Guiness Six Nations 2019: Outright Preview



Rugby fans will get their first taste of international rugby in 2019 when the Six Nations kicks off on the 1st of February.

This year's Six Nations is shaping up to be an absolute belter with the top 6 teams in Europe not only looking to lift the prestigious cup but also looking to start the World Cup year on a high.

Reigning champions Ireland come into this one as hot favourites but will face stiff competition from an England squad that will have a number of their key players fit and raring to go. One also cannot rule out the Welsh who looked a real threat during the 2018 November Test window.

To Win Tournament Outright

  • Ireland 8/10
  • England 3/1
  • Wales 9/2
  • Scotland 12/1
  • France 14/1
  • Italy 500/1


Fixtures

Round 1

Friday 1 February

  • France v Wales
  • Stade de France
  • 22:00

Saturday 2 February

  • Scotland v Italy
  • Murrayfield
  • 16:15
  • Ireland v England
  • Aviva Stadium
  • 18:45

Round 2

Saturday 9 February

  • Scotland v Ireland
  • Murrayfield
  • 16:15
  • Italy v Wales
  • Stadio Olimpico
  • 18:45

Sunday 10 February

  • England v France
  • Twickenham Stadium
  • 17:00

Round 3

Saturday 23 February

  • France v Scotland
  • Stade de France
  • 16:15
  • Wales v England
  • Millenium Stadium
  • 18:45


Sunday 24 February

  • Italy v Ireland
  • Stadio Olimpico
  • 17:00

Round 4

Saturday 9 March

  • Scotland v Wales
  • Murrayfield
  • 16:15
  • England v Italy
  • Twickenham
  • 18:45


Sunday 10 March

  • Ireland v France
  • Aviva Stadium
  • 17:00


Round 5

Saturday 16 March


  • Italy v France
  • Stadio Olimpico
  • 14:30

  • Wales v Ireland
  • Millenium Stadium
  • 16:15

Sunday 17 March

  • England v Scotland
  • Twickenham
  • 17:00


Ireland
2018 Finish: Champions and Grand Slam Winners

The reigning champions and re hot favourites to win the tournament will head into this year's championship full of confidence having enjoyed a marvellous close to 2018 that saw them beat the All Blacks.

The Irish certainly have the most talented squad in the tournament with a number of top quality veterans and exciting youth prospects making a perfect blend. They also have a brilliant nine-ten combination in the form of Connor Murray and Jonathon Sexton who are able to control a game with their telepathic like relationship.

The Irish also have a solid forward pack who will lay the foundation for their exciting backline to work off.

Player to Watch: Jordan Larmour
Yes, the more established names like Sexton and Murray will be the key men from the Irish, but if you're looking for some excitement then Larmour is the man you want to keep an eye on. The Leinster young gun has a massive job on his hands trying to usurp ever reliable incumbent fullback Rob Kearney, but if Kearney does get injured then expect Larmour to make a big statement of intent.

 Larmour is also a great runner in broken play and he will no doubt make an impact when he comes on as a 'super sub' during the dying embers of games.

England
2018 Finish: Fifth

Some of the pressure may have been lifted off coach Eddie Jones' shoulders following a few solid November performances but if his side doesn't challenge for Six Nations honours, then the veteran mentor may well find himself under fire again.

His side drastically underperformed during last year's tournament as they only registered two wins on their way to finishing fifth.

The good news for Jones and Co is that a lot of their key players have returned from injury, including talismanic eight Billy Vuniopoala. They'll also have prolific winger Joe Cokansangia at their disposable. The  Bath man enjoyed a breakthrough season last year and will be aiming to carry his prolific try-scoring form into 2019.

Player to Watch: Billy Vuniopoala
It's no coincidence that England have struggled without their ball-carrying number eight. The Saracens destroyer is key to Eddie Jones' plans as he gets the English over the gain line time and time again. If 'Big Billy' can rediscover his 2017 form and stay injury free, then we are likely to see a far better showing from the 2017 champions.

Wales
2018 Finish: Runners-Up

Is there something brewing in Wales? That's a question that is doing the rounds in rugby circles at the minute after the Dragons ended the 2018 season with wins over South Africa, Scotland and Australia.

Now, the Welsh usually hit their straps during a World Cup year, especially during Warren Gatland's tenure at the helm of the national side. They have managed to build some squad depth as well with the likes of Gareth Anscombe and Tomos Williams coming to the fore over the past 16 months.

Despite having a deeper squad, Wales will still need to keep veterans George North and Leigh Halfpenny fit if they are to win this year's tournament. The duo have struggled with concussion injuries, with the latter having just seen a specialist to try and rectify the issue. If the two elder statesmen are fit and firing, then Wales will certainly be a tougher prospect.

Player to Watch: Jonathon Davis
The centre pulled up trees for his national side during last year's November internationals as he caused his opposite numbers all sorts of problems on both attack and defence.

While he isn't the most eye-catching 12 to ever grace a rugby field, he is one of the most consistent offering a hard as nails ball-carrying option off almost every phase. He'll be an absolute rock for the Welsh as they look to record a massive upset and claim a trophy that has eluded them since 2013.

Scotland
2018 Finnish: Third

2018 was rather disappointing for the 'Scots who were a real force during the previous season. While they have still played a very exciting brand of rugby, they haven't got the defensive side of their game right, and, as we all know, most Six Nations tournaments are usually won by the best defensive side.

There is hope for the 'Scots, however, with their midfield axis of Finn Russel, George Horn and Huw Jones one of the most destructive on the planet. The 'Scots will also have fullback Stuart Hogg fit and firing. The Glasgow Warriors back missed huge swaths of last season due to injuries, which left the Scottish backline without their most destructive counter-attacker.

Player to Watch: Finn Russel
The Scottish pivot missed a huge swathe of the November internationals due to club commitments. And while his understudy, Adam Hastings, performed admirably, the 'Scots are a far more dynamic outfit with Russel on the pitch.

France
2018 Finish: Fourth

The appointment of Jaques Brunel as head coach was meant to bring about a change in the French psyche. No longer were Le Bleu going to be a hit-and-miss side. Well, a year and a bit on from him taking ownership of the national side and nothing has changed.

On their day, the French are an exquisite sight to behold but these days have become more rarer and the calamitous performances have become more common. 2018 saw the French lose to Fiji on home soil.

The Le Bleu squad is one of the most unbalanced in the world, and they are far too reliant on individual talents to get them wins. They will be hard pressed to better last year's finish of fourth.

Player to Watch: Gael Fickou
Undoubtedly France's most dynamic back, the 24-year-old will be hoping to avoid injury and stake his claim as one of the best ball-running centres in the game.

Fickou produced some marvellous displays for club and country last year and was one of the standout players during France's ill-fated tour of New Zealand.

He is capable of tearing any defence apart, and he could well be a thorn in the side for opponent's midfielders.

Italy
2018 Finish: Sixth

Connor O'Shea must be the most frustrated rugby coach in the world as his side has failed to build on from that famuos2017 victory over the Springboks. That shock result at the Stadio Olimpico should have assured in a new era for Italian rugby, but instead, it has seen the Italians regress.

The perennial cellar-dwellers will face a tough task bagging a win this term let alone finishing off the foot of the log. While their club sides have got a lot stronger it hasn't translated to the national team who only won two wins last year - a 28-17 home victory over Georgia and a lucky 22-25 away victory over Japan.

Player to Watch: Ian McKinley
The former Irish Under 20 star has a marvellous and tearjerking backstory behind his rise to the Italian national team. McKinely lost the use of his left eye after coping a stray boot to the face during an Irish club game back in 2011. While an early surgery initially corrected his sight, things soon deteriorated and he was forced to go into early retirement.

He subsequently took on a coaching role in Italy but his love for the game soon saw him return to the field as he made his way through the Italian club rugby tiers to eventually earn a contract with PRO14 side Zebre. A move to Treviso the followed, and strong showings for his new club signed earned him a call-up to the Italian team last year.

The former Leinster man now has four international caps to his name and will be eager to make a mark, particularly against his country of birth, during this year's Six Nations.

Verdict: Ireland 8/10
You'd have to be a very brave man to bet against the Irish retaining their crown. Coach Joe Schmidt has assembled a magnificent squad full of seasoned veterans and quality youngsters. I will not be the least surprised if they claim another Grand Slam on their way to defending their title.


Written by Darry Worthington for Hollywoodbets

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