals going into this year’s tournament and are a standout 11/2 withBetVictor in all the latest betting offers on rugby.
Gatland and Schmidt could easily battle it out to succeed All Blacks boss Steve Hansen after the Rugby World Cup, but before that the two New Zealanders meet for the last time in Six Nations action at the Principality Stadium where Wales host Ireland on the final match day. The two Celtic countries will also cross paths in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches.
Bar England, Ireland and Wales, the other three Six Nations are big prices with Scotland just ahead of France in the betting and then Italy massive 1000/1 outsiders. The Scots have been inconsistent since finishing third in last year’s tournament where centre Huw Jones really caught the eye.
Traveling Tartan Army supporters saw their side lose to the USA and then beat Argentina in the summer Tour of America, only for the Pumas to gain revenge in one of the Autumn Internationals. GregorTownsend has a crop of talented players who on their day can match any opposition and the Scotland coach needs to bring that out of them more regularly.
France have only won three Tests undercurrent boss Jacques Brunel, so he’s hardly doing any better than predecessor Guy Noves. The 2019 Six Nations Championship thus looks a three-horse race withIreland worthy favorites.