Six Nations

Six Nations Tips: Back France to rebound from World Cup blow with title

France playing Ireland
France can reclaim the title from Ireland this season

France came up short as World Cup hosts last year but Simon Mail expects the tournament favourites will live up to their status in the Six Nations...

  • France have point to prove

  • Ireland bid to defend their title

  • England searching for Six Nations lift

France to reclaim Six Nations title

France suffered an agonising World Cup exit on home soil last year but Les Bleus can rebound by justifying Six Nations favouritism. Fabien Galthie's side were left heartbroken after the eventual winners South Africa edged to a thrilling quarter-final victory over the hosts in Paris.

It was a devastating loss for France after such a strong buildup to the tournament but their attention is focused on reclaiming the Six Nations after their Grand Slam success two years ago. France did not do too much wrong in the World Cup and, despite missing star scrum-half Antoine Dupont this season due to his Olympics preparation, they have the talent to regroup quickly.

Damian Penaud scored six tries at the World Cup and was top tryscorer with five in last season's Six Nations. The prolific French winger will receive plenty of opportunities and his clinical finishing merits a bet at 4/15.00 to again top the tryscoring chart.

Back Damian Penaud to be to top try scorer @ 4/15.00

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France were pipped to the title last season by Ireland but crucially Les Bleus have home advantage this time in a huge opening night fixture. Victory over the Irish in this showdown will set them up strongly for their title challenge and France are backed to land the title for the second time in three years.

Ireland must rebuild after Sexton exit

Ireland dominated last year's Six Nations with Andy Farrell's all-conquering team winning the Grand Slam. They went into the World Cup with great momentum and expectation but their hopes were crushed in a gripping quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.

This loss marked the final match of Johnny Sexton's legendary career with the fly-half retiring following their World Cup exit. Farrell must look to the future in this position with the flanker Peter O'Mahony selected to captain Ireland.

The defending champions are 2.9215/8 to win the title again but a daunting opener in France does not aid their cause. The loss of Sexton is another factor and Ireland also face a trip to Twickenham to take on England in round four. Tricky away matches are enough to oppose them and siding with France to win the title appeals.

Back France to win Six Nations @ 2.265/4

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England need stronger Six Nations

England finished third at last year's World Cup and now the target for Steve Borthwick is to lead his team to a better Six Nations campaign. Fourth place last season featured three defeats and a record 53-10 home drubbing against France.

Their performances in France were far from flamboyant but England's pragmatic gameplan and a generous draw helped them progress to within a whisker of reaching the World Cup final. With Owen Farrell taking a break and heading to France this summer, England are in transition and the onus will be on Marcus Smith to establish himself as their fly-half.

Smith has the potential to flourish in the role with a regular run in the team. The Harlequins back finished as the top points scorer in the 2022 Six Nations and a repeat could be on the cards. His pace and ability to score a try give him additional scoring possibilities alongside the kicking tee and he is an appealing price at [5/1].

Back Marcus Smith to be top points scorer @ 5/16.00

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England have the opportunity to ease their way into the competition, with an opener in Italy followed by a home clash against Wales. But England still look some distance behind France and Ireland making it a difficult case to back them for the title at odds of 8.27/1.

Scotland likely to trouble favourites

Scotland finished third in last season's tournament and Gregor Townsend's team look capable of upsetting one of the competition favourites. A victory last season at Twickenham highlights their capability and with Finn Russell orchestrating their attack, another scalp is realistic.

Home games against England and France will be major targets but three away matches limits Scotland's chances of mounting a title challenge.

Wales regroup under Gatland

Wales are in transition with Warren Gatland tasked with developing a new team after the retirements of a cluster of the old guard over the last year. Losing potent finisher Louis Rees-Zammit to the NFL on the eve of this tournament was a huge blow and, having lost four matches in last year's Six Nations, Wales are unlikely to be in the title picture.

Italy face a huge challenge to avoid the wooden spoon again. The last time Italy avoided finishing bottom was back in 2015 when Scotland propped up the table. Italy's only victory in the last eight campaigns was against Wales two years ago and another tough Six Nations is expected.

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