The Six Nations is the pinnacle of the northern hemisphere international rugby scene. England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France and Italy take part, pitting the strongest European nations against each other over a gruelling 8 week schedule.
During the tournament the teams play each other just once, playing either three at home and two away or two at home and three away, a pattern which alternates each year. At the time of writing the current sponsors are Guinness, but the tournament has seen several different ones over the years including Natwest, RBS and Lloyds TSB.
Six Nations Betting Tips For 2020
The Six Nations is styled as ‘rugby’s greatest championship’. Despite being played every year there is nothing quite like the Six Nations and anticipation of the 2020 tournament has been building for some time. There is a different feel to things this time around though as the Six Nations closely follows the 2019 World Cup.
Whereas England are hoping to build on their run to the final in Japan, the other teams are either embarking on a new chapter with fresh coaching impetus or looking to put World Cup disappointment behind them. This is shaping up to be an unpredictable tournament which could very easily go the way of any one of four teams but how is every squad shaping up ahead of the start of the 2020 Six Nations Championship?
England head into the 2020 Six Nations as the clear favourite with the bookies. The best price you’ll get about the World Cup finalists is the 10/11 that Coral are quoting which is not short enough to put off a lot of punters.
England’s billing as favourites stems largely from their performances in Japan. Eddie Jones said from the moment that he became England head coach that every piece of work they did on the training ground and every match they played was in preparation for the World Cup and that approach so nearly paid off in the most spectacular fashion. They were simply outstanding against New Zealand in the semis but that might make losing in the final even harder to take.
Although they’ve had time to lick their wounds following their loss to South Africa, England don’t have any time to get up to speed in the Six Nations. They face arguably their toughest match of all straight away, a trip to Saint-Denis to take on a rapidly improving France team but their other two away games – against Scotland and Italy – are very winnable.
Jones and his players will know that home advantage in itself is not enough to beat Ireland and Wales and it is highly likely that England will slip up at some stage. They may be the worthy favourites to win the Six Nations but the unpredictable nature of this year’s tournament suggests winning every match is likely to be beyond England. We can’t advise against a bet on them to lift the overall trophy but the better wager for us is to back no team to win the Grand Slam instead, at 11/10 with Betfred.
Ireland were the pick of many fans as well priced outsiders ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The tournament started well enough with a big win over Scotland but Ireland went on to lose to Japan which, despite two further wins in the pool stage, set up a match against New Zealand in the quarter finals.
Ireland weren’t just well beaten by the All Blacks in Chofu, they were pretty much annihilated. The 46-14 defeat could have been even worse and showed how much work is required before Ireland can seriously be considered one of the best teams in the world, despite what the official rankings may say.
That work will no longer be taken up by Joe Schmidt as he was replaced as Ireland head coach by the nation’s former defensive coach, Andy Farrell, at the end of the World Cup. Farrell is in the tough position of having to step up into the top job and wanting to make his mark on Ireland but doing so without changing too much, too quickly.
It remains to be seen whether that approach will coax better things out of Ireland or prove to be a fudge that costs them their chance of contending for the Six Nations. Their odds of 4/1 with Ladbrokes to win the tournament show that Ireland have real potential but that nobody is quite sure what to make of them.
Warren Gatland will go down in history as one of Wales’ greatest head coaches. Gatland exited the stage and returned to New Zealand after the World Cup but there is a certain amount of continuity in that his replacement, Wayne Pivac, is a fellow Kiwi who enjoys getting the best out of players on an individual basis.
Pivac’s man-management will be key to any success that Wales have over the next few years. He had to work very hard to get to this stage, giving up a career as a policeman to enter the world of rugby coaching. Pivac had a lot of success as head coach of Scarlets and hopes are high around the Wales setup that he will take the team forward and build on the great work of his countryman.
As ever when a new head coach is installed, it’s going to take Pivac some time to really learn about his players. With all due respect to Italy, Pivac will be delighted that his first match is against the Azzurri in Cardiff before Wales travel to Dublin to take on Ireland. If Wales can build up a head of steam and play with the sort of attacking verve as Scarlets did under Pivac, they could be serious Six Nations contenders at nice enough odds of 11/2 with bet365.
In as much as it is possible to have dark horses in a six-team tournament, France could well fill that role over the coming weeks. When you look at their results in the World Cup in isolation you might think there isn’t too much for French rugby fans to get excited about but peer a little deeper and there are many reasons to be enthused.
Ultimately, silly individual mistakes cost France in Japan. Discipline is a huge part of rugby union at the top level so the French coaching team don’t get off scot-free but a bit more clarity of thought and restraint could have seen France progress further in the World Cup.
With everybody in the France squad keen to impress new head coach, Fabien Galthie, we should see less ill-discipline from them in the 2020 Six Nations. In that case, the hugely talented, hungry, young players in the squad will have a platform from which to cause their opponents serious problems. If you don’t fancy backing them to win the tournament outright, France are well worth a play in the betting without England market at odds of 3/1 with Coral.
Scotland have never won the Six Nations. Their most recent success in the tournament came back in 1999 before Italy were added to the mix and there is no realistic chance of them ending their wait for a title this year.
After failing to exceed pre-tournament expectations in the World Cup, Scotland are a general price of 25/1 to win the Six Nations. They should probably be a lot bigger and they certainly aren’t tempting us at 25s. Gregor Townsend believes that his team have what it takes to pull off a couple of shocks but Scotland’s preparations for the tournament have hardly gone to plan.
Townsend made the call to exclude Finn Russell from the squad to face Ireland for a ‘breach of team protocol’ reportedly during a drinking session. Russell’s participation in the remainder of the Six Nations is in doubt which is a big blow as the fly-half is one of Scotland’s best players. Russell’s absence and the potential for morale problems amongst the team suggests this could be a very tough tournament for Scotland and they are worth opposing in individual games.
Italy are the perennial favourites for the wooden spoon in the Six Nations. That has not changed ahead of the 2020 edition but the Azzurri believe that they have enough about them to cause problems for each of their opponents.
There is no doubt that Italy have made big steps forward since their inclusion in the Six Nations. Equally, however, it seems clear that those advances have stalled of late and there is no doubt that they require huge improvement to have any chance of competing with those teams in with a chance of winning the title.
Perhaps Italy’s biggest strength is their unity and work rate. Rarely do they make it easy for their opponents but the situation with interim head coach, Franco Smith, muddies the waters a little. Is he preparing the team just for individual matches or will he be allowed to work to a long term plan? Scotland’s problems give Italy hope that they could avoid the wooden spoon but anything more than that would be a real surprise. If you think Italy can impress, back the Scots to finish bottom of the table at tasty odds of 10/1 with bet365 and others.
Format & Fixtures
With each Six Nations, you will see that each team plays against each other just once. This creates a total of 15 games per tournament and the winner is the one with the most points at the end of the Six Nations.
Each country will nominate one stadium to host all their games throughout each Six Nations. This can change year on year, but must remain constant throughout each campaign. As teams only play 5 teams (once against each nation) it means that an uneven number of home and away fixture will be played. So, some teams will play at home twice and away three times whilst others will get 3 home games and 2 away games.
To even things out, the games are rotated home and away for each year of tournament. For example, if Scotland paly Ireland at home one year, the next they will play them away, and so on. So, with some years teams will get a home advantage and then other years they will not.
In 2017 the points structure was revamped in order to encourage more expansive, attacking rugby. The original layout was 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss. Now you will get 4 points for a win, plus a bonus point if you manage to score 4 or more tries. Also, losing sides are able to grab bonus points as well, again if they score 4 or more tries and another point if they are within 7 points of the winning team. Two points are awarded for a draw.
Six Nations 2020 Fixtures by Country
|England||France||2nd February (Sunday)||15:00||Stade de France, Paris|
|Scotland||8th February (Saturday)||16:45||Murrayfield, Edinburgh|
|Ireland||23rd Feb (Sunday)||15:00||Twickenham, London|
|Wales||7th March (Saturday)||16:45||Twickenham, London|
|Italy||14th March (Saturday)||16:45||Stadio Olimpico, Rome|
|France||England||2nd February (Sunday)||15:00||Stade de France, Paris|
|Italy||9th February (Sunday)||15:00||Stade de France, Paris|
|Wales||22nd February (Saturday)||16:45||Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
|Scotland||8th March (Sunday)||15:00||Murrayfield, Edinburgh|
|Ireland||14th March (Saturday)||20:00||Stade de France, Paris|
|Ireland||Scotland||1st February (Saturday)||16:45||Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|Wales||8th February (Saturday)||14:15||Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|England||23rd February (Sunday)||15:00||Twickenham, London|
|Italy||7th March (Saturday)||14:15||Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|France||14th March (Saturday)||20:00||Stade de France, Paris|
|Italy||Wales||1st February (Saturday)||14:15||Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
|France||9th February (Sunday)||15:00||Stade de France, Paris|
|Scotland||22nd February (Saturday)||14:15||Stadio Olimpico, Rome|
|Ireland||7th March (Saturday)||14:15||Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|England||14th March (Saturday)||16:45||Stadio Olimpico, Rome|
|Scotland||Ireland||1st February (Saturday)||16:45||Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|England||8th February (Saturday)||16:45||Murrayfield, Edinburgh|
|Italy||22nd February (Saturday)||14:15||Stadio Olimpico, Rome|
|France||8th March (Sunday)||15:00||Murrayfield, Edinburgh|
|Wales||14th March (Saturday)||14:15||Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
|Wales||Italy||1st February (Saturday)||14:15||Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
|Ireland||8th February (Saturday)||14:15||Aviva Stadium, Dublin|
|France||22nd February (Saturday)||16:45||Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
|England||7th March (Saturday)||16:45||Twickenham, London|
|Scotland||14th March (Saturday)||14:15||Principality Stadium, Cardiff|
Each nation has a host stadium where all of their home matches is played. Due to the increasing popularity of the sport and the tournament you can expect these games are sold out although the capacity in each stadium is huge.
The largest venue for a single match at the six Nations is that of Twickenham, home of England, The stadium holds an impressive 82,000, closely followed by the Stade de France, with 81,338. The smallest of the six is the newest addition to the fold in Ireland, the Aviva Stadium, with a capacity of just over 51,000. Whilst Italy are the newest addition to the Six Nations, the popularity has meant they needed to move out of their original home of the Stadio Flaminio to allow for more fans, switching to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Six Nations Stadiums & Capacitys
|France||Stade de France||Saint-Denis, Paris||81,338|
|Wales||Principality Stadium||Central Cardiff||74,500|
|Italy||Stadio Olimpico||Foro Italico, Rome||72,698|
|Ireland||Aviva Stadium||Ballsbridge, Dublin||51,700|
Trophies & Accolades
Throughout the six Nations there are actually quite a few side trophies that can be won by teams. Whilst the one that people want is the Championship Trophy for the overall winner, some of them are played for and won with great pride and often been around for a long time now.
The next main feat after the title is that of the Grand Slam. This is where the team that wins has done so beating every other team. The Grand Slam is actually pretty rare, but England are the most successful team, earning the accolade on 13 separate times throughout all formats of the championships. Wales currently sit second with 12 wins to their name.
The Triple Crown is another hotly contested trophy that is played out between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The winners of the trophy will be those who have beaten all the other teams and it will only be awarded if this happens. Often this trophy is never presented, but again, England are the most successful with 25 Triple Crown wins to their name.
The Calcutta Cup has been contested since 1879 and takes place between two of the oldest rivals in sport; England and Scotland. Over the 126 times that the cup has been played for it has again been dominated by England, with 70 wins to the Scots 40, with 16 draws. In 2018 Scotland won their first Calcutta Cup in 10 years which was their worst run with the cup ever.
The Millennium Trophy is a fairly new addition to the fold, first being played in 1988 to celebrate Dublin’s millennial year. The Viking helmet trophy is probably the most competitive of all the trophies in the Six Nations, with 32 matches taking place in total, England winning 19 and Ireland winning 13.
The Centenary Quaich takes place between Ireland and Scotland and has been running since 1989. There isn’t an awful lot of information on why the trophy was brought in, but Quaich means Celtic Drinking Vessel, and it’s this that is presented to the winning team. After 31 appearances between the two teams vying for this cup, the scores are currently edged by Ireland on 16 wins with Scotland two back on 14, with one game ending in a draw.
Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy
The latest trophy to be added to the Six Nations is that of the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy. It was first brought in in 2007 and is the only trophy, other than that of the championship of course, that France and Italy play for. Over the 13 times that this trophy has been played for, France have won on 11 occasions with Italy winning just twice.
Throughout the course of the Six Nations, the Five Nations and the Home Nations, as they were once called, England and Wales have been the two standout nations when it comes to success. England have won the Championship on 28 occasions, with Wales just one back with 27.
Since the introduction of the Six Nations though, things have been much closer, and both Wales and France actually sit second to England’s 6 six wins with 5 each, with Ireland fourth with 4 wins.
Grand Slams follow a similar theme, but it’s not England at the top of the pile for the Six Nations. With 4 Grand Slam titles Wales are at the top, followed by France with 3 and England and Ireland next with 2 each. But, Overall, since the start of all the competitions, it is England who are out on top with 13 Grand Slams to their name ahead of Wales with 12.
At the flip side of the tournament there is a special award for the team that finishes bottom of the group at the end of the tournament; the Wooden Spoon. No trophy is actually awarded for this and thankfully so as we doubt it would go down too well. The unfortunate ‘winners’ of this most often over the years is that of Ireland, who have 36 wooden spoons to their name across all formats. But, in the Six Nations era it’s Italy who have by far and away the most wooden spoons, with 14 to their name from just 20 Six Nations’.
Six Nations Wins by Country
|Country||Titles||Years Won (Grand Slams in Bold)|
|England||6||2017, 2016, 2011, 2003, 2002, 2001|
|Wales||5||2019, 2013, 2012, 2008, 2005|
|France||5||2010, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2002|
|Ireland||4||2018, 2015, 2014, 2009|
The 2019 tournament was all about Wales who dominated proceedings winning all five of their matches. Their first match of the championships was away to France in Paris. After finding themselves 16-0 down at half time, Warren Gatland’s men produced a stunning comeback to win 24-19 thanks to a try from Tomos Williams and two from George North. They followed this with an away win in Italy before beating England in Cardiff. A further away win came against Scotland before completing the Grand Slam against Ireland at the Principality Stadium.
England finished in second place with three wins and a draw. That draw came in the Calcutta Cup match a Twickenham where the hosts threw away a 31-0 half time lead, actually trailing 38-31 at one stage to the Scots, before a last gasp try from Ross Ford with the clock over 80 minutes. England did have both the top points scorer with Owen Farrell on 59 points and the top try scorer in Jonny May with 6.
Pre-tournament favourites Ireland finished a disappointing third with 3 wins and 2 losses ahead of France with 2 wins and Scotland with just 1 victory. Italy were again the bottom side, failing to pick up a single point.
2019 Six Nations Final Table
Ireland were the standout nation in 2018 winning their fourth six nations title in style by completing their second Grand Slam producing their third title in the last five years. Home victories at the Aviva Stadium against France, Wales and Scotland were backed up by wins in Italy and against England at Twickenham on the final day. Top tryscorer and player of the tournament was Ireland left wing Jacob Stockdale. The Ulsterman touched down seven tries, which is a Six Nations record.
Wales and Scotland had strong tournaments finishing second and third respectively, both with three victories. Scotland secured their first Calcutta Cup victory over England in 10 years with a 25-13 victory at Murrayfield.
France’s erratic recent performances continued though they did beat Italy and England and only narrowly lost to eventual winner Ireland in their opening match. They also boasted the tournament top points scorer with 50 in scrum half Maxime Machenaud.
Finishing fifth, England had their worst ever Six Nations Championship. Their two victories came away in Italy and with a low scoring win against Wales at Twickenham. Some consolation came from the right wing with Jonny May getting four tries, the joint second highest in the tournament.
Italy again finished with the wooden spoon but they did net a bonus point loss against Scotland and had strong performances from Matteo Minozzi scoring four tries and Tommaso ‘Tommy’ Allen scoring three.
2018 Six Nations Final Table
The 2017 Six Nations was the first tournament where they had brought in the new scoring method, which included points for more tries and also margins of victories. It’s also worth noting that for this they guaranteed the team winning all 5 matches would win the Championship, with an additional 3 points being added if this occurred.
It was England who were able to wrap up a second successive championship victory in the tournament and with it were able to continue their rise up the world rankings. But, they had to work hard and after 4 consecutive wins, they faced a toughened Irish team on the last game of the Six Nations to win the Grand Slam. Ultimately, they came up just short, losing that match 13-9, but were still able to take the championship win, regardless of the result. Interesting, England have done this 5 times in the Six Nations era and also the third time that it’s been Ireland who have denied them of the Grand Slam victory and Triple Crown.
The team of the tournament would have to go to Scotland though, who managed to pick 3 good wins against Ireland, Wales and Italy along the way. They’ve often been languishing in the bottom two within the tournament for a number of years now, so to finish equal points in second place with Ireland and France (although officially finishing 4th on points difference), it has to be viewed as progress.
2017 Six Nations Final Table
History of the Home Nations, 5 Nations & 6 Nations
The start of the competition that lead to the Six Nations was in 1883, but back then it was simply called the Home Nations. This was contested between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
It was in 1910 when the structure of the tournament changed seeing the addition of France into the mix, remaining in competition until 1931. Political turmoil in the lead up to World War II started to take its toll and in turn, the ability to travel became almost impossible. From 1932 to 1939, the tournament switched back to the Home Nations, with just 4 teams taking part.
In 1947, following the conclusion of the Second World War, France were added back into the mix and again it was known as the Five Nations. France’s first individual success in the tournament finally came in 1959, but they had tied for first on two other occasions, in 1954 and 1955. This would cement their place in the tournament and put to bed any doubters that claimed they had no place within the original Home Nations tournament.
This structure would run successfully up until 2000, where it was decided that expansion was needed to include an ever-improving Italian team. As there was little international rugby talking part for teams outside of the Five Nations, Italy’s application was accepted and so the tournament became the Six Nations.
Since then there have been calls to expand the tournament even further, with the likes of Romania and Georgia both being touted for inclusion due to relative success in previous World Cup campaigns. But, it’s strongly argued that both teams would fail to match even the class of Italy within the completion and would mean an increase in both travel and the timeframe of the already jam-packed Six Nations.
England (Joined 1883)
England are undoubtedly the most successful country in the Six Nations. They’ve won it more times than any of the others and have also won more Five Nations than any of the others as well. They’ve been the stronger team for the longest period within the tournaments history and we think fair to say that they are the team that everyone looks to bear, even today.
Their modern-day dominance was probably only overshadowed by the success they had in the early nineties, more specially 1992. This season they were able to win back to back Grand Slams, something that had never been done before. They also manged to rack up a record points amount and conceded just 4 tries throughout the whole tournament.
The 2003 win was probably more important for them though and not just because they managed to win another Grand Slam. The Six Nations victory saw them completely dominate their opponents in just about every match, but it lead to be the springboard to lead Clive Woodward’s team to victory in the 2003 World Cup and give England their 1 and only World Cup win.
Wales (Joined 1883)
Wales have always been a bit of a yo-yo team in rugby, unlike the more consistent English. But, there have been times here they have been able to dominate unlike any other team, none more so than throughout the 1970’s. In this era, they had 8 wins or ties for 1st places from just 10 Five Nations events, a run of form that has rarely been matched before or since. They had the likes of Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies, Steve Fenwick and Barry John, to name just a few.
They weren’t able to enjoy similar sort of success until the mid 2000’s and even then, it wasn’t rally on the same scale. They were able to win the Grand Slam in 2005, which really got people excited about Welsh rugby again, following this feat with Grand Slam victories in 2008, 2012 and 2019, plus winning the 2013 Six Nations Trophy as well.
Scotland (Joined 1883)
Scotland have struggled since the start of the Six nations and unfortunately are better known for their collection of 4 wooden spoons than any major trophies to speak of. The Six Nations as a whole haven’t been too kind to the Scots, but positive results in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 tournaments look to see Scottish rugby back on the rise.
Whilst the glory days of Scottish rugby are to be looked back or forward on, they have had spells where they have shown what they are made of, none more so than in 1990. The 1990 Five Nations would prove to be a high point where they managed to overcome strong French dominance to win the Grand Slam, after falling just short 4 years previous.
Ireland (Joined 1883)
The Irish have been able to enjoy a good amount of success in more recent years within the Six Nations. They’ve had Grand Slam wins in 2009 and 2018 alongside back to back titles in 2014 and 2015, producing some amazing talents in that time. None more so than the legend that is Brian O’Driscoll. He’s won player of the tournament on 3 separate occasions, highlighting his importance to the team.
The recent move to the Aviva Stadium has seen another improvement in Irish rugby. The stadium has seen the move away from the previous Landsdown Road and allowed them to play at the legendary Croke Park whilst the stadium was being built.
France (Joined 1910)
It took a long time for France to really find their feet within the tournament. In fact, they hold the record for the longest stretch without a Championship win, spanning 43 years from 1910 to 1953.
But, whilst the early days were certainly tough, they are more than established these days and are regarded as one of the best in the world. Their best spell came in the Five Nations, throughout the 1980’s. From 1981 to 1989 they were either winners or tied 1st for the tournament 6 times, with 2 Grand Slam wins as well.
Italy (Joined 2000)
Italy have been included since the start of the Six Nations, obviously, in 2000. The country were a controversial inclusion and whilst they have struggled on paper, it’s been undoubtable that they have improved over the years, especially given their recent World Cup runs as well.
With just 12 victories from 100 games, it’s often been a long slog has the Six Nations, but with so few wins, it’s made the games they have won that little bit sweeter. They’ve also manged to produce some truly world class players, such as Diego Dominguez, Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni, to name just a few.