England can successfully oppose France in Six Nations

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Wales will begin their defence of the Six Nations Championship against Ireland but, despite being 4/6 favourites to get the tournament underway with a win, they’re currently fourth in the betting (which is effectively last ahead of no-hopers Scotland and Italy) to become the first team to retain the crown since France achieved the feat in 2007.

A price of 9/2 suggests the Welsh don’t have much chance of coming top of the northern-hemisphere pile for the second straight year, with the French installed as 15/8 favourites.

England are slightly longer 2/1 shots and, for those who enjoy opposing the favourites, can be encouraged by the country’s efforts in the recently concluded autumn internationals where they ran South Africa to within a hare’s breath of victory before knocking over the All-Blacks.

They begin their campaign against Scotland where only an upset of the magnitude of England-New Zealand proportions can prevent them winning and punters can be paid out at 10/11 to see them prevail against the old enemy with a negative 15-point handicap applied to their final score.

However, if you fancy England to be celebrating come the Six Nations conclusion, history suggests you’d be better off avoiding investing your hard-earned in them to supplement the championship win with either of the Grand Slam or Triple Crown.

Stuart Lancaster’s men have won the tournament three times since the turn of the millennium but have failed to claim either of the additional accolades on each occasion; the only winning nation to have managed this. An England Triple Crown is available at 10/3, while the Grand Slam pays out at 5’s, though both should be longer odds judging from the stats.

The race for the Wooden Spoon looks to have been won by nine-time recipients Italy. Bearing in mind they’ve only played in 12 tournaments, the fact that they’ve managed to fill their cutlery draw with this unwanted stirring utensil is no mean feat.

They’re 4/11 to add another one to the impressive pile this time around but Scotland, who gave the Azzurri a break last term, can be backed at 3/1 to finish bottom for the second successive year and this could be worth a punt. However, the fact that they play the Italians at Murrayfield this year could see them dodge a repeat of their disastrous 2012 effort.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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