Planet Rugby

Green or blue feel for our Tipster

01st February 2012 11:01

Share:

Sean OBrien Ireland v France World Cup warm-up Aug 2011

Ireland: Fourth favourites?!

Brace yourself for five rounds of big games where national pride and hurt goes on the line in what our Tipster hopes will be a profitable two months.

There is little doubt that RWC events have left a rather sour taste in the mouth of some outfits - Scotland with England is one that jumps out.

Furthermore, Ireland will feel they have unfinished business when they meet Wales for what has turned out to be a fitting opening week of clashes.

Such is the magnitude of the showdowns that we simply had to get Ben Hathaway back in the mix and he now gives us the rugby betting lowdown.

So without further ado, let's see where Ben is putting his money. Any questions or comments for the man? Twitter: @TheHathawayFund.

Click here to compare odds on Rugby Union with Oddschecker.com!

Six Nations

This Six Nations sees a lot of teams in transition: England, France and Italy have new coaches and a host of new players. Wales could struggle to match the heights achieved during Rugby World Cup 2011, and Scotland, well Scotland just want to score some tries. This leaves Ireland, missing the talismanic Brian O'Driscoll but blessed with quality and experience in almost every position. If they can overcome Wales in Round One, will the Six Nations boil down to a titanic struggle in Paris between Les Bleus et Les Verts? Peut-Ítre.

The bookmakers see it slightly differently. France are their standout favourites, with 2.7 being offered on exchange. Next come Wales, justifiably perhaps given their RWC at 4.4, then the Red Rose at 5.5, Ireland at 5.7, Scotland at 29.0 while Italy are written off at 390.

First impressions. Ireland are the standout value here. I see them as second favourites and only this as they have to go to Paris. Potential value in Scotland perhaps. I'd almost be tempted by the borderline absurd price on offer for Italy if they didn't have the opener in France, where they could concede a few. Trends: oppose England on outrights, back Italy and Scotland in home games on handicap. Taking a good position on Ireland at a huge 5.7.

Wales

I am talking them down because of injuries. Taking eight players out of the World Cup side, including Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts, and any side will struggle against Ireland. Dan Lydiate and Gethin Jenkins are two fine players missing too, and I'd question whether they can match what they achieved in New Zealand. That been said, their defence is usually solid and they will be hard to beat, but I think both Ireland and France will be able to do so.

England

Where do you start here? I remain convinced that until England establish a balanced pack with a genuine openside that has pace to arrive at the breakdown they will struggle. Come the end of their game at Murrayfield, I can see them having three blindsides on the pitch again. Elsewhere, the front-row looks weak, bearing in mind the age of the potential starters, all could be world beaters in a few seasons but I don't think England have a top class front rower at present. England are consistently overbacked. They could fire but with so many players with no or very few caps in both the pack and backs, they may well struggle.

France

Only France could lose to Italy and Tonga and then almost win a World Cup final. To have players effectively ignore the coach, making him almost irrelevant, is again something phenomenally French. Now, under Philippe Saint-Andre, with a new midfield tyro in Wesley Fofana, a very strong set-piece, and potentially the best back-row in world rugby when they click, is the Six Nations theirs to lose? I'd say yes. Three home games: Italy "should" be a formality, and I think they will have too much for England. Ireland will be a tough game, admittedly, and the French will view visits to Murrayfield and the Millennium Stadium with equal unease. If they play well, they could win most of their games by beating handicap, within reason. But then again, this is a French rugby team, and usually the only time I like backing them is when they are underdogs. Also, if they can play to the best of their abilities, then midfield duo Fofana and Aurelien Rougerie will take some stopping. I believe only Ireland can deny them, unless they crumble in Cardiff - which they have done before.

Scotland

Not as bad as people think. 29.0 is just a huge price. Take a tiny nibble at it. If they overcome England, they'll come in drastically, and I don't see them much worse than even money to do so. Their pack is good, even by international standards. Kelly Brown is a loss but 1-8 they will front up. They can achieve parity at least against most teams. No, they aren't going to score tries for fun, but, neck on the line, they will surely get a couple. I despair at them losing Joe Ansbro, which means their backs do look poor, but head coach Andy Robinson will get Scotland playing to their strengths. Expect the Scots to be the "nearly-men" of this 2012 tournament. There will be definite value in them getting inside handicaps, and outright betting could prove value as they will keep games close. Finally, their set-piece is pretty decent and throw in a bit of rain and they will trouble sides at Murrayfield.

Italy

Again, like Scotland, they have a decent pack. People will rave about Sergio Parisse but his back-row colleague Alessandro Zanni was fantastic last year while their front-row will fancy it against anyone. Their backs don't look outstanding, a lot will be expected of Andrea Masi at 15 yet the question over who will start at number 10 remain. Who will kick the goals? I would expect them to lose comfortably on the road, but compete well in every home game. However, if they concede early in France they could be on the wrong end of a big score.

Ireland

I think if they win in France next week they could just about sneak a Grand Slam. The blend of experience and youth is excellent, and they have game-breakers all over the pitch. Stephen Ferris and Sean O'Brien almost guarantee front-foot ball, and I think they have one of the best hookers around in Rory Best. Jonathan Sexton should move the ball wisely and nail his goals which is why I feel 5.7 is a simply monstrous price on offer and should be taken. How they are fourth favourites is beyond me. I'm relatively confident they can come through a tough test against the Welsh, giving them momentum into the second week.

Welcome any thoughts and discussions on here or on Twitter, @thehathawayfund

Tournament bets

Ireland for outright 6N @ 5.7
France for Grand Slam 4.9
Julien Malzieu top try scorer 9.0
Scotland outright at 29.0 (look to trade out at shorter price mid tourney)

Initial weekend bets

Ireland to beat Wales (outright)
Scotland to beat England (+handicap)
France to win well at home to Italy

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 6
Saracens vs Wasps14:00
Sale vs Bath14:00
Leicester vs Newcastle15:00
London Irish vs Harlequins16:30
Sunday , September 7
London Welsh vs Exeter14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 6
New Zealand vs Argentina08:35
Australia vs South Africa11:05
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 5
Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Munster vs Edinburgh19:35
Saturday , September 6
Scarlets vs Ulster14:40
Connacht vs Newport Gwent D'gons17:00
Glasgow vs Leinster17:15
Sunday , September 7
Zebre vs Cardiff Blues17:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 5
Montpellier vs Castres20:45
Saturday , September 6
Brive vs Toulouse14:45
Clermont Auvergne vs Racing Metro Paris17:00
Lyon vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bayonne18:30
Grenoble vs La Rochelle18:30
Toulon vs Bordeaux-Begles20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 5
Western Province vs Eastern Province Kings19:10
Saturday , September 6
Cheetahs vs Pumas15:00
Sharks vs Griquas17:05
Blue Bulls vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki 41 - 3 Bay Of PlentyTaranaki vs Bay Of Plenty Report
Auckland 16 - 16 TasmanAuckland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle 37 - 25 ToulouseLa Rochelle vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax 33 - 6 Stade Francais
Castres 30 - 6 BayonneCastres vs Bayonne Report
Racing Metro Paris 17 - 10 ToulonRacing Metro Paris vs Toulon Report
Lyon 24 - 6 Brive
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 25 - 36 CheetahsGriquas vs Cheetahs Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 41 LionsEastern Province Kings vs Lions Report
Blue Bulls 18 - 23 Western ProvinceBlue Bulls vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 21 - 27 Hawkes BayCounties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay Report
Southland 22 - 33 Otago
North Harbour 16 - 22 WaikatoNorth Harbour vs Waikato Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne 20 - 21 MontpellierClermont Auvergne vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 32 - 22 SharksPumas vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Wellington 21 - 27 ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Report
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury 48 - 3 NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Report
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00