Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Six Nations: Round 1 Preview

Six Nations: Round 1 Preview

Gareth Anscombe breaks a tackle

Shaun Goosen previews the first round of fixtures for the 2020 edition of the Guinness Six Nations.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports 

Saturday 1 February

Wales v Italy
Principality Stadium

To Win Match
Wales 1/50 | (-23.5) 9/10
Draw 30/1
Italy 12/1 | (+23.5) 9/10

Wales will get the post-Warren Gatland era underway when Italy visit the Principality Stadium on Saturday in the 2020 Six Nations opener.

Gatland was at the helm of the Dragons for a staggering 12 years, having led his adopted nation to a third Grand Slam last season and fourth title overall. Former Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac is the new man in charge and will look to pick up where his Kiwi compatriot left off.

The Welsh still have the luxury of calling on a number of veterans post the World Cup, with Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and the like all remaining involved in international footy. Their experience will be vital again as they look to defend their crown.

The Azzurri, under the tutelage of Franco Smith, will again fight to avoid the wooden spoon this season. Their last win in the competition came in 2015 and claiming even one scalp will be a relief for them this year.

Verdict: Italy (+23.5) 9/10
While Italy will be anything but spectacular with Wales set to claim a comfortable win, I don’t see the hosts clearing the handicap.

Ireland v Scotland
Aviva Stadium

To Win Match
Ireland 1/7 | (-13.5) 9/10
Draw 30/1
Scotland 9/2 | (+13.5)

Ireland will start to rebuild after their disastrous World Cup campaign when they host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Another World Cup, another quarter-final exit for the men from the Emerald Isle. Following that bitter disappointment, and with Joe Schmidt and Rory Best now having moved on, the Irish under Andy Farrell will be set on creating a new culture in the years leading up to France 2023.

Farrell has named an interesting run-on XV, with Peter O’Mahony dropping to the bench for Leinster’s Caelan Doris at No 8 and an exciting back three of Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale set to start.

Devin Toner, who was dropped from the World Cup squad, appears on the bench.

With Greig Laidlaw, Tommy Seymour and John Barclay all gone, Scotland have some rebuilding to do themselves.

Stuart Hogg is the new captain, but the 27-year-old will have to do without the support of Finn Russell after the latter’s leaving of the camp. Certainly, it wouldn’t be too much to suggest that these off-field distractions could have a serious impact on Scotland’s preparations for the tournament, not least their opening game.

Verdict: Ireland 9/10 (-13.5)
Playing at home, and with Scotland in disarray, Ireland will clear the handicap.

Sunday 2 February

France v England
Stade de France

To Win Match
France 31/20 | (+4.5) 9/10
Draw 20/1
England 11/20 | (-4.5) 9/10

The pick of the weekend’s action sees France host England at the Stade de France on Sunday.

The first “Le Crunch” battle after the World Cup will be a decidedly tough one to call.

New France coach Fabian GalthiƩ has named a Six Nations squad with an average age of just 24. It certainly seems likely that the next few years could see a revival of the national team, especially with their U20s having performed so marvellously of late.

For England, with the Saracens salary cap scandal still hanging over the players’ heads, they may be slightly distracted this weekend. Eddie Jones will need to handle the situation very carefully if he is to get the most out of his star players.

The loss of Billy Vunipola is a big one for the men in white, but they should have enough physicality in other departments to offset it somewhat. There will be no repeat of last year’s 44-8 win at Twickenham, though, with Sunday’s Test set to be decided by the slightest of margins.

Verdict: France 9/10 (+4.5)
Back France them to remain within the handicap - just.

Written by Shaun Goosen for Hollywoodbets.

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