They may have just endured the misery of narrowly missing out on the Six Nations title for the third season in a row under Stuart Lancaster, but England won’t have to wait long to get their hands on the greatest prize in northern hemisphere rugby.
Ladbrokes have the Red Rose priced up as 2/1 favourites to lift the Six Nations title in 2015 and anyone who’s been watching Lancaster’s side in this year’s breathtaking renewal will surely agree that they are deserving of such an honour.
It could all have been so different had they held on to a 24-19 lead with four minutes to go in their opening fixture against France, and England’s understated Cumbrian-born coach must wonder how his side managed to lose to a Les Bleus outfit that spent much of the rest of the tournament in disgrace.
However, Lancaster will have been thrilled by the performances of newcomers Luther Burrell, Jack Nowell and Jonny May in the back division, while reserve forwards David Wilson, Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Joe Marler and Ben Morgan come out of the competition as huge plusses.
With the likes of Alex Corbisiero, Manu Tuilagi, Geoff Parling and brilliant number eight Billy Vunipola (among others) set to return next term after injury-disrupted campaigns, and taking into account the added experience starters such as Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Billy Twelvetrees and Danny Care will take into next year, England suddenly look very strong.
In a tournament where three of the world’s best full-backs proved crucial to their sides’ successes, Mike Brown shone like a glint of gold and with the Harlequins six-footer at 15, England have a line breaker of the highest quality.
New champions Ireland will attract plenty of support at 5/2 after they showed what a cohesive unit they’ve become under Joe Schmidt, but the boys in green haven’t retained the title since 1949 and with retiring talisman Brian O’Driscoll leaving a massive gap at centre, it’s hard to see them doing so in 2015.
Wales split the pair at 9/4 and will have home advantage over both, while a trip to 5/1 title shots France will hold little fear for Warren Gatland’s men, but the Red Dragons were poor seconds against England and Ireland and may need another year in hiatus to sort out their misfiring pack.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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