The excitement is building ahead of one of the most iconic sporting events of the year as the powerhouses of northern hemisphere rugby gear up to battle it out for the 2018 Six Nations.
In what could well be one of the most open tournaments in a number of years, Alex Jack examines the chances of three sides that have genuine ambitions of lifting the coveted trophy this year.
Who are the favourites?
England to Win Outright @ 1/1 – BET NOW
Like most championships, England have to be considered the favourites for the title in the Six Nations betting but their strength in depth will be tested in 2018 more than previous campaigns as they seek a third successive crown.
The build-up to the tournament for most of the nations has been plagued by injury and England head coach Eddie Jones has called up eight uncapped players to his squad ahead of their opener against Italy.
With the likes of Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Mike Brown, it is hard to see England going into the final round of fixtures without a chance of winning the title, in what could be a championship decider against Ireland at Twickenham.
Ireland to Win Outright @ 2/1 – BET NOW
Ireland are also expected to challenge for the title this year, with Joe Schmidt’s side having plenty of experience in their ranks. They are second favourites in the Six Nations odds have become the first team to beat England under Jones last year.
The Six Nations is all about momentum and much will depend on whether they will be able to get a victory in their opening match; a tough trip to Paris to face the unpredictable French.
A powerful pack with the likes of Tadhg Furlong and Sean O’Brien in their ranks is likely to give British & Irish Lions fly-half Jonathan Sexton the platform to get their backs causing defences problems.
With Leinster and Munster both impressing on their way to the quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup, Ireland’s top players have been performing on the big stage domestically this season.
A win in Paris first up and the Irish juggernaut could be very difficult to stop this year.
Scotland to Win Outright @ 14/1 – BET NOW
For the last few year Scotland have been regarded as dark horses for the title in the Six Nations tips but could 2018 be the year that fans north of the border finally end their wait for the title?
The Five Nations success of 1999 seems a very long time ago but there is plenty of optimism in Scotland as new head coach Gregor Townsend builds on the strong foundations put in place by his predecessor Vern Cotter.
Injuries have blighted the Scottish front-row before their opener against Wales and they will have to play smart to make sure that does not hamper them.
However Scotland have arguably one of the most exciting backlines in the tournament with the likes of Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour capable of striking from anywhere on the field.
Once again momentum is key.
If Scotland can manage to pull off a rare victory in Cardiff in their opening game, then this might just be the year when the good times come back to the terraces at Murrayfield.
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