It’s that time of the year when Six Nations Rugby returns to our screens, with five physically intense rounds of competition spread across February and Match.
England head into the Championships as favourites, with back to back triumphs, including a Grand Slam in 2016, but could the Red Rose’s impressive form be set to crash in early 2018?
Joe Lovelace, Head of PR at Marathonbet, has been discussing England and who the bookies say are their closest rivals: “Under Eddie Jones, England have been imperious, winning 22 out of a possible 23 Test matches, deservedly heading into the championship as the bookmaker’s favourites.
“A third straight Six Nations would be impressive but a host of injuries to key players makes this even tougher.
“But if England’s young players stand up, be counted and take their opportunity, retaining the title and claiming a Grand Slam is very possible.
“England and Ireland are hot favourites, it could all come down to the last round where Twickenham plays host to these two teams in what will be a mouth-watering encounter.”
All eyes could well fall onto that fixture in the final round, with England seeking revenge for their sole loss under Australian coach Jones, with Ireland triumphing 13-9 in the final game of last seasons tournament.
However, could customers be backing a certain nation who showed great resurgence in an impressive 2017: “Unsurprisingly the majority of our punters at Marathonbet have been backing England to win a record third straight Six Nations, with a few backing a Grand Slam along the way, but ultimately believing they’ll come up trumps overall.
“For the first time in a while though we’ve seen a number of punters backing Scotland to go all the way – testament to an impressive 2017 that saw them beat Ireland, Wales and Australia with Gregor Townsend’s expensive brand of rugby.”
Would Scottish success be a surprise given recent Six Nations performances? And could we see a change of nation propping up the table? Lovelace added: “Scotland won’t be surprising anyone this season, because their Six Nations rivals will not be taking them lightly after some impressive results from this young exciting side last year.
“They’re considerably better odds than France and Wales to win this season’s championship and our punters’ activity backs this up with many backing them to claim Six Nations glory at 7/1.
“Wales are unusual outsiders at 15/1 to go all the way despite having the experienced British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland, this is mainly down to them missing a host of star players through injury and introducing a new brand of free-flowing rugby.
“Italy are destined for the wooden spoon once again, there doesn’t look to be much hope of them not losing all five games – we’ve priced them at 500/1 to win the tournament to back this up.”
Amongst all the talk of potential Six Nations winner and losers, Lovelace went on to discuss the current state of rugby union betting, and what can be done to ensure it grows and increases its appeal: “Betting on rugby union and Six Nations has improved over the past few years but there is a long way to go for it to compete and rival the likes of football, tennis, darts and other sports that have a far higher level of activity from our punters.
“Educating customers around the variety of markets the betting industry has to offer will go a long way to showing punters that rugby union has as much to offer as any other sport has to offer. Rugby isn’t seen as a traditional betting sport, this perception needs to change going forward.”