England are the new favourites for the 2013 Six Nations following their stunning victory over New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday. The manner in which Stuart Lancaster‘s team stormed to a shock 38-21 win over the All Blacks will have sent shockwaves across Europe but it wasn’t enough to earn them a place among the top seeds for the 2015 World Cup. The All Blacks, Australia, South Africa and France are ranked one to four with England in the second pot.
England’s unexpected triumph, their first over New Zealand since 2003, was a record and suggested that they can match the best when on-song and, significantly, when on home soil. You could argue that the All Blacks wouldn’t have been helped by a sickness bug that had swept through their camp just two days earlier but Kiwi coach Steve Hansen refused to use it as an excuse for his side’s first defeat in 21 matches, choosing to praise England instead for their adventure and ability to close down New Zealand’s much-vaunted back-line at source. Following on from narrow defeats against South Africa and Australia, it hasn’t been a bad autumn campaign for Lancaster and his players and England have been backed in to a best 5/2 (Ladbrokes) for the Six Nations. France, however, just hang to favouritism at 9/4 with the same firm.
Wales are the big drifters in the market following the autumn internationals, being beaten in all four matches. They should have finished off with a scrappy victory over Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday but shot themselves in the foot in the last minute to end with a narrow 14-12 defeat and are now out to a general 7/2 having been as short as 2/1 six weeks ago. They, too, suffered in the World Cup draw dropping into the third pot.
Ireland are usually competitive and are general 9/2 chances for the Six Nations but Scotland are virtually friendless with punters. They should have a new coach in place in time for the tournament, which gets under way on February 2nd, following Andy Robinson‘s recent resignation but would need massive improvement to compete with their neighbours and can be backed at 28/1 with Stan James and on Betfair. Italy are 250/1 with BetVictor, Boylesports and Stan James to win the Six Nations and are also 4/11 with Blue Square, Stan James and 888sport to collect the wooden spoon.