Why Are the 2021 Six Nations Odds Close When Most People Can’t See Past England?
Picture the scene. The Six Nations is about to get underway, and the excitement is on the verge of boiling over. Among the many things you would expect – a chorus of Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and opposing fans laughing and joking in harmony – you would be surprised if there wasn’t constant chatter about the outcome.
Trying to predict the winners and losers before a ball is kicked is one of sports little contradictions, yet supporters and pundits love the painstaking detail and guesswork that goes into their predictions. 2021 is no different because the bookmakers’ odds see England as favourites at evens in the Six Nations odds, but there are a number of strong contenders for their crown.
Less than 3 weeks to go…..
Which game are you most excited for?#GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/h1fguDKipP
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) January 18, 2021
A Resurgent France
Les Bleus are one of the sport’s greatest teams, with a rich history of attacking rugby that is supported by their passionate fanbase. Sadly, France’s rugby union team has gone off the boil in recent years, leaving the Six Nations open for the likes of England, Ireland and Wales to share the spoils. Thankfully, it appears as if their form is turning around.
Firstly, they put in a fine display at the 2019 World Cup, only losing to a Wales side that reached the semi-finals by a single point. In the 2020 Six Nations, The Blues finished on the same points (18) as eventual winners England, who only took the trophy due to a superior points difference. And, the only team to beat England was, you guessed it, France on the opening day. France’s odds of 5/2 highlight the dangers they pose.
Only Ireland can boast of similarly competitive odds, so the bookies clearly feel France have the weapons to cause the red and white Army a lot of headaches.
Ireland’s Strong Squad
Ireland is another nation that bookmakers firmly believe have an opportunity to take home Six Nations silverware in March. At only a fraction of the odds of England and France for the outright win, the logic behind this Irish side’s chances is the strength of the squad, which features a host of world-class and young, exciting players for the future.
It appears that legendary skipper, Brian O’Driscoll, agrees as he has picked his own Ireland side that he would like to see start against Wales in February, and it has some surprising admissions. For example, the in-form Rhys Ruddock and Bundee Aki are the most notable exclusions. However, there is room for No 8, Caelan Doris, and Tadhg Furlong to join Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton and Jacob Stockdale in a formidable line-up.
The strength-in-depth is something England and France will be wary of since head coach, Andy Farrell, will be able to rotate men without sacrificing the standard of rugby.
Scotland’s Tartan Army
At 20/1, Scotland aren’t expected to win the Six Nations. It would be a huge shock if they overcome the general consensus. Yet, the nation’s recent revival in form means they could cause upsets along the way, opening up the tournament even further. Not only did Scotland have an excellent 2020 Six Nations campaign, but they finished fourth in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, too, in front of Wales, Italy Georgia and Fiji. In Racing 92 fly-half, Finn Russell, the Tartan Army has a weapon that will cause world-class defences many problems.
The Bottom Line
Scotland might not win it, and England are still the favourites, but there are enough pitfalls for the reigning champions to come unstuck and leave the door open for a host of nations.