Six Nations Odds: A preview of the 2023 Championship with a best bet for each side
Outside of the Rugby World Cup, the Six Nations is the most famous championship in rugby union.
There can be squabbles over if it is the highest quality tournament (and fans in the Southern Hemisphere would certainly argue against that) but one thing not worth squabbling over is how intriguing this year’s Six Nations promises to be.
Here Billy Grimshaw gives us a rundown of the teams involved and provides his best bets...
Six Nations Outright Odds
Ireland - 13/10 Favourites
Under rugby league legend turned top rugby Union coach Andy Farrell, Ireland have been a side reborn.
The highlight of his tenure so far was the stunning series win in New Zealand against the mighty All Blacks for the first time in the nation’s history.
In truth, that achievement will probably live longer in the memory for fans of the 15 aside code even if his team were to claim the 2023 Six Nations, but make no mistake Farrell is a born winner and will have his side bang up for this tournament.
There has been some friendly banter between father and son Owen (playing for England) about the allegiances of the Farrell kids, but all bonds will be forgotten when the sides cross the white line.
Watch out for the Irish high ruck count in the games, they are averaging over 100 recently! Farrell has made them the best rucking side in world rugby and this is a huge cornerstone of their success, along with some bruising defence which has become the trademark of the side. They are shading favouritism from defending champions France, and in our opinion, rightfully so.
Key players: Jonny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier
Form guide: W-W-W-W-W-W
One to watch: Jack Crowley
France - 2/1 Second Favourites
Reigning Grand Slam champions France have got a lengthy injury list to contend with if they are to defend their Six Nations crown, but the squad is still packed with proven quality and a sprinkling of stardust from some younger players as yet untested in the international arena but with plenty of pedigree in the domestic competition.
The French league is by far the strongest in the Northern hemisphere and with this team having a winning culture already ingrained into them they won’t be giving up the title to Ireland or anyone else without a fight.
The French have been synonymous with chaotic and exciting rugby for generations and after a few years in the wilderness under the guidance of Fabien Galthie Les Bleus are back to their brilliant best.
Their defence has come on leaps and bounds under renowned specialist coach Shaun Edwards and their capacity to force turnover balls is unmatched in World Rugby. With a home World Cup to come later this year, what better way for France to prepare than a strong Six Nations campaign?
Their strongest 15 with all the injuries is a hard one to guess at but they possess strike throughout the back division and if given the nod expect to see Ethan Dumortie shine on the international arena just like he has been doing as top try-scorer in the Top 14 on home soil.
Key players: Antoine Dupont, Emilien Gailleton, Uini Atonio
Form guide: W-W-W-W-W-W
One to watch: Ethan Dumortier
Prediction: Runners up
Best Bet: Ethan Dumortie top Six Nations try-scorer @ 20/1 - Paddy Power/ Betfair/ William Hill
England - 9/2
It’s a new look England side that will be stepping out at Twickenham on Saturday in the Six Nations opener with Scotland, with a whole new coaching team and backroom staff.
Steve Borthwick has jumped ship from Leicester, and brought Kevin Sinfield with him, to replace Eddie Jones (recently appointed Wallabies coach which could be tantalising in the World Cup later this year).
Borthwick looks set to ring the changes both in playing style and personnel in comparison to Jones’s ideas and it is certainly one of the most interesting subplots of this series to see how the players respond.
Ollie Hassell-Collins looks set to be one of the main beneficiaries of the coaching team and looks primed to make the left wing slot his own throughout the Six Nations. The winger has been in flying form for London Irish and deserves his call-up, and with England’s propensity to focus on their left channel he looks a solid bet to be England’s top try-scorer. As short as 3/1 with other firms, Spreadex are a stand-out 5/1 on this selection landing.
Key players: Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Mako Vunipola
Form guide: L-D-W-L-L
One to watch: Ben Earl
Prediction: Third place
Best Bet: Ollie Hassell-Collins top England try-scorer @ 5/1 - Spreadex
Wales - 14/1
They say never go back, but the WRU are ignoring that advice and have reappointed legendary head coach Warren Gatland to his former role. A move that has gone down well with fans, players and pundits alike, expect to see the Welsh much improved in this Championship under the expert tutelage of Gatland and they could be dark horses to spring a surprise or two as the series progresses.
George North may not be the force of old but is still a problem for any opposition team and although the Welsh are aging, with Gatland back at the helm fans will be hopeful of a turnaround of their wretched recent form which included a one point loss to Georgia last time out. It could be a tournament too soon for Gatland’s men, however, and if they have a disappointing campaign expect wholesale changes for the World Cup.
Key players: Ken Owens, Rhys Webb, George North
Form guide: L-L-W-L-L-L
One to watch: Christ Tshiunza
Prediction: Fifth place
Best Bet: Wales number of wins: One @ 2/1 - William Hill/ Spreadex
Scotland - 25/1
Still yet to win the Six Nations since it became the Six Nations in the year 2000, 2023 doesn’t look like the year to back the Scots to get the monkey off their back.
With a lack of a discernible playing style and some injury concerns, the Scots will do well to match their past few finishing positions of fourth but with the mercurial Finn Russell steering the team around the park and sprinkling his magic, we think they are a decent bet to be best of the rest behind the ‘big three’ of Ireland, France and England.
Duhan van der Merwe is a colossus on the wing and will more than likely finish as top try-scorer for the Scots, another bet we couldn’t put you off regarding the Bravehearts at around 6/4, but the pack is lightweight and that is the main concern for fans of the Scottish rugby side.
With wins over Italy and Wales Scotland should finish in fourth and although they seem to have a hoodoo over England in recent times, the fact they are off to Twickenham as the opponents for the first game of the Borthwick era is a daunting prospect.
Key players: Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Jamie Richie
Form guide: W-L-W-L-L-W
One to watch: Sean Maitland
Prediction: Fourth place
Best Bet: Scotland finishing position 4th @ 9/4 - bet365 and William Hill
Italy - 1000/1
It is a fool’s game to be certain in both sporting and betting, but I’ll make an exception here. At 1000/1 to win the Six Nations, Italy are still an awful price for glory.
They will not be winning their first Championship in 2923. After a winless sequence which stretched from 2016-2021, the Italians are undoubtedly improved and are not as big a price as they have been to pick up a win in recent years. However, it would take one of the other competitors (almost certainly Wales or Scotland) throwing in a stinker and probably home advantage for Italy to not finish bottom and winless once more in this year’s Six Nations.
Kieran Crowley is a world class operator as head coach and has done a tremendous job since taking charge of the national side, but he is no miracle worker and can only work with what he has at his disposal. After a miraculous win over Australia last year the Italians know their job as giant killers in this series and one win, wherever it comes, would be considered a successful campaign. We can’t see where it’s coming from though, in truth.
Key players: Ange Capuozzo, Paolo Garbisi, Michele Lamaro
Form guide: L-W-W-W-L-L
One to watch: Lorenzo Cannone
Prediction: Sixth place
Best Bet: Lorenzo Cannone top Italy try-scorer @ 16/1 - William Hill