Category Archives: Six Nations Rugby Betting

Six Nations Rugby betting 2013, previews picks and tips, with Rugby Odds analysis and insight on every game of this year’s competition

Six Nations weekend four review- more nonsense

Six Nations diary, weekend four – amazingly, worse than the last last week.

Six nations rugby opinion
After last weekend’s Craig Joubert Clown show for the England France debacle, I came into this weekend with some renewed optimism – surely the six Nations company would have gotten their act together and spoken to their referees about the bizarre and inexplicable decisions they were making? It turns out I was wrong. We were all treated to more of the same and with the same contempt – certain teams (the big rugby markets) being favoured, and certain teams being punished/unfairly treated. In many ways, it was worse than last week, as this time the TMO’s wanted a piece of the comedy action in the Ireland France match.

Let me once again acknowledge that referees have a hard job, and say that I couldn’t do it. They control a game with millions watching, and they are only human and under alot of pressure. They are bound to make mistakes from time to time; such is the nature of humanity and sport – that’s why they get an easy ride most of the time and rightly so. But when does it all become too much? When do co-incidences and calamities become more than just plain old human incompetence? Again and again we the PAYING fans (whether by buying tickets, or paying your licence fee), have to accept that some teams are not getting a fair roll of the dice, and that we have make do with unfair contests. And it has become so commonplace no one is talking about it. It is happening too much now for it to be simply poor refereeing. It is not poor refereeing. It is beyond that. Understandably, you won’t hear the TV pundits attack referees for two very simple reasons – One – they can’t attack the very foundation of their product that cost them a fortune because –Two – the next time the coverage contracts are being negotiated they’ll be left out in the dark by the powers who own this competition. But the faces of the BBC lads on Saturday after the Scotland /Wales game said enough. They can see it, just like you and I can see it.

The dream tie of Wales v England for the title decider has now been set up, and Six Nations Rugby Ltd, Company number 358420, 2nd Floor, Dolmen House, 4 Earlsfort Terrace Dublin 2, must be be having a hard time believing their luck. The tournament will now have many millions of extra viewers worldwide with a meaningful showdown for the title now a reality. Indeed all of us rugby fans are no doubt looking forward to it. But does the ends justify the means? Let’s take a look at this weekend’s games, and how things got to this point.

Scotland V Wales Round one of a three part Comedy Classic – Act one – I expect you to die of Boredom Mister Bond

Craig ‘Blow-veld’ Joubert might be the funniest guy you don’t know. He could be laughing his head off at home with a white fluffy cat in one arm and a glass of Brandy in the other, wondering how he keeps getting away with refereeing games Stevie-wonder style. The World cup final, Wales v France last year, England v France, and now this game (and there have been others). After our widely-read report on him and his ‘performance’ against France two weeks ago, the Six Nations company had Youtube close down the Youtube account of the user whose match video we used to illustrate Joubert’s carry-on. The article is still there, but the videos are gone. If you have the game recorded though, you can still follow the match clock times. This week, for Craig Joubert’s latest trick, he managed to yet again destroy any semblance of entertaining rugby for the paying public.

This game set an official record for the most penalties ever attempted in an international match. That’s official by the way; I’m not making it up – it is a cold hard fact. Joubert whistled everything – watch the game back for all the scrum penalties (which were a lottery). For most of them, the ball was at the base of the scrum and he could at least have called advantage and let things play out. But he didn’t want that. He systematically went about dismantling any chance of Wales cutting loose and getting into a rhythm. He stopped them playing and he stopped Scotland playing. Wales were by far the better side on the day but could only win by ten points in the end. Enough to set up the theoretical title decider against England the following week but realistically, with England due to rack up the points against Italy, the title still looked like it would go to the largest and most lucrative Six Nations market – England. We won’t dwell too much on this game – we’ve said enough about Craig Joubert last week, and it’s up to you now to watch which home unions give him games in the future. He’s is totally unsuited to rugby refereeing in his current form. Yet we guarantee you he will shag up more games in future because he serves a rare purpose (and i’m not talking about Flipper).

Ireland v France – Act two, the hilarious fantastical adventures of Steve Walsh

The debacle continued right into Saturday night. You know where we’re going to first – the TMO (Nigel Whitehouse)/Stevie Walsh non-decision. Keith Earls, Louis Picamoles, & Debaty are all sprinting after the ball in a race to the try line and there’s only one man winning – Keith Earls. Debaty knows this, and who can blame him for giving Earls a shove – had Ireland scored, the game was effectively over, and he knew Earls was going to get there. We saw the slow motion so many times, there was no doubt in our minds whether it was a penalty – the only question was whether or not it would be a penalty try or a simple penalty due to the fact Earls was perhaps not certain to have scored had Debaty not fouled him. ‘Penalite!’ said the French gents in front of us in the pub…. ‘bat nat a pen-al-ee-tay try hawheehaw heehaw’‘,we all cheered, having great fun.

Then the decision came and the whole pub of a few hundred went silent. Genuinely no one could believe the decision that a 22 drop out was given. It beggared belief. A few hundred pissheads in a pub can see it’s at least a penalty, so how can the TMO Nigel Whitehouse and Steve Walsh, professionals, not see the blatantly obvious and act accordingly together to arrive at the correct decision? In fairness to Whitehouse, I think it was Walsh who dismissed him for no good reason.

This is the reality of what I’m talking about when I say certain interests are ruining the game of rugby. I spoke two weeks ago about the effect Joubert’s reffing had on the people where I watched the England v France game. People were sitting there, some laughing their heads off at the screen, and some shouting, when he penalized France when Ashton was holding on in the French 22. It was that final decision that made me spend hours on that video dissection of that game. He SIMPLY could not have been mistaken.The game has become farce, especially with him refereeing.

The French guys were all shaking their head after the Steve Walsh NON-decision on Saturday (and there were lots of disillusioned Frenchies), doing that bottom lip-sticking-out headshake that French people do so well. French TV pundits (pundeets?) all agreed it was a penalty for Ireland. L’Equipe said it was a penalty for Ireland (our forum guys on the ground in France tell us). EVERYONE, bar the referee and the TMO said it was penalty Ireland.

Now cast your mind back to England v France, and the wholesale violation of French rugby by Craig Joubert. There was outrage France-wide about his performance, in some papers and on all of their forums. This site alone had thousands of French reads of our article on the game. So is it then a coincidence that the other most lucrative rugby market for the Six Nations got some bizarre calls in their favour the week after they were taken to the cleaners by Craig Joubert? This is not a conspiracy theory folks – this is a simple search for cause-and-effect. Why would a professional referee and a TMO not give a decision that the dogs in the street could see was there to be made (Earls v Debaty), and that there was no ambiguity about? This could not have been incompetence – there were no fuzzy camera-angles – it was plain as day what had happened. So after the largest rugby market (England) had a win handed to them by Craig Joubert two weeks ago, the second most lucrative market had some bizarre decisions go in their favour this week? Quel surprise! (especially after Joubert was even publicly criticised by the now-certifiable Phillippe Saint Andre). France have had a whole lot taken from them by Joubert, and Steve Walsh gave them a tiny bit back this week. Hmm, how nice. But I loved it that even the French guys in the pub were shaking their heads when they got the decision. They could smell it.

That decision kept France in the game after Louis Picamoles was given a try that was illegal to draw the game. Picamoles hit the deck, made a double movement, and Walsh put his hands up for a try. No TMO, no replay. But the French media didn’t think it was a try either.

And if you need any more reasons to question what the hell is going on, you only have to look at the official video on the RBS Six nations Youtube channel (remember, they’re actively doing some Goeballs-like censoring of all other fan videos and other ‘copyright infringements’ showing bits of the games.

The farce continues unabated.

England v Italy – Act three – ‘Was that an Italian knock on? No? I’m still going to give a blue knock on.’

Italy weathered the English storm here with a gutsy defensive display and came within a whisker of drawing the game, if not winning it. Italy were widely written off pre-game, and the handicap was around 26 points across the board. George Clancy was yet again reffing a big English home game at HQ, and most people expected things to go smoothly for England.

Looking back at the score of the England v France game and then this game, you’d wonder if two different teams were wearing England shirts. How could England beat a France team that were doing so well, make them lose their heads, dominate the penalty count, and then not manage to turn over an ordinary enough Italy side without having scare after scare in the final 15 minutes? How indeed Mr. Joubert.

Moving on, there were two hometown decisions in this game that kept the final lucrative big selling weekend showdown alive for the Six Nations company by ensuring an English win.

Towards the end of the first half Italy were surprisingly right in this game. Parisse made a break down the right hand side, thanks to a pass of spectacular beauty and deceit, and Clancy called a knock on when Italy were gong to recycle the ball with a realistic chance of a try coming. Clancy got a word from Nigel Owens and went over and asked him if there was indeed an Italy knock on. Owens said ‘I saw no knock on by blue; it was a white hand in there, definitely no knock on by blue’. Clancy said, ‘well, I’m going to still go with a blue knock on’.

So let’s examine that. He asked his touch judge Owens what happened, he then overrules Nigel Owens (the best referee in the world by a country mile) and says he’s going to give the knock on against Italy anyway. The very least Italy should have got was an attacking scrum on the England five metre line as Clancy was in error, but instead he gave England a way out and they went in at half time well ahead. Truly shocking stuff that doesn’t need any more embellishment.

For the remainder of the game Italy looked like drawing this game despite the fact their scrum was mullering England’s for the entire second half and Clancy gave them only one scrum penalty.

There was one further key moment that kept the England win on the right track. Italy had just scored a try and were by far the better team, and the score was a tantalizing 15-11 to England. This wasn’t in the script at all. So, on 60 minutes and 30 seconds on the match clock (you won’t see any of this stuff on the ‘highlights’), the Italian number 18 Cittadini tackles Tom Youngs just outside his 22. He then rolls to the right, about a metre from the ruck, FAR away from the the ruck ball, into Dan Cole’s leg. He has rolled but he can go no further, and he is not affecting play in any way. Yet Clancy, after he rolls away, shouts ‘Roll away, Advantage!’ England get the penalty, and the gap is back to seven points, and the potential for an Italian win is gone. Watch it back yourself on the numerous replays on Setanta and other channels during the week, it’s very clearly wrong. The bizarre discussion with Owens in the first half, the non-decisions for the Italian scrum in the second half and that penalty on 60 minutes 30 seconds that snuffed out Italian hopes of a win. The decision was wrong – another wrong and hasty decision at another crucial time in a game for a big side.

Clown show

This clown show continued right through all three of the weekend’s games. Now that the six Nations company have the beautiful marquee fixture next week (all those weird decisions seem to have worked out so nicely for them, they should probably buy some lotto tickets) I’d imagine it will all return to normal next week, as no more luck will be necessary. And then most of the rugby watching world will forget the puppet show pantomime the Six Nations has become, and we’ll do it all over again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.

It happened in the Heineken cup this year too. When the biggest market (England) threatened to pull out and go with the BT cup, we managed to get three teams into the quarters for the first time in years. Try and get the highlights of Pascale Gauzere refereeing Munster v Saracens if you need any more info – Munster were taken to the cleaners by him all game (in fairness, we expected it to happen), Sarries were marched up the field in the final three minutes with two shocker penalties to get a bonus point. Crisis averted, three teams in the quarters, no one is talking about leaving the Heineken cup now are they? The big money gravy train rolls on. Watch Keith Earls get wrongly penalised here, and then watch Gauzere say ‘It’s a maul’, and immediately give a Saracens penalty when it had collapsed before he had called maul. This had gone on for the previous 75 minutes but Gauzere had to award these late and crazy penalties after ‘the man who doesn’t miss’ Owen Farrel had missed six + penalties. This bullshit we’re talking about here doesn’t just happen in the Six nations you know! Anyway, it all ended lovely; the richest club in English rugby secured a losing bonus point from the ensuing kick at goal, and they have a home quarter final now as a result of it. The BT what?

Will the farce ever stop?

So what can we do? Nothing really, unless you’re like the people who laughed their heads off during the England/France game – sometime rugby watchers who really think it’s one big sham and won’t bring their kids into the game. Personally I once again feel sorry for the thousands who paid so much money to watch these games (my heart really goes out to Welsh and Scottish fans who had to sit through that tripe with Joubert). But it also goes out to Keith Earls, the ballsy Italians, all of the professional players who dedicate their lives to get a fair crack of the whip, the backroom staffs, the managers, the caterers etc. who all work towards one goal – helping their team to compete and win, only to have it all count for nothing when clear agendas are at work making a mockery of the notion of a fair game, with rules being blatantly ignored.

They (who? I don’t know) surely have to start putting some changes in place at this point, and let’s start talking about referee appointments and who exactly chooses them for which games- if I saw any effort I would start to regain some notion that rugby is no longer only about making money at the expense of fairness, transparency, and honesty. Let’s make the TMO question one questions – “I’m not sure, tell me what happened”. When a linesman is consulted, the ref should have to accept their opinion if they have one. Right now, i’m just about sick of the week in-week out farce, and i’m definitely not the only one.

What you have across the board now is a multi billion euro rugby ‘industry’, with widespread bias, that for the most part will somehow (luck…) get the results it needs to keep making as much money as possible and enhance it’s own prestige in the short term. People are not stupid, and they can all see what is going on. Perhaps the most telling remark was from a football-fan friend who I called on Sunday for a pint to watch the England game. His joking response? “Sure that’s all fixed isn’t it?”.

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Scotland v Wales – six nations rugby betting 2013

Scotland v Wales- six nations rugby betting preview & tips

six nations rugby betting tips picks odds
230pm GMT, Saturday Mar 9th 2013, BBC television.

Six Nations Rugby Odds current best – Scotland +5 evs in Bet365, Wales -4 10/11 in Sportingbet

Edinburgh Weather No rain, but Brass-monkeys all the same (-4C)

If you had bumped yourself into a coma after watching the opening weekend of this year’s Six Nations, only to wake up now and see both of these sides still challenging for the title, you’d be forgiven for rolling over and demanding another jab in the bum from nurse Ratchett. It has been a weird tournament so far to say the least, and few players on either side would have forecasted two wins on the trot after that opening weekend of Scotland and Wales get smashed.

The Welsh trajectory

Wales stumbled into this tournament off the back of a near record number of losses, and were comprehensively beaten by Ireland on the opening weekend, whatever about the 8 points difference in the final scoreline. But all credit to them, they rolled with the punches on unsteady ground (literally) in Paris and grabbed that game by the balls when the French couldn’t. That game could have been very different had a simple pass gone to Benjamin Fall after about 20 minutes when France were on the Welsh five metre line. But the pass didn’t go as the ball carrier (Fofana?) opted to cut back inside, Wales defended, and for the rest of the game France couldn’t muster another decent attack. Credit has to go to Wales for ending the losing run they were on (and the associated psychological torment), by overcoming the French in Paris. It was a percentage squeeze game plan that worked, and they were due some luck after the rotten run they had been on.

Suddenly, no one could see them losing in Rome. Wales went there expecting to win and they did. However, the scars were still evident in the final 20 minutes as neutrals everywhere willed them to go and score more points and set up a decent finale with England on the final day of the tournament. The opportunities were there to score at least one more try but Wales weren’t interested/weren’t able to press it home and close further the points gap on England, and they were happy to sit on the lead they had – and who could blame them. There’s more to this than meets the eye methinks – Wales definitely weren’t panicking over the points difference with Scotland up next.

The Scottish trajectory

Scotland are far easier to sum up. They came into the tournament after an embarrassing Autumn, and then new coach Scott Johnson then embarrassed himself with his cheeky grin and ‘we’ll give you a surprise’ antics prior to the England game. The only surprise was that England were so poor they didn’t put 60 points on Scotland, and needed injury time to beat the 16 point handicap. Scotland backed off, fell off tackles/didn’t tackle/played with their tackle as England robots went through the motions and made gainline after gainline against a defence that itself was going through the motions.

Scotland were like the blow-up bumpers that bowling-alleys put down on ten pin bowling lanes for kids – England bounced slowly forward from side to side, and you always knew where the ball would eventually end up once they got rolling against the accommodating Scottish inflatables. (Henry Gondorff – Passionate trainspotter, and rugby poet)

The game against Italy was bizarre. Italy played all the ball, had all the brainfarts and a few Scotland lads proved they can run really fast in a straight line. That’s literally all I could take from that game.

Then came another tale of the unexpected v Ireland. If you had been shown the stats and had to guess the score you’d have said Ireland 30, Scotland 6. Ireland had 80% possession and lost 12-8. But even forgetting that, Ireland still lost even when Wayne Barnes handed them a mysterious golden ticket in injury time that they couldn’t make use of, awarding Ireland a penalty on a Scottish scrum on their own line in injury time – Wayne loves a bit of controversy.

This weekend

There’s been very little of note in the team news relative to recent weeks. Weir starts for Scotland ahead of Jackson and that brings a slightly better territorial boot into play. Wynn Jones will bring a bit of annoying dog as he makes his full comeback from injury and Warburton gets a start with Tipuric on the bench. I’m not a huge fan of Howley but I think this could be a nice touch; Warburton wants to play for the lions so will work his arse off to earn penalties in the first half on the ground; and Tipuric was a brilliant link-man off the bench against Ireland and can be again on Saturday (a possible Lions bolter himself at this point). Wales need to chase points, and Tipuric is ideal to bring in and help with scoring tries as things opens up.

As far as the set-piece goes, I don’t see much difference in the sides. The line out should be pretty even, and the scrum may be shaded by Wales, but that may be cancelled out by Paul James; It all depends if referee Craig Joubert was watching the Premiership last weekend, when James was given a particularly hard time by the ref against Gloucester. Joubert is a bit like Ron Burgundy – he’ll read whatever you put on the teleprompter – so it all depends on what magical mind fairies are pulling his strings this time. Who’s side will he be on this week? Who knows. I think this game is going to come down to sheer quality and hunger and I think Wales have that battle well won in almost every position bar scrumhalf, and particularly from 10 to 15.

Key stats

One key set of stats that jumped out at me in trying to figure out this game was the difference in the tackling stats for both teams.

[table id=33 /]

As you can see, Scotland have made a hundred or so more tackles than Wales, in games that were arguably easier compared to the games Wales have played. Also, there’s a huge gulf in the amount of tackles both sides have missed, with Scotland having missed nearly double the men Wales have. When you correlate the propensity for Scotland to miss tackles and the fact that they will get tired in this game owing to their tackle profile (even with the two weeks off) it doesn’t take a genius to assume Wales will find big holes to exploit.

Six nations Betting Verdict;

Take the -4 available in Sportingbet (everyone else is -5 bar Bluesquare who are also -4). Scotland have been very lucky so far that Luke Marshall, Keith Earls, and Luciano Orquera all forgot how to pass in Edinburgh. Scotland will definitely tire and Wales have all the motivation – Scotland have already exceeded expectations and Wales should get scores. This is one of those rare occasions in the Six Nations when a team has to go for points and has the capability to do so; Wales can’t pull off their dream Cinderella story and ruin England’s chances of a Championship title unless they beat Scotland by a decent margin to maintain a realistic hope of overcoming the points deficit. If Wales run up a good score, all the pressure will be on England on a wet and dirty day in Twickenham on Sunday v Italy, and England haven’t seen much pressure recently. Wales hopped against France and scraped through, they skipped against Italy and consolidated, they’re definitely planning to jump against Scotland. There are few more powerful motivators for a Welshman than the chance of raining on an Englishman’s parade.

Try scorers side punts

– Ordinarily Tryscorers in these games are a bit of a lottery but Paddypower are refunding any losing tryscorer stakes back if a forward scores the first try. Wales look set up to maybe pummel with the forwards in the first half, and see what opens up in the second, so there’s a reasonable aspiration that you’ll at least get your money back here if something doesn’t work out for you. Alex Cuthbert blew two or three chances against Italy with poor handling and he looked livid with himself, despite getting in for a try. You can have no doubt he has been working on his handling for the past two weeks, and it should be dry on Saturday. Pasypower are biggest 17/2 for him to be first tryscorer this weekend and he is definitely most likely for me. For a smaller return, he’s 15/8 for anytime tryscorer which is not to be sniffed at either and might be the better option – he’ll be up against Visser a fair bit on Saturday for 80 minutes, and Visser is not the greatest defender (and neither is Cuthbert for that matter). The ideal scenario here then would be a forward to get the first try and for us to be sitting on a free bet for the remainder waiting on Cuthbert to gallop away.

Jonathan Davies is also biggest 14/1 in Paddypower for first try, and he got one against Italy too. Davies is usually there or thereabouts and it was down the centre that Ireland and Italy got plenty of change against Scotland.

Unusually, Paddypower have the biggest first tryscorer odds for these two along with the money back special, so I’ve stuck a small few quid on both to score first, and backed Cuthbert anytime. He’s unlikeley to be substituted, and when this game opens up he should get very close.

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Craig Joubert – England v France 2013

** The truth hurt it seems, The six nations have had the video removed from youtube that we used for our Craig Joubert comedy show post below. It was a sham game, handed to England, and a long litany of absolutely baffling decisions by Joubert that went far beyond anything seen before. That’s why they had the videos removed from Youtube. So our point is proven- something is most definitely not right here, and this isn’t the first game we’ve seen this kind of thing happen it happens in league games, and it happened in teh world cup final that Joubert refereed. All retails demain below, the times are still accurate if you have a recording of the match yourself on your digital box. RBS Six Nations didn’t want people seeing what we showed them.**

England beat France by 23-13 on Saturday in a crucial game for both sides. France were trying to end an unexpected losing streak, and England were trying to secure a championship. Both sets of players gave it everything they had, but the most important figure on the pitch was just not up to it. Craig Joubert not only let down the players (in particular the French players, as you will see below) – who dedicate their lives to this game, but also rugby fans around the world, and particularly the travelling French fans.

It has always amazed me personally how soccer referees can have every minutiae of their working performances examined in detail by newspapers (and rightly so), but rugby referees seem to get a total carte-blanche to make an astounding number of wrong calls in a match of this importance. Why is it that we frequently read nothing from most major Journos about the referees, especially after games where even novices to the game can see something is not quite right? Referees are the most important people on the field, bar none. Nothing can exist without them. Therefore surely it isn’t right that their performances are rarely if ever even critiqued? This self-imposed Omerta about rugby referees is damaging the game – there were 30 people in the pub beside me on Saturday laughing their heads off when Joubert awarded England a penalty when Ashton was holding onto the ball on 78 minutes (last clip below). It has become farce. If any other profession in the world performed as bad as some referees do, there would be hell to pay. Have the media and rugby journalists in general simply acquiesced into a zombie-like acceptance that nothing can be done about games where bizarre decision after bizarre decision is made against one side, the accumulation of which goes beyond understandable error to the realm of gross incompetence? Is that why noone asks questions?

We all have bad days, but Saturday was a truly gobsmacking ‘performance’ from Craig Joubert. And once again it was French rugby that bore the brunt of his baffling decision making, after the widely criticised officiating mess he presided over in the 2011 world cup.

As mentioned above, referees are only human, and with so much going on in a rugby match it is understandable that they can have super-bad days from time to time. Bad days that are usually bad for both sides for the most part. Saturday however, was a totally different story; where everything went against France, some of it beyond explanation. There are always bad calls in games, but there were just too many for it to be acceptable and simply brushed over here. French rugby deserves an apology from the IRB. And travelling French fans deserve their ticket price to be refunded. Sadly, the millions of us who watched this farce can’t get those hours of our lives back.

It is very easy to forget games like this, or over react, so we went back through the game to see if we were imagining things, or if the refereeing really was that bad. And it was. Below is how we saw it.

The incident notes below are accompanied by video where the erroneous (in our opinion) decision took place. Watch the incident referred to, then move on to the next one. And be sure to pause the clip before moving on to the next one. In the interest of brevity we’ve tried to keep the list to only the most obvious. All times are matchclock time

Important note – if you need to rewatch any of the below clips again, the fastest way is to just refresh your entire browser and hit play again rather than fiddle with the time on the videos (as the entire match recording is quite long and it’s difficult to get back to the clip start sometimes)

Joubert error v France 1
0 minutes, 38 seconds – the sad overture for the coming clown show – Maestri (french number 5) rucks through for France, the England pillar defender gives way so Maestri hits the ground, Maestri attempts to roll away IMMEDIATELY, doesn’t touch the ball, yet Joubert blows the penalty England. The ball was ALWAYS available. Wrong.

Joubert error v France 2
12 mins 34 seconds
Joubert penalises France for early engagement when it is CLEARLY England who engage early. Brian Moore the BBC commentator agrees on the commentary, and then is left speechless as he tries to explain it – understandably. Prior to this France’s scrum was dominant.

Joubert error v France 3
23 mins 25 seconds
Joubert is staring straight at Owen Farrell as he elbows Parra in the face. Sure it’s missable by the ref, unless you’re looking DIRECTLY at it, as Joubert appears to be (Yes we can’t see his face, but it’s seems he’s watching Farrell hit Parra not the play 2 yards to the right. Why didn’t Joubert blow it? He’s right there?

Joubert error v France 4
25 mins 50 seconds. Picamoles is penalised despite legitimately challenging for the ball – he released and re-engaged, England had no support, England were holding on, and Joubert is standing right there, and penalises France. You can see on a normal day how this could be given in error (even though Joubert is right there 2 yards away) but these are really stacking up now. Picamoles is furious as the play moves away to the right.

Other first half odd calls
24;11 ben Youngs england knock on at 2411 in front of Joubert, not given
24;40 Mas penalised for Not rolling away while Robshaw held his legs
33:20 Mas penalised again for not rolling away, when the ball was nowhere near him, that’s why he didn’t roll away. You see that as robshaw takes the ball out after the whistle is blown. Joubert right there on hand again.

The Second half (it got worse)

Joubert error v France 5
44 mins 55 seconds, Penalty v Nicolas mas for sealing off; it was never a penalty, he was rucking clearly and then naturally went over. Relieves french pressure, and the speed of Joubert’s whistle is notable. There’s a slow-mo replay a few seconds into the clip.

Joubert error v France 6
46 mins 35 seconds, France done for maul collapsing, but they never dragged it down and Joubert standing there right looking right at it. Nyanga is number six just before pen is awarded, and he doesn’t drag it down. The maul continues and hits Dusatoir, and the England lads hit the deck. You can see why this was given but again, it’s another marginal call against France. England get the penalty, and score to make it 12-10.

Joubert error v France 7
52 mins 45 seconds
Clearly Dan Cole is infringing in the scrum ( as he did quite a bit in this game), yet linesman staring right at it does nothing and we have a reset. France are then Penalised for going early in the reset. Off the ensuing up and under England score the match winning try.

Joubert error v France 8
53 mins 43 seconds– The Decisive score that wins England the game. First, there’s an English knock on as the ball comes down, yet Joubert shouts ‘back off blue’ – for me this is 95% an England knock on from how the ball reacts, and should now be ‘advantage France’. He’s standing right there. On a normal day you’d accept the mistake but not with all that has preceeded this.

Second, Barritt (12) kicks the ball into Vunipola who is in front of him, and then Tuilagi scores a try. Even though Vunipola is accidentally offside, he is still offside and this is a penalty to France. That Joubert doesn’t even check it with the TMO is another huge red flag for me and I can’t believe that with the unorthodox nature of the lead up he doesn’t use his powers to go to the TMO. Why didn’t he go to the TMO? He was right up with the play looking right at Barritt kick the ball into Vunipola? Is Joubert the referee or is he a spectator? The second clip and the slow-mo demonstrates the offside clearly and where Joubert was – i.e., right there, getting it wrong. At this point the French players have given up with the incessant calls going against them. Two big mistakes, England try, France wronged again by Joubert.

Joubert error v France 9
57 mins 48 seconds – Penalty England………. given against Fofana for not rolling away, but Michalak had his hands on the ball on the england player on the ground holding on. Fofana with three bodies on him made the effort to get out of the way, and not interfering with ball placement. Joubert saw the whole thing ONCE AGAIN with a clear view on the ball side, yet still makes the wrong decision. Wondering why yet? me too. The ball was still there for Ben Youngs to take it. Yet Youngs, not for the first time just looks at Joubert and stands off the ruck and gets a penalty – you may have noticed that in previous clips. He’s right to do it, if Joubert is willing to keep penalising France. And by-jove, willing he is!

Joubert error v France 10
62mins 20 seconds- Vunipola on his ten metre line off his feet grabs french ball; a clear penalty,and Joubert is right there AGAIN. The linesman contacts Joubert, and Joubert is in clear contact with him as his hand is to his earpiece for at least five seconds. The IMMEDIATE call should have been ‘advantage France’ as play continued. However, Joubert slowly lowers his hand from his ear and acts like nothing happened. Watch him – he just slowly muddles along and ignores the blatant infringment that should have been a kickable penalty for France, one that he more than likely saw, and had been informed about by the linesman over the earpiece. But Joubert was NOT INTERESTED – despite the crowd, the French players up in arms when it happened, the contact from the linesman, and his own eyes looking at what happened. I am 100% sure that the linesman here would NOT have contacted Joubert unless certain there was a penalty infringment. Advantage never comes. Another damning indictment of Joubert – he didn’t even consult with his linesman after play broke down (which you see EVERY week in the TOP 14, Rabo Pro12, and Aviva Premiership). Any ideas? Answers on a postcard please.

Later on, at 68 mins 40 seconds on the commentary, the Scottish commentator comes on, highlights the incident, and shows it as a clear yellow card for Vunipola. So If Joubert knew about it via his earpiece, (and John Lacey is a forthright man, who was running that line at the time, and who would have been very clear about what happened) why didn’t Joubert at least call French advantage? We have entered unknown territory….oh wait, I just remembered the world cup final. Nevermind.

Joubert error v France 11
71 mins 46 seconds – Joubert penalises the French thirteen (Bastaureaud) for not rolling away in front of the French posts. When in fact, he was nowhere near the ball after the tackle after making every conceivable effort to move out of the way, and Freddie Michalak had challenged for the ball fairly to win it on his feet, along with Classens. French players walk away shaking their heads totally perplexed. With the time on the clock this easy penalty meant England were 7 points ahead and almost home. Joubert with another huge decision based on nothing, against France.

Joubert error v France 12 – this one had us laughing in the pub like a clown’s encore at the circus, it was so bizarre, thanks for the laugh Craig.
75mins 19 seconds- Fritz tackles Ashton, then CLEARLY disengages from the tackle as both hands go on the ground so he can get back on this feet. He then, on his feet, engages Ashton on the ground who is holding on with no support, and Ashton won’t let go of the ball. Ashton stares at Joubert, Joubert awards England a penalty, when it should clearly have gone the other way. In the act of the tackle Florian Fritz is looking up at Joubert wondering if he has swallowed his whistle, or if it’s broken, you can SEE the lack of understanding on his face ” eh hello, blow your f*cking whistle you twit?!”. Then he blows for England. Easy penalty, game secured for England with three minutes to go; no chance the French can come back now.

The laughter had died down just in time for us to hear John Inverdale of the BBC say ” I think it’s because their stamina goes, so does their discipline”. No sir, you’re wrong, as much as your voice is agreeable, you haven’t a clue what you’re on about. Much like Mr. Joubert. Brian Moore, whose normally up front and genuine commentary I often enjoy was also conspicuous by his absence throughout the game in giving honest appraisals of the penalties England were awarded. If it wasn’t for the Scottish interdiction at crucial times I’d have lost faith entirely in the BBC by now.

France lost this game for three reasons – England played well, Saint Andre took off Parra (Trin-Duc had to go off as he had a knock ten minutes previously and looked out of it), and Craig Joubert reffed France off the park for reasons only he knows. We (the fans, who make it all possible) were treated with utter contempt. This wasn’t a rugby match. It was a progression to a home win.

In every game of rugby, there are bad decisions, and home teams often get a few hometown calls – it is human nature and empirical studies have demonstrated the psychological refereeing fact that it happens in all professional sports – it is just part of the game. But when does it all become too much? If there’s a level above Joubert’s performance against France I’m not sure I want to know. How many more games will Joubert get to ruin now as the Chariot steamrolls any hope of balanced and reflective discourse on what was akin to the Battle of Carthage being re-enacted in the Twickenham-Collesseum (France being the Carthaginians and England being the victorious Romans)? Maybe he’s just bad at his job, in which case surely he needs to be sent back to school by his employers.

You really have to wonder about the possibility that, had Sergio Parrisse not recently been banned for speaking out of turn to a referee, would the French players have held their tongues so admirably?

England have learned nothing here, and they’ve had three games that have fallen very nicely for them. As a fan, I think that while England have played well, Lancaster has been incredibly lucky this tournament with a Scotland side that rolled over to have it’s belly scratched, an Irish side that lost it’s leader in Sexton that had no replacement, and a French side that were hobbled by Craig Joubert.

This guy (Joubert) has not only ruined this game for France, but more importantly he took the world cup title from them and handed it to New Zealand, such was the magnitude of his incompetence/call-it-whatever-you-want in that game. How many more chances is he going to get? How many more times will we have to sit through Brian Moore and Inverdale ignoring the blatantly obvious?! Are they afraid England’s public school boys will burn them out of Studio five if they utter one word to question an England side’s good fortune?

Enough is enough, that’s twice now this has happened. Let’s stop the pussy-footing around the subject of officials finally – he’s a rubbish referee that has been the centre and cause of two of the most inept and baffling refereeing performances in recent memory. Why is he still getting these big games for the big home unions?? How is he still getting big games when he made a mockery of the biggest game in world rugby – the world cup final? Why are those people in charge still happy with him after that performance? Why are they happy to let him ref a home game for them?? Did they watch the World Cup final? Do they wheel him out like Hannibal Lecter every now and again to keep us on our toes? This game was an international farce when it should have been a cracker. Whoever picks the refs for these games is probably more to blame. I’m not sure of the exact make-up of selection panels but serious questions have to be asked.


Six nations Betting – England v France

Six nations Betting tips

Six nations Betting – England v France Preview, BBC 5pm Saturday 23/2/2013

We’ve been searching for final reasons to back England to win by 1-12 points all week but Stuart Lancaster may have blown that for us with his selections today. More on that below; first I think it’s important to acknowledge that we’ve been burned two weeks in a row backing England’s opposition on the plus handicap (Scotland +16, and Ireland +1). But there were large mitigating factors in both bets losing; Ireland lost all shape and direction when Sexton (Ireland’s only functioning number ten) went off injured early; and it took an injury time try for England to blow the +16 bet against Scotland. After much deliberation I can’t help feel this England side are still being given a bit too much respect and admiration by the bookies.

France name a much changed side, most notably involving players in their correct positions. Amazingly, Wesley Fofana, possibly the best inside centre in world rugby right now, is actually playing at inside centre! Well done Monsieur Saint Andre! Now take a bow. You meddling berk.

Aside from that, it all looks tres magnifique. The on-form Bastauread will seriously challenge Tuilagi (who had a very poor losing game against Quins last week) and Barritt alongside with Fofana. Parra the general is back at nine inside a quick-thinking ten in Trin Duc – a man will actually care about what happens and also has fitness; Au-revoir Freddie Michalak – how on earth did you get back in anyway?! Parra will slow things down and make the decisions Machenaud just wasn’t executing right. The backrow has a great balance to it in Picamoles, Dusatoir and Nyanga, who is having something of a renaissance of late.

England on the other hand look to have opened the door somewhat for France by selecting Hartley and Lawes to start. It’s one decision I just can’t get my head around and it may well have a huge bearing on this game. You only have to go back to last week’s premiership game between Northampton and Worcester for your first warning light – both players were yellow carded for foul play. In general they don’t add much to any side’s structure beyond the rolling maul, and they’re always prone to losing the head or doing something stupid or dirty, and generally put their team in the shit. They’ve been part of a Northampton side that have done very little in recent years and one that, on current form, won’t get into the Premiership playoffs. I can’t work out why lucky-Lancaster is picking them up against an experienced, determined, and hard French pack that won’t be phased by their antics in the slightest.

Furthermore, Lawes has been put in at six for a reason – to throw himself and his shoulders into tackles at France’s ball carriers, and to help in the lineout. This may well backfire on England as initially conditions were expected to be wet but the forecast has since been changed to cold and dry. If the weather (met office weather here) does indeed turn out dry, suddenly you’ve got one big slow yellow-card-loving liability at six whose potential positive impact has been drastically reduced.

And while England will still kick a lot from their big boots in the backline, once it’s dry France will run alot of ball back into places where Scotland found plenty of holes against England’s defence (finding opportunities that they just couldn’t finish off). Conditions will also be good for quick lineouts to negate England’s lineout jumpers – watch out for TrinDuc here – he’s done it a few times for Montpellier this season to create tries.

But the game won’t revolve around Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley even if they do get yellow cards (no six nations betting odds for Sin-binning are available at time of writing and I’d imagine that’s largely to do with their inclusion in the starting lineup). England have a good side out, and they still have four big boots in Goode, Brown, Farrell and Youngs that will kick everything and try to use the power game that worked against Ireland in the rain, and against a Scotland side that just didn’t look bothered.

But France have the strong and talented individuals who can challenge England’s power, and exploit the holes Scotland couldn’t in the dry. In searching for a close comparison to this game I can’t help but come back to Leicester v Toulouse in the Heineken cup last month. There are a lot of similarities – ten players from both sides that day play on Saturday. It was freezing cold too. Toulouse missed seven kicks (i.e. all of them) in that game and had a try disallowed, and despite dominating Leicester (particularly the Toulouse backrow and Huget, who all start here) they lost the game. England have the better team right now and France have the better individuals. They have to start playing as a team some time though.

The only question is will France be up for it? And I think they will. I’m putting my head on the chopping block here but this England side still haven’t done anything of real substance to make me want to take them on a seven point handicap against this French side. Rugby is often characterised by that raw human motivator revenge, but even more-so this season, particularly in Europe. Toulouse were knocked out of their love affair with the Heineken cup by Leicester. France were beaten at home last year in Paris by most of this English side. They’ve had two losses on the bounce against inferior opposition and there’s even more motivation there for them to end the rot and do to England what they did unto them last year. Plus, they have a Castres power house Samson back in the second row! (hence the cover image)…..

Overall I have both sides pretty even here, with France having more experience, England having a slightly better lineout and France a better scrum. England are due a speed-bump on the remarkably smooth road they’ve been on recently and France are just the team to give it to them. I’m putting myself up to be hung here, but I think France will win this game through hunger, revenge, and underdog status (not forgetting the class they have on the park). And crucially, Parra will take his points just as well as Farrell has done. And if the pressure comes on I’d fancy it to be Farrell who crumbles first and not Napoleon.

While we think France will win, we’ve not backed them on the outright as England are a good side and will make this a tight game, and anything can happen. But the Plus 8 available on the handicap at 10/11 is more than enough to get us interested. Third time lucky for the plus cap versus England!

England v France Betting verdict; France +8 10/11 in bet365 (+7 most other places)

Side bets – A couple of big prices are interesting

No Tryscorer

No tryscorer is biggest 18/1 in Coral, and in a tight cold game where the home side will be preoccupied with the win and taking their points, 18/1 doesn’t look half bad. With Parra back, France will kick every penalty opportunity they get too.

Half time/fulltime

England Half time/France full time is a whopping 12/1 in Skybet (as low as 9/1 elsewhere). In an expected tight game where France have most of the motivation and England have the home advantage, this is well worth a small wager. You can get a free tenner no deposit bet to throw on this at Skybet here.

France: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Antoine Claassen, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Florian Fritz.

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

Ireland v England Rugby Betting – Six Nations

Ireland v England six nations betting

I’ve had a long deep think about the weekend’s rugby this morning on very little sleep, in particular Ireland v England on Sunday. It’s rare enough for me that I doubt my mind on an international bet (whether ultimately wrong or right) but this week I’ve endured an assault on my self-belief – much more violent than the many last minute suck-outs of recent months.

I embarked on this week’s journey thinking that Ireland were a great bet after their purposeful demolition of Wales, and Scotland’s roll-over-and-get-tickled job against England. So I figured I’d hang around for the Ireland -2 to contract some. Sure enough the price duly contracted, with the weight of the patriotic-punting English pound sending English bookies to fumbling in their greasy tills, adding the half pound to the pound of flesh England are apparently going looking for this Sunday. By Thursday, most turf accountants had the game a dead heat, no handicap, evens for the win either way. Surely now was the time to wade in with a lump the size of Hartley’s rump. But I hesitated.

The torture had begun long before that. Every paper this week in England has been extolling the virtues of this ‘humble’ English set-up. Gone is the arrogance of times past it seems; of filming grand slam winning ads, and printing grand slam winning t-shirts long before the Goose has even been sighted. Everywhere I turned they fancied England, subtly for the most part, but the message was clear – the chariot is back on the go forward and bollox if Ireland are going to stop it.

I found some welcome relief from my internal twitching watching the Rugby club on Sky on Thursday night, with Dowie Morris and Stuart Barnes notably avoiding eye contact with the camera whenever they mentioned an English box-ticker. Will Greenwood was another man staring at the shine on his shoes whenever he mentioned how good England’s chances were. I felt blood returning to my cold dead hands! ‘These lads are dodging questions’ I whispered conspiratorially to the neutered cat beside me. Self belief was returning. When Barnes said that ‘England have won seven out of seven of their last Sunday starts’ as justification for why England would win I punched the air and scared the shit out of the pussy beside me. I was finally being vindicated (in my own mind). I decided to wait for the Irish papers on Saturday morning before making my move.

They didn’t make things as easy as I expected. Matt Williams, who in my mind is the best rugby pundit out there bar none, is making out like England are a superhuman force requiring everything Ireland can give for a win in today’s Irish times. Gerry Thornley is artfully dodging the real beef while simultaneously pissing in our pockets and telling us it’s raining. After that I realised I was on my own and I’d had enough, and I decided against reading George Hook in the Independent as I’m all stocked up for toilet paper in the caravan.

So for an half an hour I sat and stared out the window of a greasy spoon, over a half eaten fry-up with rashers with that weird white stuff on them lying mostly untouched on the plate. Are England really that good? Am I wrong in my contention that this Ireland team has the bating of them in every position? Am I wrong that England have done nothing since last March to justify the optimism they travel with?

I finally realised I still believed I was right. As I went through each matchup in my head I decided I was sticking to my green-tinted guns. Let me preface this by saying there’s no doubt this England side has a big future ahead of it. Right, with that out of the way, Ireland will beat England on Sunday for the following reasons;

Experience and non-experience.

Ireland have more than double the international caps of England and the average Irish age is 28 tomorrow – prime-time in most sportsmen’s careers – compared to 24 for England. This Ireland side has a spine to it that has seen it all, and they fear no English side having generally wiped the floor with them the past several years in the Heineken cup, and the majority of years internationally. England were blown away by South Africa away from home in the summer and had no answer to a quick tempo, accurate game-plan. They beat a sick New Zealand side and suddenly the world is their lobster?

I’m just not buying it Arthur, I’m sorry.

Missing men

The last time England did anything of note away from home in the past 18 months was a win in Paris in last year’s 6 nations (that almost wasn’t but for a Trin Duc Duck-drop that wobbled under the bar in the final minute). Think back to that game and what was notable – three breaks, three tries, and game won. Who were the three men that did it? Ben Morgan (break from half way to set up the second try). Tom Croft – skinned Rougerie and another slack jawed Frenchy to take the lead to nine with nine minutes to go. And Manu Tuilagi, who finished off a turnover in the opening quarter, running from half way with a double fend to touchdown in the corner and set the tone for the rest of the game.Check it all here if you don’t believe me.

All three of them are missing this weekend – where’s the pace in England’s backkrow this time round to cope with Heaslip, O’Mahony and O’Brien with the green madness fuelling them? Tuilagi is the big one for England though, and springing him from the bench won’t be good enough.

Tuilagi was everywhere in that French game. He was everywhere against New Zealand (England wouldn’t have won without him, of that I’m sure). Without him this season Leicester have been like Lennie Small missing George Milton in ‘Of mice and men’ – a big strong simple animal without their leash. He’s that important. Forget last week’s game against Scotland – England could have put Joanna Lumley at inside centre and they still would have beaten Scotland, who simply weren’t interested. As far as I’m concerned Lancaster is playing politics a bit with his selection here. With the win against New Zealand, he has maybe three years of goodwill ahead of him (ok, exaggerating slightly, but you get my meaning). So by leaving 12trees in this week and not changing a winning team, he’s still pretty untouchable if they lose. Whereas if he plays Tuilagi and they lose, it’s his fault. There’s a long term plan for this England side and it may be served well in the long term by his team selection tomorrow. However, putting an inside centre at outside centre (Barritt) and a likeable guy with one cap up against the longest serving centre partnership in international rugby (who are both in great form) doesn’t seem like smart business to me.

The Irish.

Finally, the favourites in my mind. This is a great Irish side that has underachieved, but is now on a decent run of form, with a huge win against the champs in Wales and a hiding given to Argentina in the autumn. No one is in bad form for them, and aside from maybe wedging Launchbury in for McCarthy (who has done nothing wrong), I couldn’t see Kidney taking anyone else from this English side ahead of their Irish counterpart if he had to pick 15 from 30. The scrums look equal; the lineout looks equal, and Ireland have the better halves and better ball players and are more likely to score tries (especially with the Sarascenic creative roadblocks Barritt and Farrell running things – and that’s backed up statistically too). As long as Ireland keep the discipline as good as last week they should be golden. And even if they don’t, Farrell is due to have the yips in a big game soon ; for all the slobbering lazy praise he’s been getting this week (merited for now, admittedly), people forget that he couldn’t kick or pass a ball from May to October last year in truly atrocious form.

Ireland are also seasoned nicely after last week’s run through the mill, while England on the other hand had it all their own way – Ben Youngs in particular had minutes to get passes away, such was the passivity of the Scottish defense. Ireland have revenge from last year’s hiding away from home, and importantly, they’re at home. Matt Williams made out that England are a crowd of Martin Johnson’s on a crusade this weekend. I don’t think they are. They’re a group of young classy internationals with big futures ahead of them, about to learn one of the most valuable lessons of their young careers. Ireland to win, and to likely win well enough. Hands up who wants to see the Predator Donnacha Ryan and Peter O’Mahony for the anthems? John Hayes may have given Irishmen stirring tears, but these boys are proper crocodiles. The blood’s up.

Head over to the betting forum for the rest of this weekend’s rugby betting, man of the match picks, tryscorer jollies, or to tell us if you think we’re full of shite.

Scotland v Italy – six nations rugby betting

Scotland v Italy- six nations rugby betting preview & tips

230pm GMT, Saturday Feb 9th 2013, BBC television.

Six Nations Rugby Odds best – Scotland -3 10/1 in Bluesquare, Italy +5 10/11 in ladbrokes

Even the most passionate England supporter will admit that last weekend’s least entertaining game was the victory over Scotland. We’ve had plenty of discussion throughout the week in the forum, with many contending that England didn’t have to work hard for the win, while Scotland barely had any kind of defensive or attacking coherence. Italy on the other hand, rolled with the French punches and despite France blowing a few opportunities they were, for the most part, stifled by powerful Italian defending and some excellent attacking play. You just never felt Italy were out of it and the key turning point in that win came off a french mistake that could have saw them 12 points ahead – Machenaud made a break down the right and failed to recycle on the Italian five metre line, and about a minute later, Italy had broken and scored down the other end with some fantastic, patient play. Parisse made the break, recycled, Castrogiovanni straightened, Italy went wide and manufactured an overlap with the big lad Venditti, and then Orquera found a gap to put Castro in with a beautiful offload. It was a total team try, and teamwork was something Scotland were definitely lacking last weekend, going into everything in ones. Teams win rugby matches, not individuals.


When you look at the positional matchups, it’s hard to find anywhere Scotland are superior to Italy, except maybe at scrum half and in Visser on the wing (where Maclean’s excellent boot should make up for any attacking shortcomings). The Scottish back row is arguably their strongest asset with Beattie, Harley and Brown. But Zanni, Minto and Parisse are more than a match for them. Hamilton and Gray fell off tackles last week in the second row (particularly Hamilton, who offered nothing at all last week but granny-tackling, and why Kellock isn’t starting is a mystery), and the front row won’t get superiority over their Italian counterparts. Italy are superior at ten and that could be the winning of the game. More on that below.

Head to head Stats

17 Mar 2012 Italy 13 – 6 Scotland
20 Aug 2011 Scotland 23 – 12 Italy

19 Mar 2011 Scotland 21 – 8 Italy

27 Feb 2010 Italy 16 – 12 Scotland

28 Feb 2009 Scotland 26 – 6 Italy

15 Mar 2008 Italy 23 – 20 Scotland

29 Sep 2007 Scotland 18 – 16 Italy

24 Feb 2007 Scotland 17 – 37 Italy

18 Mar 2006 Italy 10 – 13 Scotland

As you can see Scotland have beaten their current handicap of -5 in the past two years at home to Italy, while two years previous to that Italy came in on this handicap. Games between these two teams are always close and Italy are no doubt the form side of the two coming into this game after last weekend. They’ve also beaten Scotland for the past three years in a row at home so all they need is some away-day confidence.

More interesting head to stats however, are to be found in the Rabo Pro12 games between the two countries this season. Both Italy and Scotland both have two professional sides where they draw the bulk of their players from, so we feel this is a decent indicator of form. Treviso have picked up an away win in Edinburgh and without-a-win-all-season Zebre came within a late score of beating Glasgow recently in Glasgow, losing by three points. Glasgow have beaten both sides convincingly this season but the point here is that these Rabo Pro12 Italian players will have no fear of playing away in Scotland, and will be buoyed by their recent performances here. The French based Italian players won’t have any fear either.

The winning and the losing

There’s one massive weakness in this Scotland side (aside from the inability to contest at the breakdown, the passive defence, and the lack of passers at 13 and 15), and that’s Jackson at ten. He not only offered very little in attack, but he was also a massive liability defensively and Italy will target him in the same way England did. We have nothing personal against Jackson, but facts are facts, and maybe he just isn’t ready yet and Duncan Weir should start.

In last week’s game against England he missed tackles in the lead up to all four of England’s tries.

In the four video’s below, when you hit play you’ll be taken to a Ruaridh Jackson missed tackle just prior to an England try. Watch the try, then pause move on to the next one;

Ashton breaks through Hogg and Jackson

Jackson falls off Morgan, and Twelvetrees scores

Jackson shoots out of the line to leave a huge gap for Youngs to go through – Parling scores other side

Jackson falls off Haskell prior to Danny Care’s injury time try (that ruined our handicap bet!

It’s important to note in Jackson’s favour that at least he was trying, whereas most of the rest of the Scotland team were simply sitting back waiting for the big lumps to run straght at (and over) them. He deserves some credit for that at least

So what does this all mean? (aside from England looking slightly flattered by last week’s result?) Well, if we can see it the above, then the Italian management can see it. They’ll have everyone running down Jackson and Laidlaw’s channel, and the more back rows that they bring in to cover, the more space it will leave for Italy in the line. Italy showed last week that they can exploit that space well against the French. Italy have Man of the Match from last week Orquera to pull the strings at fly-half, and it’s hard to see Scotland beating a handicap of 5 points with this big a problem in such a key position, along with half of their other players looking shagged come 60 minutes last week (watch the ‘scramble’ defence after Young’s break for Parling’s try in the third video).

Last week I had faith in new coaches Johnson and Ryan but their gameplan was so poor I have lost any belief in them. On top of that, they’ve started again with Jackson, Lamont at outside centre, and Hamilton and Ford in the pack, signalling that rubbish performances are accepted and in fact encouraged by the new management. Bring back Andy Robinson I say!

Main Bet

We’ve backed Italy with an extra bit of security on the ‘No draw Handicap’ at +5.5 in Ladbrokes (this is the biggest handicap start you can get on Italy at the moment, for a decent price (5/6) ). It’s quite simple really – Scotland have obvious weaknesses and few strengths, and Italy just beat France and can match Scotland everywhere. Italy are the better team, that much is clear (they’re three better in the IRB rankings compared to Scotland too). If Italy turn up with belief (which they surely will after last week), they should actually win this game let alone stay in the handicap. They have a real chance of getting three wins in the six nations for the first time ever, and they’ve said in the Italian paper ‘La Republica‘ midweek this week that the win against France means nothing unless they can back it up away against Scotland. That’s exactly what you want to hear before backing them.

Side bet– If you fancy a small bet with a big return, then Scotland half time/Italy full time at biggest 9/1 in Paddypower (as low as 7/1 elsewhere) appeals somewhat. This would have win in last week’s game against France, and Italy seem fitter and hungrier than Scotland. I’d expect this game to be tight enough by half time, and there’s a decent chance Scotland will get in ahead before being overtaken by Italy just as France were. 9/1 is good value for a small money roll of the dice. We’ll have our man of the match pick in the forum for you too on Friday evening.

Click Here to claim Dropkickrugby’s exclusive £/€250 Paddypower free bet offer

Don’t forget to head over and join to our rugby betting forum for all the latest six nations rugby betting tips, odds developments and banter.

Wales v Ireland – six nations rugby betting

Wales v Ireland – six nations rugby betting

1:30 pm, Feb 2nd 2013, BBC television.

Six Nations Rugby Odds- Wales -1 Sportingbet, Ireland +3 Stanjames

The good

As the month of January was born from the embers of another samey Christmas, Ireland with a three point start against Wales were really startingWales V Irealnd rugby Odds to look like the early punt of the opening six nations weekend (along with a small speculative punt on Wales to finish bottom on the ten year anniversary of same – details here). Wales were firmly rooted in a quagmire and approaching a record losing run, injuries were mounting, and Gatland was Howleying at the moon. It’s not often I look forward to a punt, but I was looking forward to this one. Alas, a couple of demons started to stir from the Irish camp and suddenly doubts began to creep in.

First of all, Tommy Bowe bent his knee sideways in a Heineken Cup game in mid-December and was confirmed as missing this year’s tournament. Who could forget Bowe’s try in Ireland’s ’09 grand slam year? I had had a huge punt on him to score anytime pre-game. It was a hugely successful tournament for betting, even better than the world cup two years ago – I must have backed Ireland to win every game by 1-12 points and won, and every England wager came off for me. I was on fire. When Tommy Bowe scored that try I was dancing around the pub half-cut with the lads singing “Tommy, Tommy Bowe” to the tune of Boney-M’s “Daddy, Daddy cool!” (go on, try it; you know you want to). When Bowe was confirmed out, my titanic-sized bet stake had already been shaved considerably by this chilling iceberg.

The bad

Lettuce consider what Bowe brings- pace, power, intelligent running, and an intimate knowledge of the Welsh lads from his time at the Ospreys, and also the Lions. I’m superstitious, as stupid as I know that is, and I immediately started looking for cracks in the Ireland hypothesis. Then the IRFU messing with the one and only Brian O’Driscoll over the Irish captaincy issue threw another spanner in the works. It all seemed too stupid to be unintentional. Why couldn’t they just come out and say “Brian will be leaving the shores of middle-earth soon, and he’ll be chaperoning our new cheery captain elect Jamie ‘Bilbo Baggins’ Heaslip through the same decisions that Chris Robshaw sadly had to navigate alone, with a brat like Farrell buzzing in his ear. But no. They had to turn it into an argument. Heaslip will be captain, BOD looks jilted, Kidney has been strangely quiet, and we haven’t been paying any attention to his other picks….

Then it hit me. The IRFU and Kidney for once seem to have a plan. All of the media attention and chat has been about Heaslip and BOD on the captaincy (non?) issue. There’s no pressure. Ireland are sure underdogs in their own minds, which is an essential ingredient for any possible Irish win. No one has been talking about whether Gilroy or Zebo are up to defending against ‘Manchild’ North or ‘Caution Wide-defensive-turn’ Cuthbert, or whether Trimble’s lousy form should still have had him starting on the wing. Ireland, for once look determined and set. It’s actually quite brilliant when you think about it. There has been absolutely nothing for Wales to get riled up about. Mike Phillips on interview yesterday looked non-plussed, with a searching look in his eyes. It was almost like he knew he was missing something, but hadn’t a clue what it was. No Gatland on the wind up, BOD saying he’s finished this summer, Ireland for once doing the SMART thing and talking everything down, and they’ve even managed to get the media in on the act.

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The ugly

The teams pick themselves at this point and we all know the ins and outs. Wales have massive quality throughout as we all know but half of them are in no kind of form. Wales have a new boy Coombs in at second row and the fact is Kohn from Quins would have been the better pick. Their lineout and general chances up against Ireland’s soaring Gaelic footballers will definitely suffer without the outstanding Lydiate and other quality like Ryan Jones. Shingler is lightweight in the back row but given space he’ll tear Ireland open. Biggar isn’t a playmaker but he can kick his goals. The Welsh scrum is a bit of a mess but they’ll get close to parity somehow. North and Cuthbert are out of form, and Cuthbert is a poor defender in my eyes, and Gilroy definitely has the beating of him. Evergreens Darcy (who is in brilliant form) and O’Driscoll know Roberts and Davies inside out and vice versa, the only difference here if both combinations perform is that BOD can truly magic something up out of nothing and that could be the difference. Wales have lost seven games in a row, and the last time they did that they were whitewashed in the six nations in 2003, losing every game and finishing with a wooden spoon.

Ireland on the other had are an inconsistent mess. Blessed with talent they’re the Amy Winehouse of rugby – no matter how much potential they have they just can’t believe in themselves enough to be happy. As evidenced above, they have to deliberately fool themselves into thinking one way, to cause them to think in another way that they think they need to think in. It’s fascinating, but a nightmare for a betting man. But facts are facts, if they perform; they have the beating of this Welsh side. It’s hard to be as angry with Ireland as it is with Wales because generally their players have been in form lately. They should have their own lineout their own way, and the question is how they use it after that. Wales will be expecting them to keep it tight but if they go to Gilroy and Zebo they can turn North and Cuthbert and conceiveably get the better of them. Scrums should be even enough too with O’Brien, O’Mahony and Heaslip holding the advantage braking off the back, versus Wales holding the advantage on the ground in Warburton. But good weather means the Irish trio can make hay high up at nipple level and feed the wide boys.

The difference?

For me this game comes down to three things- Roman Poite, the coaches, and Craig Gilroy. Poite is a bumbler but to give him some credit, he has been making a serious effort to let games flow recently when I’ve seen him. So we should see some scores. He’s also reffing the offside line better than he used to, which might be bad news for Wales with that rush defence that Howley and Edwards are definitely not marshalling as well as Gatland does. Wales are a tired team, and they’ll make mistakes in that department. I’m not sure about Edwards either lately; his defensive systems definitely haven’t been working since last June for Wales, and London Irish seem to have turned a corner the moment he left in the Premiership.

That leaves us the coaches. In the Kidney versus Howley game of tiddlywinks, I’d take Kidney every time to be smarter and to have plays up his sleeve. Howley’s record speaks for itself since June and the look in Mike Phillips’ eye yesterday tells me nothing has changed. Kidney will want to go out with a bang and in my eyes he’s leaving his job after this tournament whether Ireland do well or not. Along with O’Driscoll going, and the now-obvious smokescreen above, I now have no doubt in my mind that Ireland think they can win this championship and have proper confidence that they will do Wales this weekend. Howley on the other hand might be hearing the Wolves at the door, and picking Coombs won’t keep them away.

Lastly, Gilroy. Gilroy stepped, paused and pivoted like a ballerina against Argentina in the Autumn and in dry weather Ireland need to try to line him up against Cuthbert at every opportunity, with captain Heaslip doing his customary blocking to stop any supporting defenders. He’s the big unknown here and his defence needs to stand up, and Kidney will need to have worked on his kicking which has been absolutely atrocious at times. These teams know each other so well, it’s the smallest things that will make this match, and Gilroy’s ability to step around (and defend against) a lurching, runaway, Sandra-Bullock-piloted oil tanker (with speed) like Cuthbert may well be the winning and losing of this game. Gilroy mightn’t be the worst pick for anytime tryscorer either at biggest 10/3 in Ladbrokes. (as low as 9/4 elsewhere)


Ireland want revenge here, and they want a tournament win too. You’d have to be a hard-nosed Taff to not admit that Ireland have been slightly hard done by in the last two years in this fixture. Ireland have had their heart broken by Wales in massive games for the past few years and they simply have to be the more motivated side this weekend. Wales have so many injuries and new combinations, a coaching ticket that’s offering nothing, poor Heineken cup form and a horrible run of international losses behind them. I know, I know, they always seem to get it together for the national team, but they haven’t been to the ice-baths in Spala this year and if they’re too tired for that, they’re probably too tired to beat an Ireland side that want it so much more. Everything in life is cyclical and so is rugby; this time Ireland have youth and the unknown on their side.

Main Bet- Take Ireland +3 , only still available in Stanjames. Ireland were +3 almost everywhere last week but they’ve moved in to +2 so money has been coming for them. As above, these two teams know each other so well it’s hunger and the unknown that usually wins these tight games. Ireland should give us a win here, and may well challenge for a title with France and England at home, but take the +3 as this looks like a 50/50, and Ireland might get another Howler of a refereeing decision. Oh, Ye God’s Gerry!

Disagree/agree? Then tell us why! Head over to our rugby beting forum to read our legion of rugby betting experts for more value picks and considered opinion

Six Nations Rugby betting Special offers * updated rd 2

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 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

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.
six nations tips england v scotlandA 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.

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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
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.
Paddy Power rugby betting odds review

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.

Six Nations rugby betting – Wales

Six nations rugby betting – some early thoughts

**Feb 1st Pre tournament betting update – The below price has massively contracted from when we first put this up on December 4th after the Autumn internationals. It was originally 35/1, but has since contracted into 14/1 biggest, with most places offering 12 and 10/1. Not much value left really, but worth a read if you missed it.**

Along with six nations rugby betting, it’s safe to say that the start of 2003 was an odd year in general. Two tatooed lesbians became the first Russian act to ever top the UK Charts; George Bush and Dick Cheney somehow managed to lie to the entire world and start a war with Iraq; the concorde was finally sent to to the airplane bone yard, and Wales came last in the six nations.

Wales came into that six nations with a new coach in current NZ headman Steve Hansen, after a heavy loss the previous November at home to the All Blacks. Wales went on to finish bottom of the 2003 six nations table after losing all five games, the first game of which was away to Italy.

Wales six nations 2003 results
29 Mar 2003 France 33 – 5 Wales
22 Mar 2003 Wales 24 – 25 Ireland
08 Mar 2003 Scot 30 – 22 Wales
22 Feb 2003 Wales 9 – 26 England
15 Feb 2003 Italy 30 – 22 Wales

That corresponding Italian fixture is their third game around this year (first is at home to Ireland, second away at France). With Italy improving currently and with two games under their belt by the time they’ll meet Wales, they will undoubtedly be targeting them as their main prospect of a home scalp this season.

Interestingly, after the 2003 six nations the Welsh losing run continued on for a total of 11 games; the current losing run is at six.

Current Welsh six game losing streak

1 Dec 2012 Wales 12 – Australia 14
16 Nov 2012 Wales 19 – 26 Samoa
10 Nov 2012 Wales 12 – 26 Argentina
23 Jun 2012 Aus 20 – 19 Wales
16 Jun 2012 Aus 25 – 23 Wales
09 Jun 2012 Aus 27 – 19 Wales

So where are we going with all of this? We’re heading into longshot land and asking the question;

Can Wales finish bottom of the pile again?

Well, yes unfortunately. At a stretch of course, but it’s eminently possible. Not many commentators would have predicted the current state of Welsh international rugby. Even after the disastrous run continued many still couldn’t countenance the possibility of a loss to Samoa or Argentina. And when the six nations rolls around, many of the current circumstances will still be present. Gatland is going to be elsewhere in his mind watching potential Lions players, and Howley will still be a big part of the set up. Confidence will possibly be worsened with all of the Welsh teams in tough situations in the Heineken cup, and the main hope the Ospreys in a swamp of a group.

A few leaps in your imagination and the (seemingly remote) possibility of a Welsh wooden spoon becomes even more real. They meet an Irish team in better form in the first game of the championship. Statistically Ireland are due a win against Wales – they owe them one on thier own turf, and after the World cup beating Ireland should be well fired up for that game. After that it’s France away, and then Italy. By the time Wales pitch up in Rome it could be an eight game losing streak before facing down 15 hungry Italians with the championship long gone. That’s gonna be tough to get going for if they have two more losses under their belts.

So you see what we’re getting at here. If Ireland can do a number on Wales things mentally will become very difficult for them – even more difficult than they already are. Their final two games are away at Scotland and at home to England.

So to get to the point- Wales are 35/1 to finish bottom for six nations 2013 in PaddyPower (20/1 elsewhere, and as low as 12/1 in Sportingbet).

Even looking at other bookmakers prices you can see this is good value, but add in the recent losing results, the semi-absence of Gatland, and the way the fixtures fall…well, you get what we’re saying.

It should only be a small bet, but we’re already invested. You probably wouldn’t get more than 10/1 on an Italy/Ireland win double v Wales. If Wales lose both of those games, the current 35/1 will look monstrous and there’ll be opportunities to trade out. Indeed, with the way the fixtures lie, if Wales lose to Ireland the odds could drop as low as 10/1 or less depending on other results.

One to ponder!

2013 six nations fixtures – For reference

Sat 2nd Feb 13 13:30 Wales v Ireland Millennium Stadium
Sat 2nd Feb 13 16:00 England v Scotland Twickenham
Sun 3rd Feb 13 15:00 Italy v France Stadio Olimpico More
Sat 9th Feb 13 14:30 Scotland v Italy Murrayfield
Sat 9th Feb 13 17:00 France v Wales Stade de France
Sun 10th Feb 13 15:00 Ireland v England Aviva Stadium
Sat 23rd Feb 13 14:30 Italy v Wales Stadio Olimpico
Sat 23rd Feb 13 17:00 England v France Twickenham
Sun 24th Feb 13 14:00 Scotland v Ireland Murrayfield
Sat 9th Mar 13 14:30 Scotland v Wales Murrayfiel
Sat 9th Mar 13 17:00 Ireland v France Aviva Stadium
Sun 10th Mar 13 15:00 England v Italy Twickenham
Sat 16th Mar 13 14:30 Italy v Ireland Stadio Olimpico
Sat 16th Mar 13 17:00 Wales v England Millennium Stadium
Sat 16th Mar 13 20:00 France v Scotland Stade de France