England stank out the World Cup but a new coaching regime should ensure a better effort in this year’s Six Nations. France reached the last eight last autumn but could not match the strength of New Zealand. Nicola Sturgeon has still not got over Scotland’s controversial defeat to Australia in the quarter-finals but how the players react is more pertinent in the context of betting on the European championship.
Ireland and Wales reached the stage that their rankings suggested in the World Cup while Italy only beat the minnows in their pool. There were few upsets in just about a sell out tournament but fans in Brighton will never forget Japan’s win over South Africa in one of the biggest upsets not only in rugby union but all sport. It’s now a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show and the bread and butter of the Six Nations.
In what must be a rare arrangement the two main terrestrial TV channels in the UK are sharing the coverage. Fans can see every match on free-to-air TV which is welcome but could affect the narrative. ITV will show England’s home matches while the BBC have picked up some of the crumbs but Sky Sports and BT Sport will be nowhere to be seen.
The battle for viewers in the studio will be just as intense as the clashes on the field. ITV can utilise commercial breaks and it will be interesting to see if betting is promoted by Ray Winstone and some lesser known actors and minor celebrities. Rugby union has never embraced betting and in light of tennis’s problems this might not be the right time to report on fluctuations in the in-play handicap markets.
There is a theory that a side that are favourites to win a match at the outset will drop a level at half-time if the fixture is won. That trend has implications for the updated handicaps because bookmakers tend to use a predefined calculation when adjusting the start given by the better team. The flow of the game is a factor that must be assessed when betting in the handicap markets during a match.
Betting on the outcome of a match is the most popular rugby union betting market. This involves betting on a home win, draw or away win. Many rugby union matches have big favourites and their price is too restrictive to bet on the outright result. Handicaps are applied to these games to attract two way business. The purpose of a handicap is to make the outcome in effect a two way as the favourites have to win a match by a specified number of points or more to cover the handicap.
Total points are also projected on the basis of previous outcomes but weather conditions must not be ignored. Wet and windy weather makes it more difficult to control the ball but easier to defend which makes for relatively low scoring games with not many tries. Betting on the first scoring play becomes easier as penalties are more likely but this is reflected in the odds but not often enough.
The four British teams now have overseas coaches, three from New Zealand and an Australian. Stuart Lancaster and his regime paid the price for a dismal World Cup and the new England head coach is Eddie Jones from Australia. His approach and modus operandi is based on hard training, a keen eye for detail during matches, hard working staff and short bursts of training with a purpose and focused on skill improvement.
Scotland, Ireland and Wales are coached by Kiwis so for the first time the Six Nations this year will not involve a coach from Britain and Ireland. On World Cup form Scotland should be the team to beat as long as they have fully recovered from the shocking decision that cost them the quarter-final with Australia in the World Cup. The referee disappeared quickly which must have made his horrendous bad call even more galling.
Wales have stuck with Warren Gatland even though his name was mentioned in the context of the new England coach after the World Cup. Wales achieved just about what was expected and their great chance had been four years earlier. The window of opportunity to be competitive at world championship level has closed and teams from the Southern Hemisphere have widened the gap.
France will always be referred to with the phrase ‘you never know what to expect from France’ but the bookies have looked at the fixtures and what they expect from France is coming fourth in the Six Nations ahead of Scotland and Italy. Winning the Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield against Scotland yesterday was essential for England to get things back on track.
Chris Robshaw will never be allowed to forget the flawed call to go for a line-out in the crucial World Cup group match against Wales. That decision ultimately cost him the England captaincy and Dylan Hartley is the new man in charge on the field. Hartley at his best is the right choice.
Jones has coached three national teams and worked at two World Cups but looking after England is totally different. The other sides in the Six Nations give a bit extra when they play England because of perceived arrogance and superiority. England are favourites in just about every fixture with another European nation and rarely enjoy the lack of pressure from underdog status.
Jones likes to take all the responsibility and is not a great one for specialist coaches. Lancaster had a coterie of lieutenants at the World Cup and England did not get out of the group. Jones will be a full-time coach and not somebody who organises his assistants. This approach is worth a shot after the debacle of the World Cup and England look worthy favourites to win the Six Nations and get the nation back on side.