Six Nations betting guide

We’ve extensively analysed the Six Nations and have shortlisted our selections for the big Rugby Union competition including highest scoring match, outright winner and player of the tournament.

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It doesn’t seem long ago that England were beaten in the World Cup Final - a defeat Eddie Jones’s men will be keen to put behind them in the 2020 Six Nations.

All the action gets underway on February 1 when Wales head to Italy to defend the crown won in determined fashion 12 months ago, while England travel to France 24 hours later.

Last 10 Six Nations Winners

Year Winner Runners-up Third Grand Slam Triple Crown
2019 Wales England Ireland Wales Wales
2018 Ireland Wales Scotland Ireland Ireland
2017 England Ireland France N/A N/A
2016 England Wales Ireland England England
2015 Ireland England Wales N/A N/A
2014 Ireland England Wales N/A England
2013 Wales England Scotland N/A N/A
2012 Wales England Ireland Wales Wales
2011 England France Ireland N/A N/A
2010 France Ireland England France N/A

Wales upset the odds by recording a memorable Grand Slam last year, before proving it to be no fluke by making the World Cup semi-finals - beaten only by the eventual winners, South Africa. Things may be a bit different under a new coach this time around, but they remain strong, as do England, who also came off worse against South Africa in the World Cup. And, it is with England we start our close-up of this year’s Six Nations.

England

World ranking: 3
Odds: 4-5
Recent Six Nations finishes: 2, 5, 1, 1, 2

Fixtures:
02 Feb v France (A)
08 Feb v Scotland (A)
23 Feb v Ireland (H)
07 Mar v Wales (H)
14 Mar v Italy (A)

Recent results (latest first):
Lost 32-12 v South Africa (N)
Won 19-7 v New Zealand (N)
Won 40-16 v Australia (N)
Won 39-10 v Argentina (N)
Won 45-7 v USA (N)

2019 Six Nations (latest first):
Drew 38-38 v Scotland (H)
Won 57-14 v Italy (H)
Lost 21-13 v Wales (A)
Won 44-8 v France (H)v Won 32-20 v Ireland (A)

At times outstanding, at others disappointing - that was the story of England’s 2019.

The year started well with a huge win in Ireland prior to flopping against both Wales and Scotland, but then they regained respect in the World Cup semis during their dismantling of New Zealand. That incredible victory was thrown out the window in the final, however, when the Red Rose never got going against the Springboks.

Whether that defeat leaves England nursing a hangover will be a concern to Eddie Jones, especially as some of the squad were involved in recent off-the-field distractions regarding Saracens. The fact England cracked under pressure at times last year could be evident in a tough opening clash in France, where they will be put to the test from the off - remember, Grand Slam winning-Wales only scrapped a 24-19 win in France on the opening weekend 12 months ago.

Should Jones’s men slip up in France, they have just six days to recover before their monster clash against old rivals Scotland at Murrayfield. True, Jones does have plenty of talent coming through, though whether it will be in time for a Six Nations campaign remains to be seen, while losing the injured Billy Vunipola is another headache for Jones, who’ll look to Tom Curry as a replacement. The return of Anthony Watson from injury is a plus, but England will need to improve their line-out - during a campaign involving three games on the road - if wanting to secure a first title in three years.

Verdict: Having missed out on World Cup glory, England will be seeking compensation. However, a possible World Cup hangover, off-the-field sagas, injuries and three away games could make England vulnerable - especially at odds of 4-5.

Ireland

World ranking: 5
Odds: 4-1
Recent Six Nations finishes: 3, 1, 2, 3, 1

Fixtures:
01 Feb v Scotland (H)
08 Feb v Wales (H)
23 Feb v England (A)
07 Mar v Italy (H)
14 Mar v France (A)

Recent results (latest first):
Lost 46-14 v New Zealand (N)
Won 47-5 v Samoa (N)
Won 35-0 v Russia (N)
Lost 19-12 v Japan (N)
Won 27-3 v Scotland (N)

2019 Six Nations (latest first):
Lost 25-7 v Wales (A)
Won 26-14 v France (H)
Won 26-16 v Italy (A)
Won 22-13 v Scotland (A)
Lost 32-20 v England (H)

It was a disappointing World Cup for Ireland in the autumn when humbled by hosts Japan, prior to a hiding against New Zealand in the last eight, and they’ll want to put that right.

One man who’ll be at the front of the queue in putting the wrongs of Japan right is Bundee Aki, having been sent off against Samoa. The powerhouse will be a force once more, as will James Ryan, while experience comes via the evergreen, Johnny Sexton, who’ll be captaining throughout the campaign following the retirement of Rory Best; Sexton remains doubtful for their opening home clash against Scotland.

Not only did Best retire, though, but Joe Schmidt made way for a new coaching the shape of Andy Farrell. Farrell’s main challenge will be getting his side focused following their World Cup flop, while also looking for new blood to come through an ageing squad that may have peaked - they had no answers against Wales, England, New Zealand and Japan when faced with their biggest games last year.

Players like John Cooney are enjoying a good season for Ulster and could be on the coach’s radar, while three home games is another welcome sight for Farrell, though they’ll need early momentum against Scotland in the first of those Dublin encounters.

Verdict: A below-par 2019 resulted in a drop in the rankings for an ageing unit that looked beyond their 2018 peak. Three home games offer hope under a new regime.

Wales

World ranking: 4
Odds: 6-1
Recent Six Nations finishes: 1, 2, 5, 2, 3

Fixtures:
01 Feb v Italy (H)
08 Feb v Ireland (A)
22 Feb v France (H)
07 Mar v England (A)
14 Mar v Scotland (H)

Recent results (latest first):
Lost 40-17 v New Zealand (N)
Lost 19-16 v South Africa (N)
Won 20-19 v France (N)
Won 35-13 v Uruguay (N)
Won 29-17 v Fiji (N)

2019 Six Nations (latest first):
Won 25-7 v Ireland (H)
Won 18-11 v Scotland (A)
Won 21-13 v England (H)
Won 26-15 v Italy (A)
Won 24-19 v France (A)

Last year’s Grand Slam winners and World Cup semi-finalists will prove a tough unit once more in the 2020 Six Nations, and there is no reason why they can’t defend the crown.

While Warren Gatland departs from the hot seat following 12 memorable years with Wales, there is every possibility the men in red could improve under new coach, Wayne Pivac. The former Scarlets man has been employed to introduce a more attacking style of play, as the Welsh missed out on a bonus point last year despite winning all five games. They showed tremendous character in gaining those wins, however, as witnessed in their opener when 16-0 down at half-time in France, and the bulk of that squad remains. Indeed, Wales remain relatively injury-free but for Ellis Jenkins and Leigh Halfpenny, who missed last year, while Taulupe Faletau will hopefully return from a recent knock.

Plenty has been made of Wales facing both England and Ireland on the road, but the flip side shows they have three home games! This is also a side that haven’t been weakened since last year’s Six Nations, as witnessed when pushing eventual winners, South Africa, all the way in the World Cup. They will again be captained by the highly influential, Alun Wyn Jones, who won last year’s Player of the Tournament, and looked sharp on his return to action recently.

Verdict: Looking for back-to-back titles under a new regime, but with a settled side who could progress. Another Grand Slam looks tough, but they’ll be hard to beat and may defy the odds again.

France

World ranking: 7
Odds: 7-1
Last 10 Six Nations finishes: 4, 4, 3, 5, 4

Fixtures:
02 Feb v England (H)
09 Feb v Italy (H)
22 Feb v Wales (A)
08 Mar v Scotland (A)
14 Mar v Ireland (H)

Recent results (latest first):
Lost 20-19 Wales (N)
Won 23-21 v Tonga (N)
Won 33-9 v USA (N)
Won 23-21 v Argentina (N)
Won 47-19 v Italy (N)

2019 Six Nations (latest first):
Won 25-14 v Italy (A)
Lost 26-14 v Ireland (A)
Won 27-10 v Scotland (H)
Lost 44-8 v England (A)
Lost 24-19 v Wales (H)

It’s been 10 years since France last won the Six Nations, but they could be in with a shout of ending that drought via an exciting, young side.

The introduction of new coach, Fabien Galthie, along with defensive maestro, Shaun Edwards, are two massive pluses to the managerial team, while boasting strength in their squad. That was witnessed at the recent World Cup when France performed well until losing narrowly 20-19 to Wales in the quarter-finals. That unit from Japan has also been freshened up with 19 uncapped players in their 42-man squad, to go alongside the likes of World Cup star, Gregory Alldritt, Antoine Dupont and New-Zealand born Virimi Vakatawa, who is capable of tearing defences apart. Add to that, the batch of improving youngsters that won the last two World Rugby U20 Championships, and it’s clear to see why France attracted money throughout this year’s build-up.

There is also a nice schedule for Les Bleus, with three home games at the famous Stade de France, a fortress for them over the years. Indeed, they’ve now won seven of their last 10 home games in this competition, and it took the Grand Slam winning Wales side to beat them narrowly 24-19 on the opening weekend in 2019. Their opener against England may work in their favour too, as the Red Rose have a few issues heading into the campaign.

Verdict: France weren’t far behind Wales during their two clashes in 2019, and with three home games in their favour, Les Bleus could go close under new management.

Scotland

World ranking: 9
Odds: 28-1
Recent Six Nations finishes: 5, 3, 4, 4, 6

Fixtures:
01 Feb v Ireland (A)
08 Feb v England (H)
22 Feb v Italy (A)
07 Mar v France (H)
14 Mar v Wales (A)

Recent results (latest first):
Lost 28-21 v Japan (N)
Won 61-0 v Russia (N)
Won 34-0 v Samoa (N)
Lost 27-3 v Ireland (N)
Won 36-9 v Georgia (H)

2019 Six Nations (latest first):
Drew 38-38 v England (A)
Lost 18-11 v Wales (H)
Lost 27-10 v France (A)
Lost 22-13 v Ireland (H)
Won 33-20 v Italy (H)

It was a step backwards for Scotland last year following several years of progression, and they appear to have Ben Nevis-like mountain to climb when facing Ireland in their opening fixture.

With head coach, Gregor Townsend, under pressure following a run of just one win from eight games against against the top 10 ranked nations throughout 2019, there is also the recent blow of star player, Finn Russell, being ruled out for their opener in Dublin following a ‘breach of team protocol”. Add to that, Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay’s retirement from international rugby, and their task against Ireland looks all the more difficult. Another tough encounter at home against Six Nations favourites, England, on week two does’t make life any easier, while playing three away games during the 2020 campaign ensures a difficult path ahead.

There is a crumb of good news, however, with new captain, Stuart Hogg, volunteering to steer the ship and inspire his troops, while the tough tackling, Hamish Watson, is finally back to full fitness.

Verdict: Without several key players and three games on the road doesn’t inspire confidence for a side that struggled to mix it with the better sides in recent times. Both Stuart Hogg and Hamish Watson will need to find their best.

Italy

World ranking: 12
Odds: 1000-1
Recent Six Nations finishes: 6, 6, 6, 6, 5

Fixtures:
01 Feb v Wales (A)
09 Feb v France (A)
22 Feb v Scotland (H)
07 Mar v Ireland (A)
14 Mar v England (H)

Recent results (latest first):
Lost 49-3 v South Africa (N)
Won 48-7 v Canada (N)
Won 47-22 v Namibia (N)
Lost 37-0 v England (A)
Lost 47-19 v France (A)

2019 Six Nations (latest first):
Lost 47-19 v France (H)
Lost 57-14 v England (A)
Lost 26-16 v Ireland (H)
Lost 26-15 v Wales (H)
Lost 33-20 v Scotland (A)

Italy traditionally face an uphill task heading into the Six Nations, but their task will be even more stiffer without their most-capped player, Sergio Parisse.

Parisse was missing from Italy’s squad against Wales in their opener, but will make an appearance later in the campaign to mark his farewell from international rugby. The legendary No.8 will be a huge loss to the Azzurri, who need to end a 22-match losing streak in the Six Nations - and that will be no easy task with three away games to come.

But, there is good news. First, the appointment of Franco Smith following Italy’s exit from the World Cup at the pool stage. Although they lost heavily to South Africa prior to their last game being cancelled, they comprehensively took care of Namibia and Canada in the early stages of the pool, while also finishing last year’s Six Nations quite well. Indeed, the Italians held their own at home last year, and with an unpredictable Scotland first up in Rome, that could be Smith’s chance of victory - for the record, the two nations remain level at 6-6 in head-to-heads staged in Italy.

There is also the return of Wasps full-back Matteo Minozzi, who missed last year having previously shown his scoring power in 2018, while the likes of fly-half, Tommaso Allan (third highest points scorer in 2019 Six Nations), and back-row pair, Jake Polledri and Abraham Steyn, add further strength.

Verdict: Another tough campaign ahead for the Azzurri, who are 1-50 to finish bottom. However, odds of 10-11 about them beating Scotland at home on February 22 in receipt of an 8-point start on the handicap offer better value.

WINNER

With all the reports and stats in place, the main question remains: who will win the 2020 Six Nations?

Well, when looking at the odds, England remain very short at 10-11 considering there isn’t much between them and Wales, who are 6-1. Add to that, England’s three games on the road and possible hangover from a crushing World Cup Final defeat, while off-field issues involving players at Saracens are negatives rather than positives. Wales on the other hand, are a settled side with three home games, who may actually improve under a new coach. At 6-1, Wales to win back-to-back Six Nations is the bet.

Similarly priced are France at 13-2, who finished only fifth in 2019, but are capable of improving upon that position - and, as can be seen below, a reversal in fortunes the following year can be achieved.

Year Winner Previous year’s Six Nations finish
2019 Wales Runners-up
2018 Ireland Runners-up
2017 England Winner
2016 England Runners-up
2015 Ireland Winner
2014 Ireland Fifth
2013 Wales Winner
2012 Wales Fourth
2011 England Third
2010 France Third

Having finished fourth in 2013, Ireland turned things around 12 months later to land the title, which will give heart to Les Bleuss’ followers. They remain a young side who are improving and did well in the World Cup, while boasting several world class players in Gregory Alldritt, Antoine Dupont, Virimi Vakatawa and Teddy Thomas, who could be the star of this year’s Six Nations if in the mood.

As for Ireland and Scotland, the former didn’t shape like world beaters in Japan at the World Cup and aren’t getting any younger, while Scotland have numerous issues and just aren’t good enough.

GRAND SLAM and TRIPLE CROWN

With the Grand Slam achieved in three of the last four years, and the Triple Crown in four of the last six, there may some takers about another clean sweep, with England 7-4, Ireland 9-1 and Wales 12-1 to repeat last year’s feat. Others may disagree, with this year’s competition set to be one of the tightest for years with England facing three games on the road, Wales (away to England and Ireland) being asked to repeat last year’s standard, and an ageing Ireland possibly past their best. Should each nation end up beating each other, then 11-10 about “No Winner’ of the Grand Slam may be the option.

The bookies are less confident of “No Winner” in the Triple Crown market, offering 2-1, with England leading the way once more at 11-10, Ireland 6-1 and Wales as big as 11-1.

TOP TRYSCORER

Both England and Ireland produced numerous Top Tryscorers during the last 10 years, with Jonny May the most recent recipient of the award in 2019 courtesy of six tries.

Past winners (country, number of tries)

Year Winner
2019 Jonny May (England 6)
2018 Jacob Stockdale (Ireland 7)
2017 Care/Joseph (England 3); Earls/Gilroy/Stander (Ireland 3); North/Williams (Wales 3); Hogg (Scotland 3)
2016 George North (Wales 4)
2015 Jonathan Joseph (England 4)
2014 Jonathan Sexton (Ireland 4), Mike Brown (England 4)
2013 Alex Cuthbert (Wales 4)
2012 Tommy Bowe (Ireland 5)
2011 Chris Ashton (England 6)
2010 Earls, Bowe (Ireland 3), Hook, Williams (Wales 3)

2019 Top Tryscorers

6 Jonny May (England)
4 Yoann Huget (France)
3 Josh Adams (Wales)
3 Keith Earls (Ireland)
3 Darcy Graham (Scotland)
3 Blair Kinghorn (Scotland)
3 Edoardo Padovani (Italy)
3 Henry Slade (England)

May lines-up as the 4-1 favourite for the upcoming campaign, with 2018 winner, Gavin Stockade a 10-1 shot. Dividing the pair in the market is Waless’, Josh Adams (9-2) who notched three in 2019, and France’s in-form star, Teddy Thomas (8-1), who may be out to make up for missing the World Cup.

TOP TRYSCORING NATION

For punters looking to play this market, then one vital part of the puzzle has to be taken into consideration, namely that nine of the 10 winning nations of this accolade during the last 10 years did so having played an advantageous three of their five Six Nations games at home.   

2019   England (24 tries)   3 home games
2018   Ireland (20)   3 home games
2017   England (14)   3 home games
2016   Wales (17)   3 home games
2015   England (18)   3 home games
2014   Ireland (16)   3 home games
2013   Wales (9)   2 home games
2012   Ireland (13)   3 home games
2011   England (13)   3 home games
2010   France (13)   3 home games

2019 Most Tries
24   England
14   Ireland
14   Scotland
12   France
10   Italy
10   Wales

England bagged an impressive 10 more tries than both Ireland and Scotland, while the surprising stat from above shows Grand Slam winners, Wales, notching the joint-lowest number of tries with a mere 10. Unsurprisingly, the odds compilers make England their 5-6 jollies, with Ireland 7-2, France 9-2 and Wales 6-1.

TOP POINTS SCORER

Last year’s Six Nations again saw the position of fly-half producing the tournament’s top points scorer. Indeed, Owen Farrell’s 59 points for England was 16 points clear of his nearest pursuer in Wales’, Gareth Anscombe, giving Farrell not only his second accolade for this award, but the seventh for a fly-half in 10 years.

Past winners (country, position)
2019   Owen Farrell   (England, fly-half/centre)
2018   Maxime Machenaud   (France, scrum-half)
2017   Camille Lopez   (France, fly-half)
2016   Owen Farrell  (England, fly-half/centre)
2015   George Ford   (England, fly-half)
2014   Johnny Sexton   (Ireland, fly-half)
2013   Leigh Halfpenny   (Wales, fullback/wing)
2012   Leigh Halfpenny   (Wales, fullback/wing)
2011   Toby Flood   (England, fly-half/centre)
2010   Stephen Jones   (Wales, fly-half/centre)

2019 Top Scorer
59   Owen Farrell   (England)
43   Gareth Anscombe   ( Wales)
34   Tommaso Allan   (Italy)
30   Jonny May   (England)
23 J onathan Sexton   (Ireland)
21   Dan Biggar   (Wales)
21   Greig Laidaw   (Scotland)
20   Yoann Huget   (France)
17   Finn Russell   (Scotland)
16   Conor Murray   (Ireland)

The bookies make Farrell their red-hot 6-4 favourite to win this for a third time in five years, though with the French interrupting his sequence on two occasions in 2018 and 2017, Romain Ntamack appears as a more tempting option at 6-1. With Wales also providing the winner on three occasions from 2010-2014, Dan Biggar can’t be overlooked at 10-3.

TOTAL TOURNAMENT TRIES

The last two Six Nations saw a record-breaking number of tries scored - thanks to the bonus point system, introduced to encourage a more attacking game. With only 37 tries accumulated during the 2013 campaign, the totals grew considerably since, with last year culminating in 84 - over double the number from seven years ago.

Year Total tries 2019   84
2018   78
2017   66
2016   71
2015   62
2014   61
2013   37
2012   46
2011   51
2010   48

If the the overall trend for more tries continues, then rugby fans could be in for an absolute treat in 2020, and surely it won’t be long before the 90+ mark is broken. As for how the bookies see it, then they chalk 5-6 about 73 tries or more, and 5-6 for 72 or less.

TOTAL TOURNAMENT POINTS

The 2019 Six Nations again witnessed the growing trend of points being scored throughout the campaign - each of the last five years saw 650+, compared to 2009 to 2014 when the average was only 584.

Year Total points
2019   676
2018   679
2017   653
2016   693
2015   660
2014   603
2013   534
2012   538
2011   589
2010   594
2009   597

Not only is this good news for the game, but also for punters looking to profit via each point that’s scored. The bookies post 5-6 about the upcoming campaign producing 668 or more points, with 5-6 for 667 or less.

HIGHEST SCORING MATCH

As for which games provided points galore down the years, then the following list reveals some pointers.

Past high scoring games
2019   England 38 Scotland 38 (Week 5);   England 57 Italy 14 (Week 4)
2018   Ireland 56 Italy 19 (Week 2);   Ireland 37 Wales 27 (Week 3)
2017   England 61 Scotland 21 (Week 4);   Italy 10 Ireland 63 (Week 2)
2016   Wales 67 Italy 14 (Week 5);   Ireland 58 Italy 15 (Week 4)
2015   England 55 France 35 (Week 5);   Italy 20 Wales 61 (Week 5)
2014   Italy 11 England 52 (Week 5);   Wales 51 Scotland 3 (Week 5)
2013   England 38 Scotland 18 (Week 1);   Wales 22 Ireland 30 (Week 1)
2012   Ireland 42 Italy 10 (Week 2);   Ireland 32 Scotland 14 (Week 4)
2011   England 59 Italy 13 (Week 2);   France 34 Scotland 21 (Week 1)
2010   France 46 Italy 20 (Week 4);   Wales 31 Scotland 24 (Week 2)

Twickenham again provided the highest scoring game of the 2019 Six Nations tournament, courtesy of their 38-38 thriller against Scotland during the final week. That 76-point affair made it a fifth occasion in nine years that most points were recorded at Twickenham during the campaign, though Italy were also regulars on the high-scoring list above. Indeed, the Azzurri featured in seven of the 12 highest scoring Six Nations games since 2014, and that pattern appeared to continue at the World Cup last autumn.

Average scoreline of each nation

Team Last five gamesPoints2019 Six NationsPoints
England31-1445pts37-2057pts
France29-1847pts19-2443pts
Ireland27-1542pts20-2040pts
Italy23-3255pts17-3855pts
Scotland31-1344pts21-2546pts
Wales 23-2245pts23-1336pts

With Italy’s defence conceding heavily during the last 12 months, there could be carnage when they visit Paris on February 9, as there was 10 years ago when this fixture produced the highest points score of the 2010 Six Nations - France won 46-20. A repeat of France v Italy producing most points in the 2020 Six Nations is an 11-1 shot. Ireland v Italy is a 7-2 shot.

PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT

2019   Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
2018   Jacob Stockdale (Ireland)
2017   Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
2016   Stuart Hogg (Scotland)
2015   Paul O'Connell (Ireland)
2014   Mike Brown (England)
2013   Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
2012   Dan Lydiate (Wales)
2011   Andrea Masi (Italy)
2010   Tommy Bowe (Ireland)

Wales supplied a third winner of this accolade since 2010 when Alun Wyn Jones was awarded the trophy for leading his side to the Grand Slam in 2019. Jones is a 16-1 shot this time around in a market where English players head the betting in Maro Itoje (10-1), Owen Farrell (10-1), Tom Curry (12-1) and Sam Underhill (12-1). However, punters should note only one Player of the Tournament was English during the 10 last years, though that’s still one more than France, who are yet to supply the winner since its inception in 2004. Should Les Blues enjoy a strong campaign, then both Virimi Vakatawa (22-1) and Antoine Dupont (25-1) catch the eye at big prices.

Six Nations betting guide
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