- France and Wales are the only undefeated sides after matchday two at the 2021 Six Nations Championship
- After beating England in their first match, Scotland stumbled at home against Wales
- Do Les Bleus deserve to be heavy favorites considering that they still have to travel to Twickenham?
According to oddsmakers, the 2021 Six Nations Championship is France’s to lose. Les Bleus are sitting at average odds of -172 and are as short as -180 at FanDuel through two of five matches at the annual six-team, round-robin rugby union tournament.
2021 Six Nations Championship Odds
Odds as of Feb. 16th at FanDuel.
All six teams have three matches remaining. The final three matches will be played on Saturday, March 20th, barring coronavirus interruptions.
|Team||Points||Record (W-D-L)||Point DIfferential||Remaining Games|
|France||9||2-0-0||+42||vs SCO, @ENG, vs WAL|
|Wales||9||2-0-0||+6||vs ENG, @ITA, @FRA|
|England||6||1-0-1||+18||@WAL, vs FRA, @IRE|
|Scotland||5||1-0-1||+4||@FRA, vs IRE, vs ITA|
|Ireland||2||0-0-2||-7||@ITA, @SCO, vsENG|
|Italy||0||0-0-2||-63||vs IRE, vs WAL, @SCO|
Odds as of Feb. 15th.
The scoring system is relatively complicated. Teams get four points for a win, two points for a draw, one point for scoring four-plus tries in a match, and one point for losing a match by fewer than eight points. (Winning teams cannot get the close-loss bonus point, so the maximum number of points from a single match is five.)
If a team wins all five of its matches, it receives an additional three bonus points, ensuring that a team that goes 5-0-0 will be crowned champion.
If two teams are tied on points, point differential is the first tiebreaker. Tries scored is the second tiebreaker. There is no third tiebreaker.
Exigencies Favor France
In a six-team, five-match tournament, three teams will play three home games while the other three only play two. This year, France, England, and Scotland both play three. Wales, Ireland, and Italy only play two.
While Scotland looked impressive in their tournament-opening win at England, France are -430 favorites to beat the Scots in Paris on matchday three.
Les Bleus will be underdogs at England in their following match, but will then have home-field advantage against Wales – the only other unbeaten team – on the final day of the tournament. France have won their last two against Wales, including a 27-23 away victory at the 2020 Six Nations last February.
In addition to hosting their closest competitor (points-wise), France also have an early edge in point differential, which is the first tiebreaker. At +42, they have a 36-point lead on Wales. They also lead Wales in tries (9-6), which is the second tiebreaker.
Wales still has the luxury of playing Italy, by far the worst team among the sextet, but they will be hard-pressed to make up the 36-point difference on the road in Rome. Wales’ average margin of victory in their last five against the Italians is 24.6 points, and that includes a 42-0 rout in Cardiff.
Is England Still in Play?
If the English can claim victory in their final three matches, they have a decent chance of retaining the trophy. They already earned the loser’s point in their 11-6 defeat at the hands of Scotland, and they will necessarily hand France and Wales – the two teams ahead of them – a setback if they go 3-0-0 from here on out.
They remain +350 longshots because, as with Wales, they have a large point-differential deficit to France (+42 vs +18). They would need to make up 24 points in the final three matches to own the first tiebreaker against the French. With their match against the Italians (a 41-18 victory) already in the books and two of their final three matches on the road, claiming victory on point differential is unlikely.
In reality, they likely need to beat France by eight points or more when the two powers clash at Twickenham on March 13th, ensuring the French do not get the loser’s bonus point.
England and France have played six times in the last five years. England is 4-2 with two wins coming by at least eight points. However, the teams split their last two matches – both in 2020 – with England winning by just three points in London last November in the Autumn Nations Cup final.
France’s recent performances have been almost exclusively excellent. They have moved up to #4 in the world – just one spot behind England – as a result.
France has not won the Six Nations Championship since 2010. The teams will have next weekend off before matchday three on February 27th and 28th.