It may lack the ultimate glamour of the World Cup, but six nations rugby betting is as intense as the competition itself.
England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy meet every spring for a competition which has a ferocity and national interest few tournaments can match.
Online bookmakers have been quick to catch the six nations betting bug and regularly present a swath of free bets to punters through the internet.
Most Six nations bets highlight the perennial quest for the holy grail of a grand slam win – and results in recent years have shown the odds on such success are shortening.
Wales, Ireland and France have all completed a clean sweep on their way to the title in the past three years and the men from across the Channel will again start as the favourites in 6 nations betting markets this year.
But six nations bets must be placed with one eye on the World Cup as the game’s leading countries now operate on a four-year cycle aiming at maximising their chance of lifting the world crown.
It follows that Six nations betting odds must be studied in the context of the four-year cycle as there is more likelihood of upsets in fixtures when some of the game’s leading lights have bowed out of the top ranks.
Home comforts dominate when you’re seeking to profit from betting on six nations success. England have the largest stadium in Twickenham, but the Irish and French have made their homes formidable fortresses.
Not surprisingly, live six nations betting has become increasingly popular as the series of matches are increasingly spread across weekends. Furthermore, as one rugby expert pointed out, a bet on six nations outcomes has, as many punters have discovered, considerable scope for being successful.
“Perhaps the greatest thing about six nations betting is the variety of winners. In the past three years alone, we have seen different victors and it is worth remembering that England, who have reached the last two World Cup finals, have not won the competition since 2003. It might be worth a bet on six nations success for the English this time around.
“Italy have always been the also-rans in 6 nations betting, competing with the Scots for the dubious honour of the wooden spoon in recent seasons. Their fixtures are often extremely close affairs, the results of which invariably have a bearing on who will finish bottom.
“But as more money is poured into the Italian game, there is going to come a time when they upset predictions and beat another UK-based team on a consistent basis.
“6 Nations betting odds offer enormous variety. Tournament winners, Triple Crowns, Calcutta Cup, leading scorers, most tries, most penalties. There will be 6 nations betting markets on all. Moreover as internet-based six nations betting grows in popularity, with the matches played over three days, the range of odds, and appeal of a six nations bet is bound to expand, particularly when any online bookmaker worth his salt will add to the appeal of 6 nations betting odds by throwing in a free bet or two. .
“Online bookmakers will make France and Ireland the six nations rugby betting favourites this time around.
“But a lot of tips will back England. We are coming around to a world cup again and Martin Johnson’s men are likely to have improved in six nations betting odds this year.
“The rest of the home nations are a mixed bag. Wales seem to move from the sublime to the ridiculous each year and perhaps offer the best value online six nations betting odds because no-one knows what they are going to get from the men from the valleys. A six nations bet on Scotland to beat England is always worthy of consideration – that is the one match which matters most north of the border – but the men in blue have also shown themselves capable of losing badly to the likes of Italy so the predictor has to be careful.”
My prediction? A six nations bet on France or Ireland to win the title will not be wide of the mark.