February gets off to an exciting start with the start of the 2021 Six Nations Championship. England are the defending champions and are the favourites to win this year too. Last year also saw England win the Autumn Nations Cup, so they will be hard to beat. Hot on their heels will be France who were runners-up in both of those 2020 competitions. The 2021 Six Nations Championship begins on Saturday 6 February. It concludes with three matches on Saturday 20 March..
Let's take a quick look at the teams and some of the Six Nations statistics.
|Country||Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Scored||Conceded||Bonus Points||Points Difference||Total Points|
Ireland won the Six Nations title in 2018 and the following year were ranked number one in the world. They have had some struggles since with a disappointing World Cup and two third place finishes in the Six Nations. Only the top two of England and France beat them last year. Their new coaching team is gradually getting results and with home games against France and England this year, they could have a successful year.
England are the reigning champions and have a strong chance of retaining their title. They only won on points difference last year but only France were able to beat them. This year, they have France coming to Twickenham and that will strengthen their chances of another success. Their squad has some injuries but England will expect to be able to cope with them.
Wales won both the Six Nations and the Grand Slam in 2019 but had a much worse 2020. A win over Italy in their opening game of the 2020 Six Nations championship was followed by four defeats. Two more games were lost in the Autumn Nations Cup, so they need to improve this year. Their new coach is making changes and some younger players have been getting their chance. A title challenge looks unlikely but they'll do better than the fifth they finished in last year.
Scotland finished fourth last year, one place better than in 2019. They did show some improvement with three victories, including a home win over France and a win in Wales. This year their first three games of the championship include away matches against England and France. Another fourth place finish looks on the cards, especially if they can beat Wales and Ireland at home.
Not since 2010 have France won the Six Nations Championship. They lost out on points difference last year, even after beating the winners England and third placed Ireland. France also reached the final of the Autumn Nations Cup, losing to England after extra time but had several key players missing. They will again be challengers but have away games against England and Ireland. If they are to get a title win, they will have to do it the hard way.
If you go to an Italian kitchen you will find it full of wooden spoons. They have finished bottom in each of the past five years and lost all 25 of their matches played. Many believe they shouldn't be in this championship and a country such as Georgia should replace them. Last year they even failed to score in two of their five Six Nations matches. There is some hope with younger players coming through and home games might not see such heavy losses but another wooden spoon is on the way to their kitchen.
There are several factors that you need to consider when placing bets on the Six Nations Championship. Look at areas such as current form, the team news (are there key players missing or returning to action?), whether a team is strong at home or on their travels and the importance of the match.
The Six Nations takes place over 5 weekends, with a total of 15 games - each team plays each other only once. The points system of the Six Nations is as follows: