Six Nations Betting

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The Six Nations Championship is the oldest international rugby tournament in the world. It involves the national sides of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy in 15 fixtures, contested over the course of seven weekends during February and March. Betting is especially heavy on the matches involving the Home Nations of the U.K., who compete not only for the Six Nations Trophy but also for the Home Nations Championship and the elusive Triple crown, while trying to avoid coming in last and winning the figurative “Wooden Spoon.”

When the international competitions began, there were not six nations, just two. A test between Scotland and England in 1871 is viewed as the birth of the championship. It led in the following year to the establishment of the Calcutta Cup for teams from the Celtic countries and the English national side, which evolved into the Home Nations Championship in 1883.

In 1910, a French side was invited to join in the tournament, which was renamed the Five Nations Championship. The visitors from the Continent struggled to compete with the accomplished U.K. squads, and two World Wars forced suspension of play. But when peace prevailed, the French found their footing and triumphed in 1955, sharing the title with Wales. From then on, they were a dominant force.

The addition of Italy in 2000 filled out the field, resulting in the tournament’s current name. Today, the Six Nations format requires each team to play the five others, receiving home advantage in alternate seasons. The RBS Six Nations Championship Trophy goes to the team earning the most points in the season, based on awards of two points for a win and one point for a draw.

Should two or more teams finish up at the top with identical points, the match points difference determines the winner—i.e., match-points “against” are subtracted from match-points “for” in all Championship matches. If the results are still equal, the winner in the teams with the most tries.

Several special awards are also up for grabs in the tournament. England and Scotland still play for the Calcutta Cup; England and Ireland have vied for the Millennium Trophy since 1988; and in 2007, France and Italy began their own special contest for the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy.

If a side wins all five of their matches, they receive the title of “Grand Slam” Champion. The Home Nations Championship goes to the best record among the four U.K. teams. Should a team from one of the four Home Unions defeat the other three, the Triple crown honour is awarded.

In recent years, France has been the team to beat, winning five Championships since 2000, including Grand Slams in 2002, 2004, and 2010. England started the new millennium strongly, with three championships in four years and a Grand Slam in 2003, but Wales and Ireland have contended hotly in the latter half of the past decade, most recently posting their own Grand Slams in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Wagering on the Six Nations typically focuses on ante post bets for the outright Champion and Home Nations winner, as well as odds on a Grand Slam or Triple Crown occurring. Betting on the various trophy match-ups is as quite popular, and there are wagers made on who will be the top tryscorer or selected as the “Man of the Tournament” and which team will take home the Wooden Spoon—Italy being the perennial favourite.

Odds are almost always short on the matches, so handicap betting gets a boost for many of the Six Nations fixtures. In all, some 30 markets are offered during the season, including Winning Margin bets at relatively long odds. And for those who can’t seem to get enough betting opportunities out of a 15-match season, there is also a Women’s Six Nations Championship conducted concurrently with the men’s competition.

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