Rugby Union 6 Nations – early favourites

The greatest competition in northern Hemisphere is on the horizon once more, and the 2012 Nations looks set to be one of the most intriguing in recent years following on from the events of the world cup three months ago.

For England, the tournament represents something of a chance to show the slate has wiped clean after a disastrous World Cup showing that ended in off-the-field controversy and more importantly a string a woeful performances.

Despite having led England to the top of the table last year for their first 6 Nations success since 2003 Martin Johnson was relieved of his duties in the fallout that followed the World Cup, and in his place interim head coach Stuart Lancaster has made sweeping changes in the hope of heralding a new era of success for England.

No less than 13 changes have been made from the failed World Cup squad, while there are nine uncapped players in the squad, including Owen Farrell and his Saracens team-mate Brad Barritt, as well as Northampton scrum-half Lee Dickson and Harlequins centre Jordan Turner-Hall.

Harlequins prop Joe Marler and Wasps hooker Rob Webber are both included along with Ben Morgan to earn their first call up for England also.

If it is all change for England then Wales will be hoping things remain very much the same after a storming World Cup that was halted by a moment of controversy that robbed them of a place in the final.

Sam Warburton’s tip tackle against France earned him a red card as Wales lost out by a single point, but despite that narrow miss, Warren Gatland’s team showed themselves to be one of the most promising sides in the world.

Ireland looked to be destined for glory after their World Cup victory over a highly rated Australian side before faltering in the knockout stages, but having denied England a grand slam victory last year will be hoping for a strong showing in this year’s tournament.

France take the mantle as early rugby betting favourites after making it to the final despite losing twice in the pool stages, with Coral placing Les Blues at 7/4.

Wales are the second favourites at 11/4 with Paddy Power while England are third favourites to retain their crown at 7/2.

The two remaining teams, Scotland and Italy are huge outsiders to top the tournament, and are placed at 25/1 and 200/1 respectively.

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