Champions League 2016-17
Premier League 2016-17
French Ligue 1 2016-17
Italian Serie A 2016-17
La Liga 2016-17
German Bundesliga 2016-17
2018 World Cup qualifiers
Europa League 2016-17
It is an unmissable championship of European rugby. The ultimate competition between northern nations, all of which maintain a particular rivalry. Winner of the 2016 edition with a Grand Slam as a bonus, England are on a quest for the double, which has not been done since 2000/2001. The English will meet a strong Irish team on their way, while the Welsh will be in search of redemption and France in search of improvement. Scotland will want to take their place among the giants of the continent, while Italy are counting on their performance against South Africa last November to carry over to the 6 Nations and get them a few results. This 2017 Six Nations tournament will be one of the most exciting of this decade.
Unbeaten throughout the year 2016 (13 wins), the English were incredible. It is very simple: England 15 did everything better than their rivals. Constantly improving, England who were dominant in all regions of the pitch, carried by a team crafted over the years to win the World Cup on their home soil. Motivated by their elimination, the English came back twice as strong with Eddie Jones, the brains of the heroic victory in Japan against the Books in this same competition. When he managed to persuade a group almost identical to the one embarrassed in the World Cup that he was the best, Jones made England a mean machine. The English will start their Six Nations campaign defending their Grand Slam in Twickenham against the French and will finish it in Dublin, in a game that everyone looks to as the final of this competition.
England’s victory is proposed at odds of 4/5.
If one nation is capable of depriving the English of the title, it is Ireland. For the first time in history, the Irish confirmed that they were well able when they ended the All Blacks’ 18 consecutive win streak in Chicago late last year.
With a huge group composed mainly of players playing with the province of Leinster, the winners of the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Tournament look to be in great form. The men in green pray only to see their leader Sexton evolve, after years of injuries and numerous concussions. A key player in the squad, he illuminates the game, launches his forwards into battle and wins matches from his boot. Rugby is a formidable team sport but every team needs a game changer. In Ireland, it's Sexton. Joe Schmidt’s men will have to play away three times to Italy, Scotland, and Wales, but will not accept defeat before the last day where we will see England make the trip to Dublin (18/03). Put this date in your calendar!
Ireland’s victory is proposed at 9/4
The French team have a lot to do after their humiliation (62-13) suffered against the All Blacks in the quarterfinal of the 2015 World Cup. Brought in when the Blues were no longer respected, Guy Novès is about to take part in his first great challenge. Is he the one to make France great again?
Finishing in fifth in the 2016 tournament with a courageous victory against Ireland (10-9) but also a loss to Scotland and a close call against Italy at the Stade de France (23-21), the French were revealed during the November Test-games. Beaten by Australia (23-25) and New Zealand (19-24), the Blues appear rejuvenated. They appear more explosive, like their wingers Nakaitaci / Vakatawa, both of Fijian origin. The brilliant Bordeaux opener Jean-Baptiste Serin took advantage and proved himself as he now has his place in the starting 15.
The French team is not at the level of England or even of Ireland but they seem superior to the three other nations of Europe. With many young talents and the promise of rebuilding through play, the Blues are capable of anything.
It is difficult to judge the level of the Welsh as they have been inconsistent in recent months. Sometimes incoherent collectively, the dragons seem to struggle to play as a team. A dominant nation a few years ago, this team also suffers from a serious lack of speed, because of the older players in their ranks. The young are slow to come through the ranks and they are still a group composed of many old talents like, Jenkins, Biggar, North, Roberts and Charteris.
Ridiculed in Cardiff by Australia in November (8-32) before finishing the test-match campaign with a great success against South Africa (27-13), the Welsh are capable of the best and the worst. They will have to count on their playmaker Halfpenny, one of the top scorers in the world. It will also be necessary to watch closely the young winger Keelan Giles, exploding in club rugby with the Ospreys. The young gun has a fire in his legs and proves that the next generation in Wales is on the way up. If they can be consistent and correct their lack of discipline, this team can be capable of anything. Their victory is proposed at (6).
It is not the talent that is lacking in Scotland. With well-trimmed back lines including Hogg, Jones, Laidlow and Russell, the Thistle XV is armed to hurt any defense. Although their forwards are not the heaviest or most technical of the Tournament, they are capable of causing an upset, while the giant Richie Gray often takes care to ensure victory.
What is the problem with Scotland? Since Vern Cotter took control of the selection, they have not had a stable pillar to rely on, the Scots are not yet vicious enough. They have a horrible habit of losing games with a lot resting on them with the World cup quarter final in 2015. A game that showed the Scots that they themselves still needed to grow. If they are to win this year, they’re proposed at ( 25) it will only occur under complicated circumstances, the Scots count on these five games to progress.
The Italians will become dangerous once they are no longer associated with the word courage. The heart is still and always the best weapon of the Azzurri. They unfortunately cannot match the talent in this tournament and that often leads straight to the wooden spoon. Beaten five times last year, Parisse's teammates do not have the same bench as their competitors and will not be able to maintain the level required throughout the duration of the Tournament.
Be careful not to underestimate the Italians however. South Africa fell victim to this last November and left Rome with one of the most humiliating defeats in their history. An exploit once again isolated by Parisse and his teammates, beaten a week later at home by Tonga. This team is able to implode but can also count on a big pack to make a difference.
Article "Six Nations 2017" updated in 29/05/2017
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