Betting: No Slam winners looks a Grand bet
Grand Slams aren’t won in a day and when England step out in Rome on Sunday they’ll know that beating Italy is just a very small step on the road to Six Nations glory.
Though highly expected to get off to the perfect start against the Azzurri at 1/12, you won’t see anything like those odds when Eddie Jones’ side take on Europe’s four heavyweights over the coming weeks.
Any of Scotland, Wales, Ireland or France could derail England’s hopes of retaining their Six Nations crown and a repeat of 2016’s Grand Slam heroics looks a big ask.
Due to injury woes, England have drifted in the outright betting and can be backed at around 10/11 having been as short as 4/11 immediately after last year’s tournament.
Ireland are solid second favourites at 6/4, while Scotland are a very exciting prospect this year given their recent form and shouldn’t be dismissed at 10/1.
England must navigate Le Crunch on French soil and you can never discount the Welsh, particularly after they broke English hearts at the 2015 World Cup.
In short, this year’s Six Nations looks ultra-competitive and the short price about England successfully defending their crown doesn’t appeal.
In its 134-year history, no nation has won three-in-a-row and I’m not convinced England should be odds-on to rewrite the record books.
Instead, taking the evens with 188BET on there being no Grand Slam winner looks a great bet, and the 15/8 on no Triple Crown winner isn’t bad either.
Since Eddie Jones took over, backing England has been an easy enough game to play.
A powerful Grand Slam win in 2016 was followed by an unprecedented whitewash Down Under and England looked simply unstoppable.
But when Ireland handed England their first defeat in 22 games in last year’s tournament, the enormity of winning a Grand Slam was further realised.
The Red Rose head into this year’s competition somewhat depleted too.
Though fitness boosts for the likes of Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw and Maro Itoje have certainly steadied the ship, filling the boots of Billy Vunipola at the back of the scrum is nigh on impossible and England are lacking in that department.
Vunipola gives England that extra bit of oomph required to break the game line and crash over for tries from close distance, and with his deputy Nathan Hughes also injured, assigning the number eight shirt looks a real problem.
As shown last year, Ireland can go toe to toe with England and come out on top.
They head into this year’s tournament with wins over South Africa and Argentina during the autumn and have won 10 of their last 12 internationals.
The two losses have come against Scotland and Wales, further highlighting the closeness in quality of the opposition at this year’s Six Nations.
At an outside punt, I like Scotland at 10/1.
The Scots are fast-improving and will have their day in the sun at some point in the very near future if they keep progressing.
Having beaten Australia twice in 2017 and getting to within a score of toppling the All Blacks, Gregor Townsend’s men haven’t arrived at the Six Nations in this sort of form in some time.
Though recent injuries have left their front-row depleted, 10/1 looks too big a price to miss.
No Grand Slam – Evs(188BET)
Scotland outright – 10/1 (General)