This will be a rolling post throughout the Six Nations championship, updated every week, to basically collate all available offers for the championship as we’re all looking for a bit of betting value after all. We’re set up here to get notifications from all of the main bookies of what special offers and money back specials they’re doing throughout the tournament. It might be some use to some people, so here goes.
Six nations rugby betting offers round 2
Ladbrokes round 2 six nations offers
Scotland v Italy (Sat, 09/02/2013 14:30): Money back on losing 1st tryscorers if Tim Visser scores the 1st try.
France v Wales (Sat, 09/02/2013 17:00): Money back on losing 1st tryscorers if Alex Cuthbert scores the 1st try
Ireland v England (Sun, 10/02/2013 15:00): Money back on losing 1st tryscorers if Ashton or O’ Driscoll score the 1st try
Paddypower six nations round 2 offers
For France v Wales and Ireland v England, Paddypower are giving money back on any losing tryscorer bets in either game if Cuthbert or O’Driscoll score a try anytime. Not a bad offer considering they’re among the most likely men on the field to score. Paddypower look like they’re going for broke here. Cuthbert will get close whether Wales are in the game or not, and Brian O’Driscoll loves scoring against England – England are talking about trying to stop him but everyone tries to stop him.
You can find this offer at Paddypower here, along with the usual 250 in free bets.
Six nations rugby betting offers round 1
Coral .co.uk have a standard free bet offer matched of up to 50 quid. On top of that, they have even money handicaps for the entire six nations and their main offer this weekend is “Back a first try scorer in any Six Nations match this weekend and if your selected player fails to score the first try but scores the last try of the game, we will refund losing pre-match First Try Scorer singles on that player as a free bet up to £/€100.”. You can access this offer here
Money Back Offer, England v Scotland; Wales v Ireland
Money back on losing 1st tryscorers in England v Scotland if Chris Ashton OR Tim Visser score 1st ; Wales v Ireland if O’ Driscoll OR Alex Cuthbert score 1st.
(Main terms – max refund 25 quid, singles only)
Grand Slam Money Back Offer Stake refunded as a free bet on losing Grand Slam winner bets if France win the Grand Slam
(Main terms – Only for bets on England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland; max refund 25 quid, singles only)
Paddypower .com have their usual 250 quid in free bets offer with us running. For this weekend, their extra offer is;
Forward tryscorer money back special
If the first try in any of the three weekend matches matches is a scored by a forward, they will refund all losing try scorer bets on that match.
Max Refund £/E100 per customer per match.
We’ll keep updating this post as more emails come in. If you’ve spotted anything we have missed, give it a mention in the betting forum here.
England v Scotland – six nations rugby betting preview & tips
4pm GMT, Feb 2nd 2013, BBC television.
Six Nations Rugby Odds. England -14 10/1 in Stanjames, Scotland +15 10/11 in Paddypower
At first glance the result of this game looks a forgone conclusion. A young England side with a very big future ahead of it, walloping the world champions New Zealand convincingly in the Autumn internationals, and statistically very unlucky to lose to South Africa (not forgetting that freak try South Arica scored either). Three English teams have made the Heineken cup quarter finals, there’s plenty of depth in different positions, and there’s a general feeling of optimism around the camp. Scotland have been in an awful place too – losing all three games in the Autumn, and in particular suffering an ignominious defeat at home to Tonga that signaled the end of Andy Robinson’s reign. You got the feeling in that game that the Scotland players had just had enough at that point and wanted a change, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest they knew Robinson would get the heave ho if they lost, and subconciously wanting a change they possibly took their foot off the pedal, not bothered too much about the consequences of winning or losing.
England are 15 point favourites with the bookies here so the main goal for us is to try to figure out if that’s warranted. Firstly, they beat the All Blacks by 17 points and it’s probably safe to assume that had they not beaten the All Blacks by such a wide margin the handicap for this game would have been a fair bit lower. Recent results between England and Scotland bear this out;
England 9 v Scotland 15 March 2008 (Murrayfield)
England 26 v Scotland 12 March 2009 (Twickenham)
England 15 v Scotland 15 March 2019 (Murrayfield)
England 22 v Scotland 16 March 2011 (Twickenham)
England 16 v Scotland 12, World Cup, Auckland
England 13 v Scotland 6, March 2012 (Murrayfield)
Indeed you have to go back to 2007 to find a game where England beat a handicap of 15 points against Scotland, winning 42-20 in Twickenham.
So looking at recent England/Scotland results, this handicap does really boil down to that 38-21 result v New Zealand. There’s no doubting it was impressive, but like it or not even the most one-eyed England supporter will admit that the All Blacks might not have been at the races after the bout of food poisoning in the lead-up. Add in the disappointing England tour of South Africa last summer and then the losses to Australia and South Africa, and it’s looking more and more that justifying this handicap is boiling down to that New Zealand win.
England v Scotland teams- six nations rugby betting
(full sides at bottom of post)
Scotland name a side that has twice as many international caps as England. They also have one thing they’ve lacked for a fair few years – finishers with ability. Visser and Maitland start on either wing here and they know where the try line is. Visser scored two tries against New Zealand (sans food poisoning!), and was top try scorer in the Rabo Pro12 last year (and will challenge for it again this year). Injury-prone Maitland has been ok for Glasgow but there’s no doubting his phenomenal pace, general talent or try scoring ability.
The Scotland pack is solid looking with little weakness and plenty of dynamism, and Captain Kelly Brown – being an integral cog at Saracens – will have an inside track on plenty of this English side’s nuances. Jackson has been going well in the Rabo at ten, and Laidlaw, who had a brilliant game two years ago in this fixture, will likely take the kicks. Lamont starting at outside centre is a bit of a worry for Scotland, in that he tends to hang onto the ball a bit much at times. However, you’d imagine Scott Johnson and Dean Ryan have had the hypnotists around this week to convince him that for Scotland to have any chance in this game, they need to get the ball to Maitland and Visser whenever possible. Tuilagi missing will suit Lamont too, because he and Scott will simply have less to deal with defensively facing Barritt and Twelvetrees.
England name a side that as mentioned doesn’t have a huge amount of international experience. Coupled with the loss of Tuilagi to injury, this is a dangerous combination against a Scotland side with nothing to lose, a new coaching set-up, and plenty of motivation and ability. More on Tuilagi later.
Brad Barritt starts at outside centre (he’s far better at inside centre with Tuilagi outside) and this accommodates Gloucester man Billy Twelvetrees for his first cap. Twelvetrees’ chance has been a long time coming, and he’s nothing if not creative. It’s will be interesting to see how he links up with Farrell who’s distribution is suspect at the best of times. If he and Farrell click, England will probably win this game. If they don’t, England are in trouble – enough England fans have problems with Tuilagi’s distribution at 13; plenty will see bigger problems now as Barritt is argualy worse than Tuilagi in this respect.
Barritt has been picking up a few tries lately in the Heineken cup (when Edinburgh were dead and buried) and against the All Blacks, but the fact is he isn’t an outside centre, and Ashton will have to come in off his wing (and hopefully not get furstrated and get into trouble) to see much of the ball. Personally with good weather forecast I would have loved to see Jonathan Joseph start at outside centre on a dry pitch in plenty of space. Quite why Lancaster has ignored him to wedge Twelvetrees in is a mystery to me, and tells me he may be taking Scotland’s threat lightly.
Full back Mike Brown starts on the left wing; continuing Stuart Lancaster’s questionable experiment of playing a full back (Foden) on the left wing last summer. Brown did have a great game against New Zealand on the wing, but again that game just can’t be taken as gospel on how things will work out here. Brown is an excellent player, but it’s another player out of position for England. It’s also notable that England’s wins last year in the six nations all involved a proper winger playing at 11.
Farrell starts at ten, and has regained some form after his disastrous period from last May to September. He’s still prone to the yips though, as his recent high pressure game at Munster showed, missing a huge amount of kicks. Starting inside him is Ben Youngs (anonymous and culpable versus Toulouse last weekend) and this is a selection mistake for me. Danny Care is the form nine at the moment in England for Quins and heaven knows why he isn’t starting this game. Lastly, Goode starts at fullback after over a month off with a shoulder injury, and only one game recently against Cardiff in the LV Cup to get him back up to speed. Goode is class, but quite how up to speed he’ll be is anyone’s guess. There’s cover there with Brown on the wing, but with Foden not making the bench, if Brown gets injured England are in a whole heap of trouble, because Goode can’t be at 100%.
The England pack is similar to Scotland’s and I can’t see huge advantage for either team in the set pieces, which I’d expect to be pretty even overall. Much is being made of Corbisiero being a loss to the scrum but Marler is well capable, and Scotland’s front row while capable, won’t be dominant.
Just how big a loss to England is Tuilagi?
Tuilagi’s loss has been played down by various members of the England camp but for us he’s a massive loss that shouldn’t be overlooked. For an England side with a lot of youth and relative inexperience compared to this Scottish team, he’s a talisman that will be sorely missed if things start to go tits-up for England. Fearless, always goes forward, draws defenders, and gives England a bit of dog that perhaps only Tom Youngs in the front row now retains for them.
He has been an integral part of every big England victory in recent times too; his rampaging against the All Blacks (would they have won without him?); the win down in France last year; the hammering they gave they Irish. Perhaps most telling was the shambles Leicester became last week in defeating Toulouse in the Heineken cup. Yes, Leicester won by four points and qualified, but it was the most fortuitous win I had seen in many a year; Toulouse missing five or six very kickable penalties and a conversion (they missed every kick!), Picamoles getting over the line but the try being not awarded as inconclusive, and then Clancy mysteriously awarding a Leicester penalty on the resulting Toulouse five metre scrum. In summation then, Leicester, normally hugely strong at home should have been well beaten here and the contention is that Tuilagi’s absence was completley to blame. For us Tuilagi is as important to England as he is to Leicester.
So where does this all leave us? For us, these are two fairly evenly matched sides full of optimism and endeavour, and first game rustiness. England have the often crippling weight of expectation on their shoulders, and Scotland have two wily operators in Ryan and Johnson taking over the coaching reins. They’ll have had an angle worked out here from early in the month but I think England may have handed them a better one with their selection today. Observe.
Take a look at England from nine to fifteen and you have five very capable kickers of the ball; Youngs, Farrell, Brown, Twelvetrees, Goode (Ashton isn’t bad with the boot either). To me this screams they’re going to kick plenty on Saturday in anticipated poor weather, like Quins successfully did down in Biarritz last week in the muck. But here’s the thing; there is rain forecast for Friday but nothing for Saturday. It’s due to be cold, clear, windy and sunny, and by 4pm kickoff the surface should be firm enough. If England stick to that game plan they’ll be kicking ball down an elusive Stuart Hogg’s throat and Scotland will counter effectively with Visser and Maitland feeding off him, targeting a new and unsure England centre partnership, and a rusty Goode at full back. If we can spot this, then Dean Ryan surely has (don’t forget he’s in charge of button pressing on the Analytics screen of Sky’s rugby coverage!), and good weather may be Scotland’s new friend on Saturday afternoon.
To summarise, these are two pretty even sides with England having pressure, players out of position, and Tuilagi missing to hinder them in running away with this game. Scotland have recent head-to-head results, a capable team, a new coaching set-up and the potential for an upset to motivate them into staying well within this handicap. England look like they’ll kick plenty of ball away so
A) that reduces the chances of them beating a 15 point handicap
and B) Scotland are guaranteed to be up for it even if England don’t kick everything and will defend like their lives depended on it. There’s two major road blocks in the England backline for tries in Farrell and Barritt, and if Scotland can take their kicks they’re well capable of being in this with 20 minutes to go, and for England to get nervous. They’ve stayed close to England in their last six games and with England having half as much international experience there’s no reason to assume they’ll run away with this game and beat a fifteen point handicap. George Clancy isn’t refereeing either (Alan Rolland is), which can only be good for Scotland as he’s not one to let the crowd influence him.
Main Rugby bet
we’re ignoring the patriotic punt & backing a capable Scotland side on the handicap +15 at 10/11 in Paddypower (+15 available in most bookies at time of writing), to keep it tight and give a green looking England side a scare (and maybe more). If the questionable New Zealand result never happened, 15 points is great start for Scotland. If you want a little more security for a slightly lesser price (5/6), the Ladbrokes have Scotland on the no-draw handicap at +15.5, covering you if England win by 15.
Don’t forget to head over to our rugby betting forum for all the latest six nations rugby betting tips, odds developments and banter.
England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler. Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 David Strettle.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant. Bench: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Moray Low, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Alastair Kellock, 20 David Denton, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Max Evans.
A little video we put together on Treviso’s last minute match winner v the Ospreys, scored by Pratichetti (or realistically, the whole Treviso team)- alot of people may have missed it.
Treviso scored two tries in the last five minutes to nick it from being 14-3 down with six minutes to go.
Probably getting a little ahead of ourselves calling it the best team try ever, but this try was a serious thing of beauty, and god dammit, we’re excited! Our personal favourite of the tournament so far anyway.
Have your say in the Rugby Betting forum, and don’t forget our member’s only Six nations betting prediction tournament, with modest cash prizes and a few free bets, details coming this week.
Biarritz host table toppers Harlequins at 8pm tonight in Friday’s main game as round six of a tough pool series descends upon us. Bookies initially started out with Biarritz -2 and -3 point favourites but have since rown back on that slightly, with what looks like money coming for Quins pushing some handicaps into -1. The straight priced win on Quins is also shortening; hovering around evens currently, where it was bigger than 5/4. One bookmaker has stuck to their guns from the outset, with Stanjames offering 0 handicap at 10/11 for both sides.
The present qualification situation facts are simple enough; Quins are currently guaranteed a home quarter final and are only after a win here for top seed in order to play 8th place runner up; Biarritz need a win and more than likely a bonus point win to qualify. Biarritz were in this position last year when they hammered a good Ospreys side 35-6 and went on to qualify for the Challenge cup and eventually win it. They are always motivated at home, and they’re definitely up for the Challenge cup too.
Here’s a stat for you from the Dropkickrugby statbunker
You have to go back to 2002 to find a game that Biarritz lost in Round six of the Heineken cup. That’s right, for the past 11 years they’ve won every game in round six – beating Saracens, Bath, Wasps (in their pomp), Leinster, Northampton (away) etc. That’s a monumental record for the old aristocrats of European rugby, and they seem to do particularly well against English sides, home and away (hence the monthy python cover photo from here!).
Motivation and teams
Let’s take a look at motivation here. Quins already have qualification and home quarter in the bag here and they’d have bitten your hand off if you’d offered them that at the start of the tournament. Winning this pool with top tournament seeding would be a fine achievement but consider that they may well meet current champions Leinster if they do. It’s fair to say that nothing is certain and they may end up with the easiest draw of all by picking up only a losing bonus point here.
They’ve named a strong team but it’s the same team that has struggled in the wet at times this season, with flakey performances losing away to Bath and only managing to beat Worcester at home by a late drop goal by Nick Evans – who incidentally is somewhat wobbly with the boot lately and doesn’t like kicking from soft ground either. Crucially though, Quins are missing Nick Easter (replaced by Guest) this week and I feel O’Shea has rested him due to his lynchpin-status for this side – especically in the wet. Easter is ice-cool at the back of the scrum, always makes ground in contact, chooses the right angles, and knows when and when not to offload. Without him in what will be wet and mucky conditions Quins have lost a guaranteed source of leadership and go forward. He’s a huge loss here, and O’Shea is undoubtedly saving him for the later rounds.
Now look at Biarritz. Hammered away in round one at Quins gives them motivation enough to front up here. But they also play on Friday night with the entire weekend ahead of them. All they can do is play what is in front of them and they can only give themselves the best chance possible and go after the win. A win gives them entry to the Challenge cup quarters more than likely, and a bonus point win gets them in with a Quarter final chance in the Heineken. And they’ve named a team that looks set to give it their all- their key triumvirate of Traille, Yachvilli and Hairydonkey all start, along with Balshaw, Baby, and some serious weight and ability in the pack. The Biarritz scrum should get parity at least, with French international Barcella up against James Johnston. Johnston has upped his scrummaging game this season but he does have a weakness and he’s up against real quality here; this could be the losing of the game for Quins, especially with Easter missing at the back of a potentially retreating scrum.
Biarritz are a wet weather side, they seem to thrive in it in the TOP14, and in games against Connacht and Zebre recently in the Heineken Cup. They have a pack that has dominated wet and mucky games all season and tomorrow my dear, it will be wet and mucky, with heavy rain since yesterday and no let up to kick off according to the internerd’s various weather sites.
Friday’s Heinekn cup rugby main bet
We’ve backed Biarritz for the straight win at 10/11 in stanjames, also in Bluesquare (4/6 elsewhere). The motivation is all with Biarritz. The 11 year (ten wins at home) round six winning record is with Biarritz (and remember they are on a serious unbroken Heineken cup qualification run too, and they don’t want to be the side that blows that). John Lacey the referee tends to favour the better home breakdown team too (Ospreys last week v Leicester) and without Nick Easter playing for Quins, that’s Biarritz again for me.
The weather is with Biarritz – they’ve been excellent in the wet in this cup and in the TOP14 lately. And most of all Quins don’t need to win. The Biarritz 1-12 win is slightly interesting at 6/4 biggest in Stanjames (13/10 elsewhere), but with Biarritz needing to go after tries – you never know what might happen – they got them last year against the Ospreys. If you want a smaller bet then I wouldn’t put you off the 1-12 but i’m happy on the 10/11 straight win to be honest.
The draw isn’t to be totally ruled out either for a small bet in the conditions at biggest 20/1 in coral (18/1 generally). Quins have a tendency to cut things fine at times. They’d probably be happy enough with a draw too, so if there’s three in it with 5 to go and Quins get a penalty, they’ll take the kick for the draw rather than go for the corner (and that’s nothing to do with Chris Robshaw being captain by the way!).
Quins will see better days and we fancy them to maybe win the competition, and to be honest it will do them no harm to lose tomorrow – they’ve been ticking along nicely under tha radar and bookies are wrongly (we belive) pricing them as big as 8/1 outright tournament winners (stanjames again incidentally, where Ladbrokes have them 6/1). The loss would keep them under the radar, and you get the feeling that’s just where O’Shea wants them.
You could do much worse than backing them at 8/1 each way for the tournament outright in stanjames with the each way paying 1/3 odds. With a home quarter guaranteed and maybe a home semi in the draw – they have have the beating of anyone in this tournament. Then they’re in a final and anything can happen, even if they lose you get your money back and then some.
Quins’ big days are yet to come though, Friday should be Bairritz’s night to win. 10/11 biggest in Stanjames.
Harlequins team: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Williams, 13 George Lowe, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Ugo Monye, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Guest, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Maurie Fa’asavalu, 5 George Robson, 4 Olly Kohn, 3 James Johnston, 2 Joe Gray, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Rob Buchanan, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Will Collier, 19 Charlie Matthews, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Karl Dickson, 22 Ben Botica, 23 Ollie Lindsay-Hague.
Ulster v Glasgow, Heineken Cup Rugby Betting – Ulster -16 10/11 Ladbrokes, Glasgow +17 10/11 Paddypower, Sky Sports 8pm
Ulster v Glasgow Heineken cup rugby betting
It’s crunch time in the Heineken cup for almost every team in playoff contention, and after stuttering to a loss at home to Northampton last time out Ulster simply have to beat Glasgow here, preferably (for them) with a bonus point as Northampton are hot on their heels. That would leave Ulster on 20 points with a tough trip to Castres in round six, where nothing is guaranteed. The one thing Ulster won’t want is to be depending on a win in Castres for qualification. If they can get the bonus point win tonight, and Northampton beat Castres by any score, then Ulster are guaranteed a playoff spot as group winners by virtue of their superior head to head with Northampton – who can at most reach 20 points from their remaining two games.
Ulster will be aware that they can secure qualification tonight with a bonus point win – anything next week in Castres regarding a home quarter final will be a bonus. Of course if Castres beat Northampton Ulster will still need something down in Castres, but that’s unlikely with the disharmony in the Castres camp right now. Ulster’s opponents tonight Glasgow are out of the tournament, with not even Amlin Challenge cup qualification to play for at this point. They have plenty of injuries, and I have a sneaking suspicion they’re looking to next week’s game against Northampton at home for their only win of this year’s Heineken cup.
Ulster welcome back plenty of experience into the backline and it’s quite potent looking, with Payne, Gilroy, and Trimble all in fantastic form. The often-maligned Paddy Wallace has been integral to this Ulster side’s success over the past two years and after a rest for the past few weeks he comes back into the side to partner Darren Cave in the centre. Cave has looked lost without Wallace at times and aside from the home loss against Northampton (where the entire team floundered under the weight of expectation), these two are excellent together, and are more than a match for Dunbar and Horne (sounds like a brewery…or a wrestling partnership) in the Glasgow midfield. The rest of the Ulster side picks itself with injuries the way they are- they look stronger than Glasgow everywhere but at lock, where Henderson and Stevenson may lack a bit in the partnership stakes. There’s no questioning their ability to get on the front foot, but they may have issues in the lineout with Glasgow having so many operators.
The Glasgow side overall is seriously hit with injuries, and as above, It seems that they might be saving their powder for Northampton next week- no side wants to leave the tournament without one win, and for Scottish rugby’s ERC place negotiations alone they’ll want at least one of their sides to have registered a win. So this week they bring in Weir at ten instead of Jackson. Weir and Pyrgos don’t form the most capable partnership – indeed they were together for the only time this season that Glasgow have been beaten by more than tonight’s 16 point handicap – 31-3 away at Munster on the 1st December last month. They’ve left players like Hogg on the bench, and despite having plenty of lineout operators in the second and back row, there’s a lack of pace overall in their pack. Their one big hope will be DTH Van Der Merve on the left wing, who is in good try-scoring form, but you’d wonder how much decent ball he’ll see.
Overall, for both hunger and playing ability, this Ulster side eclipse this week’s Glasgow squad of 22 (not the usual 23 players, as they’re so short of props to injury that they have no replacement). So can they beat the handicap? There’s only two things standing in their way – the weather, and Pascale Gauzere the referee.
Gauzere is the whistle-happy Frenchman who refereed (destroyed) the Munster v Saracens game last month. I can humourously say without reservation that his was the worst refereeing performance of a top level club game I can remember. Indeed, only Craig Joubert’s world cup effort for New Zealand eclipses it for me. He whistled Munster off the park all night and virtually marched Saracens up the field to secure them a bonus point in the final minutes, awarding two astonishing penalties. Saracens missed a lot of kicks that night but Gauzere completely ruined what should have been a great spectacle between two of the best teams in club rugby, with a great rivalry. Ulster better hope that whatever was going on with Gauzere and the ERC for the Munster/Saracens match doesn’t extend to Ulster. Other than that, the weather forecast is for light rain and mist but it’s not a huge worry to be honest; Ulster have racked up some big scores in the wet so far this year.
Friday’s Main bet-
We’ve backed ulster -16 10/11 in Ladbrokes (-17 everywhere else). For a number of reasons I think Ulster can beat this handicap well, as long as Gauzere doesn’t turn this into a mess. Glasgow are a severely depleted side, and for me look to be aiming for next week’s game against Northampton in a last ditch effort to salvage a win from this season. Finally someone in the Ulster camp saw some sense last week in their 47 -17 win against the Scarlets; Pienaar looks to be back on penalty kicks for Ulster so there shouldn’t be any festering about on the scoreboard thanks to paddy Jackson missing handy punts at goal.
Glasgow have had a tendency to drastically fall away from games in the second half recently (Munster, Edinburgh twice, Northampton), and while the second half handicap of -9 looks tempting, i’m willing to take the overall cap as the safer bet, while hoping they stay true to form in that respect, helped on by their injury situation and light bench. If Glasgow get behind they’ll have to try things and I’m not sure they have the players or the drive to succeed with that tactic this week. Space will open up, and this Ulster side can exploit that.
In home games this season in both the Rabo Pro12 and the Heineken cup, Ulster have scored a total of 232 points in eight games, which averages out to just under 30 points per game. With Weir and Pyrgos running things for Glasgow I’m not sure they’ll be able to keep up on the scoreboard against a lethal Ulster backline, superior scrum, and Nick Williams in the form of his life. Ulster to win by more than 16 in going after an essential bonus point.
Don’t forget to head on over to therugby betting forumand give your two cents on this and all of the other games this weekend. There’s plenty of discussion on the rest of the weekend’s games but we can’t see every decent punt this weekend – so come help your fellow punters out. There’s also live in-game chat on the home page of the forum for those of you who want (and who want to contribute to) blow by blow accounts of what’s happening across the tournament, along with the odd rant!
We’ve had a long look at last weekend’s results across all three leagues, and below are some general predictions for final standings per pool after round six, along with final predicted standings at the bottom. Nothing is guaranteed of course, but there was alot to be learned the past two weeks.
Heineken cup rugby betting – Pool one predictions-
Round five fixtures
Pool 1 Edinburgh Rugby v Munster Rugby 12.45 Romain Poite (Fra)
Pool 1 Racing Metro 92 v Saracens 16.40 Alain Rolland (Ire)
Round six fixtures
Pool 1 Munster Rugby v Racing Metro 92 12.45 Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Pool 1 Saracens v Edinburgh Rugby 12.45 Jerome Garces (Fra)
Pool 1 Predictions – Sarries 20, Munster 20 – based on Sarries getting a losing bonus at Racing at five at home to Edinburgh, and Munster getting five at Edinburgh or at home to Racing Metro and winning the other game. Very interestingly, if this happens it comes down to match points to decide who tops the group after finishing equal on 20 points. Then it comes down to tries scored, which is also one a piece from the second game between Munster and Saracens. Finally it comes down to aggregate points in the matches. The results were 15-9 Munster and 19-13 Sarries. So the total aggregate then is Munster 28, and Sarries 28! If you take a look at the ERC rules (here) at first glance it looks like no provision has been made for this outcome.
However, we called ERC Rugby today and they have clarified that the following paragraph on that rules page applies to this possible situation, despite the fact it says ‘clubs from different pools’. Therefore, if Munster and Saracens draw on 20 points, the ultimate result will come down to;
(a) the number of tries scored in all pool matches.
(b) aggregate points difference from all pool matches.
(c) the club with the fewest number of players sent off and/or suspended in all pool matches.
(d) toss of a coin.
Currently, Sarries have nine tries (1 v Munster, 3 v Racing, and 5 v Edinburgh) and Munster have seven ( 1 v Sarries, 4 v Edinburgh, and 2 v Racing Metro). Munster will have to do some serious tryscoring in their next two games to overhaul this figure, as you’d expect a try-fest for Sarries last game at home to Edinburgh. Tough ask, but doable. Sarries are in the driving seat for topping the pool though, once they get a losing bonus at least at Racing this weekend. That being said, that isn’t guaranteed; Racing were excellent away in Toulon last weekend, despite Toulon getting an awful lot of hometown decisions. If they bring the same cohesion and intensity at home, I think they’ll beat Sarries, and maybe by more than seven. Remember, they’re still in this competition, and they might fancy their chances away at Munster. Plus, they’re slightly adrift in the TOP14 race for the first six places and might decide to concentrate on the Heineken now.
Heineken Cup Pool two predictions-
Round five fixtures
Pool 2 Ospreys v Leicester Tigers 15.00 John Lacey (Ire)
Pool 2 Toulouse v Benetton Treviso 16.00 Wayne Barnes (Eng)
Round six fixtures
Pool 2 Leicester Tigers v Toulouse 15.00 George Clancy (Ire)
Pool 2 Benetton Treviso v Ospreys 16.00 Greg Garner (Eng)
Pool 2 Predictions, Leicester 19, Toulouse 19 (maybe ospreys 19). Another tight finish predicted here, with both Toulouse and Leicester likely finishing on 19 points. Based on Leicester getting a losing bonus away at Ospreys (the likely loss of Flood to the citing is crucial, as Ford isn’t up to it at this level yet (**Update**, Flood has magically escaped a citing from the RFU, no doubt the RFU looking after one of their own which I suppose was to be expected. If does highlight however that professional rugby still has plenty of unfairness and bias, and it isn’t a level playing field), and beating Toulouse at home, and Toulouse getting a five pointer at home to Treviso this weekend and a losing bonus away at leicester. With Leicester misfiring and their back row looking particularly unfit, you’d think Toulouse would beat Leicester away, but don’t bank on it with George Clancy refereeing the Tigers at home.
Clancy is always a good referee for English teams so don’t panic Tigers fans. This would leave things down to tries scored between the two teams, so Leicester are going to need to score some tries in that game too, with Toulouse leading in that area in the head to head. The Ospreys could sneak the group if results go their way and they score plenty of tries at home to the Tigers in round five- unlikely, but possible. On balance I think Toulouse will probably beat Leicester away but this group is a coin toss at the minute, as reflected by the bookies who have Leicester and Toulouse both even money to top the group. Toulouse may squeak through once they can score the same number of tries in the last game as Leicester, and make sure they get a losing bonus point at least. In truth though if they can’t beat Leicester with George Ford at ten they probably don’t deserve to be in the quarters – fascinating game in prospect there.
Heineken Cup Pool three predictions-
Round five fixtures
Pool 3 Zebre v Biarritz Olympique 14.35 Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire)
Pool 3 Harlequins v Connacht Rugby 13.35 Mathieu Raynal (Fra)
Round six fixtures
Pool 3 Connacht Rugby v Zebre 20.00 Pascal Gauzère (Fra)
Pool 3 Biarritz Olympique v Harlequins 21.00 John Lacey (Ire)
Pool 3 Predictions, Quins 28, Biarritz 14 – Quins are a cert to qualify at this point, and i’d expect a bonus at home to Connacht and a tight win away in Biarritz. Biarritz won’t be qualifying more than likely, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Zebre beat them this weekend. Zebre were good away at Ospreys this weekend gone, and this game coming up is essentially their only big game this season where the rugby world might be watching, so they’ll give it a right good go at beating a stuttering Biarritz side.
Quins are a decent each way bet for the competition this year – they have a virtually guaranteed home quarter final, and if they can dodge Clermont and pull a home semi from the draw, you’d fancy them to take most teams at home bar Clermont. Many people are discounting them because they’ve had an easy run in the pool but don’t let that put you off – they’ll be fresher than most sides, and the Heineken cup is no doubt their target this year. They’re 8/1 in stanjames, skybet or Ladbrokes ( as low as 6/1 elsewhere) to win the tournament, and they’re paying each way terms of 1/3 (so if they reach the final and lose, you still get your money back and about 2 thirds your total stake in of winnings, and if they win, then you’re in the money in a major way). Not bad value if you’re looking for an outright bet – the 8/1 will be gone if they win their next two games, which they should. They’re also an English team, which is an important asset this year considering their threat to pull the plug early in the season.
Heineken Cup Pool four predictions-
Round five fixtures
Pool 4 Ulster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors 20.00 Pascal Gauzère (Fra)
Pool 4 Northampton Saints v Castres Olympique 20.00 George Clancy (Ire)
Round six fixtures
Pool 4 Glasgow Warriors v Northampton Saints 13.35 Leighton Hodges (Wal)
Pool 4 Castres Olympique v Ulster Rugby 14.35 Nigel Owens (Wal)
Pool 4 Predictions, Ulster 22, Northampton 19, (Castres 14 or top the group?) – This is the toughest group to call for a number of reasons. Common wisdom expects Ulster to nail Glasgow at home and get a five pointer and win down in Castres, but there’s a few problems with that situation.
Castres rested a few important players last weekend in the TOP14 away at surprise package Grenoble (which they lost by 6).(Klassy Kockott wasn’t here, but he was at his sister’s wedding in South Africa – so it isn’t 100% that they were intending to rest him for this week’s HC game). They dealt with Northampton very easily down in Castres earlier in the group stages, where Northampton were lucky to get a bonus after Kockott missed some very easy kicks. On balance, it looks likely they’re coming up here to compete and if they were to win I’d marginally fancy them to beat Ulster down in Castres in round six, and thus qualify for the quarters. So much is dependent on this weekend’s game at Northampton, and Ulster are far from home and dry either way.
Jim Mallinder has a dilemma on his hands now – Northampton are going well in the league and have beaten Exeter away and they virtually beat Sarries the week before (everywhere but the scoreboard,thanks to some woeful refereeing against Northampton). With Leicester in the doldrums and Quins and Sarries likely to be focusing on the Heineken cup (and not playing brilliantly), they have a very real chance to win the league this year. So does Mallinder make mistake by naming a full side for this weekend, and gamble that they can get a bonus point win away at Glasgow in the final round? Or does he be realistic and name a half a side v Castres and say goodbye to the Heineken cup for the season, hope for the win and look upon it as match practice for his backup players? It’s a crucial decision I think, because Castres will pitch up with a full side. Going on Mallinder’s history, he’s likely to go for it and hope they can get five away at Glasgow in round six to leave them on 20, which may get them through. This game will decide so much right across the pools – make sure you get to see it on Friday – it’ll probably be far better than the Ulster game that’s on at the same time, which should be a good Ulster win.
One interesting bet here is Castres to top their group at 10/1 in Bet365. Keep an eye out for Northampton’s team news in the Dropkickrugby.com betting forum this coming Thursday, as if they name a below full strength team this is well worth a small bet. One other thing against Castres (who have been overall excellent this year in the TOP14) is the fact George Clancy is refereeing the game. Clancy always seems to favour the English teams in his refereeing internationally and on the club level – maybe he just understand their general style of play. Who knows.
Overall a very tough group to call and anything could happen – Castres are as good as Northampton and at home can beat Ulster – we may see neither Ulster or Saints qualify this year. If the above results do go accordingly, Ulster may secure the most favourable possible home quarter final opponent in Montpellier.
Heineken Cup Pool five predictions-
Round five fixtures
Pool 5 Leinster Rugby v Scarlets 18.00 Jerome Garces (Fra)
Pool 5 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Exeter Chiefs 19.00 Nigel Owens (Wal)
Round six fixtures
Pool 5 Scarlets v ASM Clermont Auvergne 18.00 Neil Paterson (Sco)
Pool 5 Exeter Chiefs v Leinster Rugby 18.00 Romain Poite (Fra)
Pool 5 Predictions, Clermont 27, Leinster 20 – This group winner is forgone conclusion at this point, and Clermont are virtually guaranteed a home quarter final. They’ll get five points at home to Exeter, and will likely beat the Scarlets away from home. There is a small chance that the Scarlets could pull off a shock if their ground is in poor shape as it may well be. It’s unlikely though, and Clermont will top the group though so they’re through and almost definitely on a home quarter final.
Leinster seem to have gotten over their slump and i’d expect them to get five at home to Scarlets and just sneak five away at Exeter. Leinster are the current champions and they have an ability to do the necessary when they have to. Many of their big names are returning, and they had a steely determined look about them away at Edinburgh in the league last week, with Sean O’Brien in particular looking to be peaking at the right time. Exeter have adopted a bit of a ‘devil may care’ attitude lately with ball in hand and if they continue that, Leinster can score four tries against them in a shootout. Exeter may have a tough reputation at home, but if they’re playing for nothing and Leinster turn on the intensity (which they will, guaranteed), there’s big questions over whether they’ll hold out.
Clermont are biggest 11/4 to win the tournament in Skybet and it’s hard to see any reason not to back them if you can afford a decent sized bet. They have one ot the top three packs in Europe, the best inside centre in the world right now in Fofana, brilliant backs and a bench that always has at least five good impact players. They want this tournament after last year’s disappointment and there’s not one team I would back to beat them right now anywhere across Europe. I expect them to win the it outright, as long as James stays fit. He’s not the greatest player in the world, but he holds the whole machine together far better than Skrela can.
Heineken Cup Pool six predictions-
Round five fixtures
Pool 6 Sale Sharks v Montpellier 20.00 Leighton Hodges (Wal)
Pool 6 Toulon v Cardiff Blues 14.35 JP Doyle (Eng)
Round six fixtures
Pool 6 Cardiff Blues v Sale Sharks 15.40 Peter Fitzgibbon (Ire)
Pool 6 Montpellier v Toulon 16.40 Alain Rolland (Ire)
Pool 5 Predictions, Toulon 24, Montpellier 22 – Toulon were brought down to earth with a bang last weekend losing at home to Racing metro in a game in which they were 16 point favourites with the bookies pre-game. They have no doubt been the form side in Europe the past few months but Racing gave everyone a lesson in how to beat them here; Front up, don’t back down, and keep believing. When on the backfoot Toulon were lost, players missing tackles, no leadership ( too many chiefs, too few Indians), with johnny Wilkinson making some particlularly poor decisions at penalty time and kicking from hand. Some have said the reason Armitage hasn’t got near the England squad is because he’s poor on the back foot and that was in evidence here as he went missing for large parts of the game, as did others. Missed tackles, missed kicks, handling errors; itleads us all to one inexorable conclusion – Toulon don’t like it up them and if a team gets in their face in the knock out stages the mercs may wilt.
They’ll get five points at home to Cardiff in round five, especially with homer ref JP Doyle taking care of proceedings, but more than likely so will Montpellier away to Sale on the basis that Sale would be absolutely crazy to put their full team out with relegation threatening in the Premiership. That sets us up for a final day in Montpellier and a win there will guarantee Montpellier qualification. Toulon will be already qualified at that point, and Montpellier are well capable of beating them with their full side out. Toulon getting a losing bonus point should see them with a home quarter final anyway, even if they lose away to Montpellier in that final pool game, so there may be a lack of motivation for Toulon to win that game as well as a determined Montpellier side facing them.
So where does that leave us? Well, if the above all work out as planned ( unlikely?!), this is the scenario based on the group winners getting the first six seedings;
1. Harlequins 28
2. Clermont 27
3. Toulon 24
4. Ulster 22
5. Saracens 22
6. Toulouse 19
7. Montpellier 22
8. Munster/Leinster 20 (depending on who scores more tries currently Munster 7, Leinster 3)
Leaving us with,
Quins v Munster. Clermont v Montpellier.
Toulon v Toulouse. Ulster v Saracens
and don’t forget the semi-finals are an open draw.
There are of course any number of things that could happen here right across the pools, and Castres could really throw a spanner in the works for Ulster if they can beat Northampton. Likewise, Toulouse are eminently capable of dispatching Leicester away with Ford at the helm and an out of sorts backrow. Leinster may not pick up a bonus away at Exeter, nor may Munster away at Edinburgh, which would open the door for Leicester who may be on 19 come the end of round six. It’s all leading us towards what will be a fascinating weekend. We’ve a number of longrunning bets going but the most attractive one right now before this weekend is Harlequins at 8/1 to win the tournament as mentioned above (each way).
There were quite a few games last weekend in which teams that were fairly dominant failed to find reward on the scoreboard for much of the game. December in general has been a poor month for conventional punters, and one of the main culprits has most definitely been the poor state of many grounds around Britain and Ireland. Looking at the weather for this weekend it has been generally ok in the run up, with the rain easing off slightly and Friday night looking clear overall. Still, grounds are still soft underfoot and if we’ve learned anything from December it’s that handicaps are proving to be dicey affairs, with an inordinate amount falling right on (or one point either side of), the bookies’ handicaps. With this in mind we’re taking a different trail this Friday evening with two thoroughbreds on patchy form.
Worcester v Leicester Premiership rugby betting, 20:00 GMT ESPN. Tigers -4 general
Leicester head to Worcester for their Round thirteen showdown after barely sneaking off with a home win against Gloucester last weekend. It was a strange game that found Leicester defending their own line with seconds to go, having owned the scrums and dominating overall for about 70 minutes. There were two reasons why Leicester didn’t put this game away – woeful refereeing of a non-existant Gloucester front row (as Richard Cockerill complained about early in the week), and an abysmal George Ford at ten (who replaced an ill Toby Flood just before kick-off, and who has been dropped from the squad entirely for this Friday’s clash).
Ford missing handy penalty kicks (the word ‘missing’ is actually a kindness – more like ‘butchering’ or maybe ‘mangling’) and the non-refereeing overall of the Gloucester scrum allowed Glaws to roll with the muddy punches when this game should have been well beyond them. Credit to them, they almost took their opportunity as they surged up-field through their excellent workhorse Monahan ( Irish squad call-up anyone? Mr. Kidney? Bueller ?..) for an attempted late mugging at the death.
The Warriors name a side with a few injury returnees and a few notable absentees – Hodgson at scrum half will be missed particularly. There’s six changes to the team that went to Sale and you can bet they were targeting that game more than this one at home to Leicester. This simply means that logically they’re not as strong as they were last week when they lost at bottom-of-table Sale Sharks, who were unlucky not to get a try bonus. Taking a look at Worcester’s home form, despite losing only once there (to Bath) this season the quality of the opposition they beat means their home form is not as daunting as it is at first glance. Home wins against the three relegation battlers London Irish, London Welsh, and Sale (that they were lucky not to draw), and a home win v Saracens. That Saracens team lost 12-3 but missed five penalties, were missing lots of players to the England camp, and they blew umpteen red-zone opportunities. Worcester deserve credit for the wins, but it’s no reason to assume they’ll win on Friday night.
You get what I’m saying here then – Worcester weakened, form not as amazing as it looks, and Leicester with a far stronger starting fifteen and squad. The handicap is -4 for Tigers and while I expect them to beat it well, boggy ground isn’t mugging us this week.
Part one of Friday’s Rugby Betting double – Tigers, 8/15 to win.
Edinburgh v Leinster, Rabo Pro12 Rugby Betting, 19:35 GMT BBC Alba. Leinster -9 general
Edinburgh have been truly woeful this year and there’s no reason to assume that won’t continue on Friday night against the European champions as they try to ramp it up before they chase Heineken cup survival and go after a bonus point against Scarlets next week. Edinburgh have won three games this season and all morale is gone from the squad with coach Micheal Bradley undoubtedly on the way out soon.
New man Piers Francis at ten has had a series of bad performances, with many fans calling for him to be dropped, and even captain Laidlaw is in the doldrums. There’s nowhere this Edinburgh side has the upper hand here tomorrow bar the fact they’re at home, and Edinburgh have suffered plenty of big defeats here so far. Their recent form off their most recent two games against Glasgow ( it has been awful before that) was essentially Glasgow getting well ahead on the scoreboard as they pleased, and then easing off and letting Edinburgh lose respectably.
I’m expecting them to take a beating up front first and foremost, with Nel and Murray in the front row for Edinburgh up against Mike Ross and Cian Healy – I just can’t see Leinster losing this head to head. Sidenote; It’s important when assessing a Rabo Pro12 game, to look at the referee as the standard is often dire. However, it’s reasonable to have faith in the referee Ian Davies on Friday night, who generally seems to be fair, clear, and unbiased from when I’ve watched him. Once he refs the scrums right Leinster should have haggis-loads of penalty ball on Friday.
Moving onto the backrows and you have an all international had hitting unit of Sean O’Brien, Heaslip and McLaughlin against Denton, Basilaia and McINally. I only see this battle going one way- Leinster’s. Brian O’Driscoll returns alongside Darcy and from 10-15 I’d only take Visser from Edinburgh in place of Carr. In fact, from the whole starting fifteen I’d only take Visser and Laidlaw onto the leinster side to replace Carr and Reddan.
Will Leinster be up for it is the final question? Yes, most definitely. They’re drifting in the league and in need of points, and need a good performance before the Heineken cup kicks back in. Since their poor Heineken Cup games Schmidt has gone back to basics and that kind of simple direct style is perfect for Edinburgh. BOD is back to guide them, they have a proper full back with Kearney back from injury, and they have plenty of motivation to make their dominance tell and win well. There has been a lot of money for the Leinster handicap, which started at -7 and is now up to -9 in most places but again, we’re steering clear of handicaps this Friday night as Leinster are not in amazing form and you couldn’t be confident on a minus nine away from home. leinster have a good bench but it’s not stunning, so the likes of Talei coming on for Edinburgh could help ruin a Leinster handicap bet with a late score. (Incidentally Tim Visser is 10/3 in Ladbrokes for anytime try, and he’s as low as 13/8 elsewhere. Leinster or not, Visser almost always seems to get a chance for a score and the 10/3 in ladbrokes should be taken for a small interest- we have).
Part two of Friday’s Rugby Betting double- Leinster to win at 2/7.
Friday’s Rugby Betting Pick
Combined into a win double, Leinster and Leicester at 8/15 and 2/7 (both best combo prices in Paddypower) returns just under evens (1.97). You’re dodging the handicap risk (which has been very high of late), and backing two teams that are far superior to their opposition and with plenty of motivation. That’s our main Friday night bet.
Don’t forget to head over and join in the forum if you haven’t already, for plenty more chat about the rest of this weekends Premiership, Rabo Pro 12, and TOP14 betting