The Six Nations gets underway tonight as France face Wales.
Ahead of the Six Nations kicking off tonight, City University News gives an insight into the hotly anticipated contest which pits Europe’s best against one another.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 1, 2019
Here’s our team-by-team guide ahead of tonight’s opener in the French capital:
Coach: Eddie Jones
Captain: Owen Farrell
Title odds: 3/1
Verdict: After a disastrous 2018 campaign, England will be looking to bounce back. Billy Vunipola’s return from injury could be instrumental to England’s title hopes – he makes a huge difference to his team-mates and to the dynamic of the English forward line.
If given space to move around, Vunipola is a nightmare to stop. Facing arduous trips to both Dublin and Cardiff, England’s notoriously poor away form will be decisive in their hopes to rebound from last year.
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) January 30, 2019
Coach: Warren Gatland
Captain: Alun Wyn Jones
Title odds: 9/2
Verdict: Weighing in as world number three, Wales are a serious threat and have the fixture list to suggest they can mount a serious title challenge this year, with home fixtures against England and the Irish.
Much rests on tonight’s opener, but Gatland made it clear in his press conferences that Wales will be tremendously hard to beat once they gain momentum.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) January 31, 2019
Coach: Joe Schmidt
Captain: Rory Best
Title odds: 5/6
Verdict: Ireland boast strength across the field and can claim to have beaten world champions New Zealand, along with the Six Nations trophy in the cabinet. They seem a tough side to beat, but should it come down to the final weekend, Schmidt has never beaten Wales in Cardiff.
Coach: Gregor Townsend
Captain: Greig Laidlaw
Title odds: 10/1
Verdict: The Scottish have made significant progress under Townsend’s guidance, and while they do not pose a significant threat to the title itself, they certainly have the opportunity to heavily influence who wins it.
Realistically, they should be aiming for victory in their home fixtures against Ireland, Italy and Wales. If they do so, it could put the title chances in England’s favour.
Coach: Jacques Brunel
Captain: Guilhem Guirado
Title odds: 18/1
Verdict: France are probably the most unreliable rugby side in the tournament as they have been remarkably inconsistent for way too long. Halfbacks Camille Lopez and Morgan Parra are the two consistent performers in Les Bleus, and will fight to the death.
Don’t expect any title challenge, but like the Welsh, if they can gain some momentum they’ll be a tough outfit to beat.
— Italrugby (@Federugby) January 31, 2019
Coach: Conor O’Shea
Captain: Sergio Parisse
Title odds: 500/1
Verdict: Italy will be expected to take home the wooden spoon again, as the traditional whipping boys of the Six Nations. Their issue is that all other competitors are improving at the same rate.
Attacking coach Mike Catt will certainly improve their forward line, and could cause defensive issues for the other teams, but it’s hard to see them getting anything more than a few bonus points and a huge amount of experience.
Featured photo via Clive G’ via Flickr