Six Nations – England
England are the current holders of the Six Nations and were only denied the Grand Slam in the last match by Ireland last season. They enter the tournament as the bookmakers favourites to retain the trophy.
They KO this year with potentially the easiest fixture of R1 away to Italy. Bonus points could come into play so a positive start here is a must for Eddie Jones’s men.
England have been hit with injuries and will certainly miss Billy Vunipola. However Eddie Jones has made them incredibly hard to defeat and with home games against Ireland and Wales the crunch game could well be against the Auld Enemy at Murrayfield. Should they emerge unscathed from that we could well end up with a winner takes all again on the last day at Twickenham against Ireland!
Six Nations – Ireland
Ireland come into the 2018 tournament having denied England the Grand Slam last year but still seeing the tournament as a lost opportunity.
Defeats to Scotland and Wales cost them the chance to claim a 3rd Championship in 4 years. They KO the tournament by visiting Paris. I expect them to beat an out of sorts France. They then play successive home games against Italy and Wales which again I expect them to pick up full points.
The tournament really starts for them I think when they entertain Scotland in R4. They will be looking to avenge the defeat from last year. Both teams play open rugby and it could be down to which team has the better discipline and penalty count on the day as to who wins this match.
The final match sees them go to Twickenham where they will need no firing up to play against England. Their record at Twickenham is not great. They have not won there since 20-16 victory in 2010. Depending on results this could be a Grand Slam decider.
Six Nations – Wales
Wales will be glad to have coach Warren Gatland back at the helm. With him absent last year the only victories gained were against Italy (which was expected) and Ireland (which perhaps was not).
They come into the tournament with probably the worst injury hit squad. Against Scotland in their first match at least 6 Lions will be missing but the vast majority of the team (10 of 15) come from Scarlets so they will be used to each other and their style of play.
However they face probably the 2 toughest away fixtures having to play England in R2 and Ireland in R3. Therefore the tournament could potentially be all over for them by the end of R3.
I think they will be battling with France for 4th and 5th spot in the table.
Six Nations – Scotland
Scotland come into this tournament with probably their highest hopes since winning the 5 Nations in 1999.
A successful Autumn series has raised hopes that they can claim their Six Nations Championship.
Home games against England and France give them a chance as they do not have a great away record. They need to get off to a winning start against Wales to keep the momentum from the wins against Australia going.
The loss of Stuart Hogg for the 1st match is a bitter pill to swallow but one that I think they will overcome.
The pivotal game will be against England in R3. If Scotland can come away from that with a victory their confidence will be sky high going into the match against Ireland and then who knows?
Six Nations Tip of the Day
My Six Nations Tip is for IRELAND to win the Championship. I think that the injuries sustained by England will prove too much for them to overcome and Scotland’s away day woes will continue.
IRELAND are generally available at 13/8