Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Guinness Six Nations 2020: Outright Preview

Guinness Six Nations 2020: Outright Preview

Mathieu Bastareaud of France takes the ball into contact

The 2020 Guinness Six Nations will get underway on Saturday the 1st of February. Darry Worthington runs the rule over the outright betting.

This year's Six Nations is set to be a massively intriguing one with only France and England retaining their coaches from last year's edition of the tournament. While there have been massive changes at the managerial level we could also see sweeping changes to playing staff with a number of coaches already proclaiming they are looking to blood younger players with an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports.

Outright Betting
England 8/10
Ireland 7/2
Wales 11/2
France 7/1
Scotland 20/1
Italy 500/1


Five Young Guns to Watch at the 2020 Six Nations

One player from each Six Nations squad to keep an eye on.

England
2019 Finish: Second

The Rugby World Cup runners-up head into this one as hot favourites but this may be something of an overaction by the books.

While I do think they should be favourites, they are far too short at 8/10 considering that head coach Eddie Jones has indicated that a lot of new names being thrown in the midst with this comment ""I tell you what happens to teams – they evolve. Some guys will lose desire, some guys will lose fitness, some guys will get injuries and there’ll be young guys come through. So this team is finished now. There will be a new team made. We’ll make a new team for the Six Nations and that new team for the Six Nations will be the basis of going to the next World Cup."

There's also the Saracens issue to consider with the London giants having a number of international stars on their books. The club might try and negotiate a deal with Jones where a few of their big guns miss the weeks where the Gallagher Premiership runs concurrently with the Six Nations.

A move like this would make sense as it would allow Jones to lighten the workloads of the likes of Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell.

Sam Underhill carries the ball for England in the RWC semi-final against New Zealand
Sam Underhill's relentless work around the park will be vital to the English cause.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports.

Key Player: Sam Underhill
The loose forward was an absolute beast at last year's Rugby World Cup, winning a staggering 69 tackles.

He is a no-nonsense flanker who will be crucial to the English cause. He recently signed a new three-year deal with Bath and will likely resume his outstanding back-row partnership with Sale's Tom Curry.

France
2019 Finish: Fourth

Le Bleu are likely to field a very young but highly talented side in this year's edition of the tournament. The likes of Romain Ntamack and Dembe Bamba thrust into the international stage last year and they now are better for it and look ready to lead a French renaissance.

The one point of concern is over French coach Jaques Brunel. While the mutiny rumours at the Rugby World Cup were put to bed rather quickly, you have to feel there was an element of truth to them. Has he lost the dressing room? Or was it a case of the now-departed senior core having thrown their toys out the pram?

Whatever the case may be, Brunel will need to rebuild this squad as he has lost a number of players who turned out for the national side last year. Thankfully, there are more talented youngsters coming through the French ranks that could well replicate the feats of the now firmly established Ntamack and Bamba.

Romain Ntamack of France signals with a thumbs up
The likes of Romain Ntamack are leading a French rugby renaissance after a few disappointing years.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports.

Key Player: Romain Ntamack
The youngster started four of France's five 2019 World Cup games and certainly impressed. While he was somewhat off with the boot against Argentina during the pool phase, he looked good in all the rest of the games he featured in.

He now has 12 international caps and looks ready to kick on in 2020. Keep in mind that the Toulouse pivot is just 20-years-old and is only set to get better.

Ireland
2019 Finish: Third

Ireland will be looking to put the horror of last year's World Cup behind them when they begin life under new coach Andy Farrell. There should be some continuity with Farrell at the helm as he worked under former head coach Joe Schmidt for just under three years.

It may not actually be the best thing having Farrell - who is something of a lurking ghost of the Schmidt era - taking over the helm as Ireland really lacked new and innovative ideas last season, with their stale gameplan being exposed by all and sundry in both the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup.

One also gets the feeling that Ireland's stars really believed their own hype last year, and if Farrell doesn't put a pin in their inflated egos, by selecting some outsiders and younger players, then this Ireland side is likely to have a poor Six Nations.

Johnny Sexton of Ireland kicks out of hand against New Zealand in their 2019 RWC quarter-final
Johnny Sexton and co were brought rudely back down to Earth in the 2019 Six Nations and RWC.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports. 

Key Player: Bundee Aki
He was one of the few players who really put up a fight in Japan. It was notable how porous the Irish defence became after he copped a ban for a dangerous tackle against Samoa.

With Johnny Sexton's workload likely to be managed and Joey Carbery missing through injury, Aki is going to have a key role in guiding whichever Irish youngster steps up into the number 10 jersey.

Italy
2019 Finish: Sixth

Will the Azzuri finally end their winless Six Nations streak which stretches back to a Murrayfield win in 2015 or will it be more doom and gloom under new coach Franco Venter?

While the Italians are unlikely to win anything this year, they will be interesting to watch under Cheetahs head coach Franco Venter. It will also be good to see former captain Sergio Parise receive a proper send-off as his scheduled farewell game against New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis hitting the country.

Sergio Parisse of Italy during the Guinness Six Nations match between Italy and France
Parisse - the third-most capped international of all time - will bow out of Test rugby at the 2019 Six Nations.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports. 

Player to Watch: Sergio Parisse
This is a very sentimental one and Parisse is only likely to play two games but there's no doubting the former Italian skipper will put in mammoth shifts during those final two fixtures.

It's a pity that the 36-year-old failed to make Italy's 35-man squad as he still offers a lot to the Italian cause. That said, he is set for a home farewell appearance against either Scotland or England.

Scotland
2019 Finish: Fifth

Will this Scottish side finally live up to the hype or will it be another year of underachievement from the men in tartan.

Last year saw Gregor Towsend's men finish way down in fifth place. And while they did play some great rugby at times - their come-from-behind draw against the English was one of the most eye-catching displays of 2019 - they lacked consistency.

Their stars players will need to come to the forefront this term, particularly their back division who failed to deliver in both the Six Nations and the World Cup last year.

Finn Russell of Scotland during the Rugby World Cup match between Japan and Scotland
Scotland are a much more dangerous side when Finn Russell is firing in midfield.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports. 

Key Player: Finn Russell
He really did not shoot the lights out last year. Scotland is a much better side when Russell is on song. Their only chance of winning this tournament is a firing Finn.

His move from Glasgow to Racing has reinvigorated his career and he has become one of the best pivots in European club rugby with his club sitting well clear atop a Heineken Champions Cup pool containing the likes of Saracens and Munster.

Wales
2019 Finish: Champions

The reigning champions will be looking to kick start the Wayne Pivac Six Nations era in the exact same manner they capped of the Warren Gatland era; with a win.

The Welsh were a rather pragmatic side under Gatland and the early signs are that they'll be a lot more expansive under Pivac. Whether this works or not remains to be seen.

Pivac does have a very handy squad at his disposal, with the majority of players seasoned veterans and a lot of young talented players coming through. For my money, he needs to throw these youngsters into the mix as it will add life into what looked like a rather stale Welsh side during the closing salvos of 2019.

Gareth Anscombe of Wales is tackled by a Scottish defender.
Gareth Anscombe returns to the Welsh side with a point to prove after missing the World Cup.
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports. 

Key Player: Gareth Anscombe
Wales were really unlucky to lose Anscombe in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup as he is a player who can really get a backline firing.

He'll be wanting to make up for lost time, and you can expect a big showing from the former Aucklander.

Verdict: Ireland 7/2
The smart money is definitely on England but I just feel that the Saracens' saga may well affect them. They just don't seem worth backing at 8/10 with all the behind the scenes drama still unfolding.

I do fancy the Irish at 7/2. They're a good side and that is a great price.

Scotland will blow hot and cold as they always do, while I reckon the Welsh will take a bit of time to adjust to a new system under Pivac.

France could surprise but it would take a brave man to back a who are famously inconsistent.

The only certainty this year is that the Italians will finish last.

Fixtures

Round 1

Saturday 1 February
Wales v Italy
Ireland v Scotland

Sunday 2 February
France v England

Round 2

Saturday 8 February
Ireland v Wales
Scotland v England

Sunday 9 February
France v Italy

Round 3

Saturday 22 February
Italy v Scotland
Wales v France

Sunday 23 February
England v Ireland

Round 4

Saturday 7 March
Ireland v Italy
England v Wales

Sunday 8 March
Scotland v France

Round 5

Saturday 14 March
Wales v Scotland
Italy v England

Sunday 15 March
France v Ireland

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