Are you still in withdrawal from the 2015 Rugby World Cup? Well good news; you aren’t alone!
The next big fixture in the rugby world comes this spring, just as the NFL draws to a close. I’m talking of course about the Six Nations Championship. A tournament that pits five of Europe’s finest rugby programs (and Italy) against one another for continental dominance.
And each country could use the ego-boost of winning this tournament after Europe had such a poor showing at the World Cup, where no European side made it past the quarterfinals: favored (but injured) Ireland were upset by Argentina; Wales and Scotland lost hard fought battles to favored South Africa and Australia, respectively; France got destroyed by the All-Blacks; and host England didn’t even make it out of the group stage.
Despite that poor showing, the Red Rose are currently favorites to win this year’s Six Nations title. Perhaps it’s a vote of confidence to new head coach Eddie Jones, who will try to get the most out of a talented England side (which underachieved, partly, due to being placed in a stacked Group B).
England’s biggest challenge will come from the Irish, who have won the last two Championship Trophies. They could become the first nation to win three-straight tournaments outright (the former Five Nations tournament used to have ties for first).
Wales will also be a strong contender, and they begin the tournament with a visit to Dublin on February 7. The winner of that will have an early inside track to taking the whole thing, and perhaps even securing a Grand Slam (winning every match). The feat has only been achieved 37 times in the past 121 editions of this tournament. The last to do it was Wales in 2012.
It should be a lively couple months of rugby action, and each nation should have something to cheer for. Why even Italy probably won’t go home empty handed. As you’ll see, they’re our number one contender for the Wooden Spoon: the award for last-place in the tournament. The Italians have claimed it ten times since it started being awarded in 2000.
Odds to win the 2016 Six Nations Championship:
- England: 2/1
- Ireland: 11/4
- Wales: 11/4
- France: 9/2
- Scotland: 14/1
- Italy: 250/1
Odds to win the Wooden Spoon:
- Italy: 3/8
- Scotland: 7/2
- France: 14/1
- Wales: 35/1
- Ireland: 50/1
- England: 50/1
Odds any team completes the Grand Slam: 2/1
(Photo Credit: Eoin Gardiner (Originally posted to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/])
Let's have fun and keep it civil.