Six Nations 2019 - Tournament Preview
Six Nations 2019: Can Anyone Stop Tournament Favourites Ireland?
Rugby fans can look forward to six weeks of exhilarating action as the Six Nations begins at the Stade de France on Friday evening. Wales are the visitors to Paris for an eagerly anticipated clash, Scotland host Italy on Saturday, before arguably the standout fixture of the round where Ireland and England square off in Dublin. These leading European sides will lock horns in several big games over the ensuing weeks until it all concludes with England v Scotland on March 16.
The Irish head into the tournament as the clear favourites to emerge triumphant and that honour is well deserved. They swept all five rivals aside to seize the Grand Slam last year, and their impressive form has so far shown little sign of fading. Ireland are now up to second in the world rankings and they secured a stunning victory over the only team ahead of them, the All Blacks, in November. Johnny Sexton is arguably the best player in the world right now and coach Joe Schmidt expects him to be fit for their opener against England, which will give the team a huge boost.
Sexton Leads The Irish Charge
Sexton is a superstar, and Tadhg Furlong, Conor Murray and James Ryan have proven themselves as top-notch players too, but the depth of quality available to Schmidt is astonishing. The Irish can practically replace like-for-like in so many positions and it could be difficult for England to pull off an upset in Dublin. Home advantage for Ireland could be massive, but it would be naive to totally write off Eddie Jones’ men.
England will miss injured stars like Sam Underhill and Dylan Hartley, yet Jones should be able to call upon Billy Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi, Mako Vunipola, Ben Te’o and Joe Cokanasiga, leaving them with plenty of colossal ball carriers. Throw in Owen Farrell and Maro Itoje and you have a seriously good side, blessed with pace, power, grace and flair.
Take a glance at the Six Nations spread betting, and you will see that Ireland are the clear favourites to vanquish England in their opener. They ended England’s world record equalling winning streak in the last game of the 2017 Six Nations and they have been on fire ever since.
Ireland beat England 24-15 last year and have won 18 of their last 19 games, including that superb win against New Zealand. If they win the opener they will carry crucial momentum into the rest of the tournament and derail their most formidable rival, so that initial home advantage could be massive. The confidence in Ireland is backed up in the Six Nations Outright Index, where Ireland have been installed as the favourites.
However, this is by no means a two-horse race as Warren Gatland presides over a magnificent group of Welsh players. He has already declared that if they beat France in Paris in their curtain raiser, they will go on to lift the trophy for the first time since 2013. They have won their last nine games in a row and will be surging with confidence ahead of the trip to the French capital. Wales have also won six of their last seven matches against France, so they will fancy their chances.
Wales Hoping To Exploit France’s Poor Form
The spread betting on this game is extremely tight, and that reflects the growing strength of this French team. They can call upon established stars like Mathieu Bastareaud, Morgan Parra and Guilhem Guirado, while there are a number of exciting young players coming through the ranks. France’s away form has been well below par: they have lost their last eight road trips on the bounce. Yet they have pulled off some strong results in Paris over the past couple of years, so Wales cannot afford to take them lightly.
However, France have lost five of their last six games, including a home defeat to Fiji in their last appearance at the Stade de France, and that is not the sort of form to drive fear into the hearts of their opponents.
Wales will have the best player on the pitch in Jonathan Davies, while the evergreen Alun Wyn Jones is also a world-class talent, and they will be raring to go for this huge game. If Wales can clinch a famous win, they would fancy their chances of winning the tournament, as they have home games against England and Ireland to look forward to.
Italy are usually the whipping boys of the Six Nations, and Scotland are heavy favourites to beat them in the opener. The Scots have won their last six games against the Italians, so that is perhaps understandable, but Italy are constantly improving and they may just surprise a few people. The Sporting Index traders put Ireland at the top of the Outright Index, with an index of 43-46, followed by England, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy.
Six Nations Total Points: High or Low?
The Six Nations Total Points market is typically a popular option for rugby fanatics that want to ramp up the excitement they experience when watching the Six Nations, and the word from the Sporting Index trading floor is that Italy’s three home games should see a lower total points tally than last year. But this is countered by a resurgent England having three home fixtures against statistically the three weakest sides, where there’s a danger of Eddie Jones’ men running rampant.
England could certainly have plenty of joy in their home games against France, Italy and Scotland. There were 682 total points in last season’s Six Nations. The highest tally was 803 in 2000, while the lowest was 534 in 2013. This year the spread is pitched at 665-680.
Will we see a higher or lower total points tally in the 2019 Six Nations? Check out all our Six Nations spread betting markets, including the Total Points market here.