|By Warwick Gastinger (Rugby World Cup 2015 DSCN4934) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
When the Six Nations rolls around everyone tends to talk about their fantasy teams, but there’s a lot to be said about having a good old fashioned punt on the famous tournament as well. So how are the odds stacking up after round one? Having survived a close away match against France that was always going to be a hurdle, Ireland’s Six Nations prospects improve dramatically. The betting favorite England thumped Italy 46-15, which was to be expected, and underdog Wales ran away from Scotland 34-7, which was much more surprising. In the next round, Ireland hosts Italy and England takes on the surprisingly lethal Wales. While the Round 5 Ireland/England match will likely decide the tournament, it could also be the case that surviving France and Wales is the real test, and Ireland are a step ahead of England on that front. Initially 13/8 to win the 2018 title, Ireland have shot up to 11/8 after the first round judging by the sportsbooks reviewed on my top sportsbooks. Of course outright winner is far from the only option for a decent bet...there are individual odds on matches and as last weekend’s first round showed, the results may be unexpected so the prices will be often be tempting. Then we have other categories like who is going to win the Grand Slam, of which ‘no winner’ is once again the favourite this year and the rest of the field has been reduced from six to three. But our favourite category here at Harpin Manor is definitely that of top try scorer. Going into the championship, Johnny May was considered most likely to win this honour with Ireland’s Keith Earls [pictured] not far behind, but we all know there are many twists and turns over the seven weeks and already we have seen Leigh Halfpenny, Anthony Watson and Sam Simmonds bag themselves a pair of five-pointers each so it’s anybody’s guess who will top the charts. All of this means a bit of strategic thinking can go a long way towards making this a very profitable tournament for a clever punter - who will you be betting on?