The 2020 Six Nations gets underway this weekend with a number of new faces as we start the cycle towards the 2023 World Cup in France. Here is a quick look at the six teams involved, their BetXChange odds, and the pick of the Round 1 matches:
England – 0.75
A Grand Slam has been achieved in every post-World Cup year since 2004 and it is England who are the favorites to win the championship – and maybe claim that Grand Slam – in 2020. The question for England more than any other team is will they be able to come out of the hangover of a World Cup final defeat and fire on all cylinders in the subsequent international competition?
The saga at Saracens is also an off-field distraction, but there is a school of thought that this could be a positive if it galvanizes the squad. The England back row will win the team games.
Ireland – 3.50
This is Andy Farrell’s show now as the English dual-code star has taken over form the departed Joe Schmid after a Wolrd Cup campaign that would have to be seen as a failure. Replacing Rory Best at hooker will be an issue – especially given his leadership qualities – while captain johnny Sexton needs to stay healthy in order for Ireland to put its best backline on the pitch. The ability of Ireland to play a more open style and cut their talented backs loose will be something to watch for all tournament long.
France – 5.50
France has hit the reset button and they will be led by an unlikely duo in Fabien Galthie and Shaun Edwards. The key to the French tournament will be their ability to defend as we know they have the firepower in their first 23 to score tries on anyone in world rugby. There is a lot of pressure on Antoine Dupont and his ability to control the game, while Virimi Vakatowa is a player who can win games on his own.
Wales – 5.50
Wales is the third team in a row here to be led by new blood in the Six Nations, but they may suffer the most initially as Wayne Pivac replaces serial over achieved Warren Gatland who is now coaching back in Super Rugby. The loss of centre Jonathan Davies who is out potentially for the rest of the season is a massive blow, but a fit-again Josh Navidi will be massive as he is so good at getting Wales front foot ball. Louis Rees-Zammit is a player who we won’t see as much of as we want in this tournament but he is a future star of the game.
Scotland – 26.00
The first big drop-off in odds is for Scotland and they will be missing the talismanic Finn Russell at fly-half for at least the first game of their tournament against Ireland. Russell failed to show up for a training session after a night of drinking and his decision to turn down an offer to stay in the camp shows that the divide could be a serious one. This will give Adam Hastings a chance to see what he can do in the famous No. 10 shirt of Scotland. Add in the experience loss from John Barclay, Greig Laidlaw, and Tommy Seymour and this will be a rebuilding year for the Scots.
Italy – 569.00
Anyone taking a punt on Italy to win the tournament is either very brave of hasn’t watched much rugby over the last 20 years. They have one realistic chance for a win when Scotland go to Rome, but outside of that expect the Azzuri to struggle. Matteo Minozzi is the main man – and he is a world-class finisher – but the pack doesn’t have enough power or skill to really compete with the top end nations in the tournament.
France vs. England
The tournament starts with a bang as the Sunday game in Round 1 features championship favourites England against joint third favourites France in Paris. The French will be their mercurial selves and they can be had at 1.50 if you think their Gallic flare can tame the rugged forward play – and silky backline moves – of England (0.60). A draw can be taken at 22.00 if you think the spoils will be shared at the Stade de France.