Six Nations Preview: England v Scotland
The Six Nations is back with a bang. On opening weekend, England and Scotland go head-to-head for points, bragging rights and the Calcutta Cup. Italy and France kick off the tournament, Wales host Ireland on Sunday… but it’s the tantalising Twickenham clash that we’ve got our eyes on.
The main men
England’s captain and talisman Owen Farrell is always one to watch, possessing bags of talent with both hand and foot. The Saracens fly-half is the heartbeat of this England team and ever-dependable… but he hasn’t kicked a ball in anger since early December. If he can shake off the cobwebs, he’ll take some stopping.
Another one to watch, as always, is Maro Itoje. A man with a glorious and glowing CV, Itoje has just about done it all with club and country. When fit, there isn’t an obvious weakness to his game. Fast on the break, ferocious in the turnover, Itoje is a nightmare for any opposition – it’s no surprise he’s being touted as a future captain of the British & Irish Lions.
On the other side, Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg is a key player for his country. Named Six Nations Player of the Tournament in 2016 and 2017, the work-rate, consistency and attacking threat of the 71-cap full-back will be vital to drive the Scots on.
Hogg forms part of a formidable backline which also includes fly-half Finn Russell, who Hogg has described as a ‘genius’ and one of the best Number 10’s around. Like Farrell, Russell is equally adapt with the ball in his hands as he is with the boot and if Scotland can upset the odds, the 28-year-old is sure to be at the heart of it.
This rivalry has been dominated by England over the years. There have been 138 meetings in all, dating back to 1871. England have won 76, Scotland 43. With 19 draws thrown in for good measure.
When England have been at home, it’s a similar story. Forty-five wins from 67 meetings, with 14 draws and eight wins for the Scots. And it’s that emphatic record which will be what’s bothering the visitors when they head to the home of English rugby this Saturday.
Scotland last won on the southern side of the border in 1983, a 22-12 win at Twickenham. Two years ago, they had the perfect chance to exorcise those demons. Heading for humiliation, the visitors rallied back, scoring 31 unanswered points after trailing 31-7. But with victory in sight, England snatched a try, a conversion, and a draw. Heartbreak. And to compound matters, England regained the Calcutta Cup in last year’s Six Nations tournament on Scottish soil, winning 13-6 at Murrayfield.
Can Scotland bring an end to 38 years of hurt this weekend inside a fan-free Twickenham? With Grosvenor Sport’s rugby betting, they’re 11/2 to do so. A big win is predicted, but it’s rare that this rivalry is so one-sided. You can back England to win by a margin of 1-12 points at 39/20.
Six Nations betting
Six Nations betting is available now with Grosvenor Sport, with outright betting and individual match betting available. England are 5/4 favourites to retain the Six Nations Championship after dominating one year ago.
France are 9/4 and Italy are of course the outsiders at 500/1, but if you fancy one of the other Home Nations, Ireland are 4/1, Wales are 12/1 and the Scots out at 16/1.
Last year, England got the better of all three of their Home Nations to claim the Triple Crown, and they’re 6/4 to do so again. And if you think the Lions can sweep past everyone, they’re 11/10 for the Grand Slam.
In the other Six Nations markets, Jonny May leads the Top Try Scorer betting, while the man who led the charts last year – France’s Charles Ollivon – is a tempting 33/1 shot.
Farrell is clear favourite to finish as the Top Points Scorer at 7/5, with Wales’ Dan Biggar (4/1), Ireland’s Johnny Sexton (9/2) and France’s Matthieu Jalibert next in line at 5/1.
Finally, for the Player of the Tournament, Antoine Dupont shares favouritism with Itoje to take the honour. The Frenchman won it last year, and both he and the England star are 8/1.
*Stated odds correct at time of writing