- England have enjoyed a stunning renaissance since Eddie Jones took the reins and went unbeaten through 2016, winning all five of their Six Nations matches and beating Australia 3-0 in their tour down under.
- Wales came second in the Six Nations and rounded off their year with a victory over South Africa. Ireland produced one of the performances of the season to beat New Zealand, before the All Blacks took their revenge in Dublin. Scotland also finished 2016 strongly, beating Argentina and only losing to Australia by a point.
- New Zealand, 2015 world champions, won the Rugby Championship in 2016 and set a record for the most consecutive international victories before their run was stopped at 18 with the 40-29 defeat by Ireland at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
- Saracens won the Aviva Premiership and European Champions Cup in 2015/2016 and have started the new season positively in their quest for another double. Wasps, Bath and Leicester are all in hot pursuit in the Premiership.
The advantage of exploring the markets well in advance of the events is that the odds will generally be as good as they get, and all of the Six Nations sides showed improvement in the autumn internationals, with even Italy beating South Africa. However, England look a class apart under Eddie Jones and are understandable odds-on favourites to win the competition. With Lions places up for grabs and the chance to break New Zealand’s record for consecutive wins, a price of 9/4 on an England Grand Slam is very inviting, even though they face tough away games against Wales and Ireland.
The Lions will then travel out to New Zealand in a bid to win a series against the All Blacks for only the second time in history, and the first since 1971. Although England and Ireland are closing the gap on New Zealand and the Lions could well win one of the three Tests, a series victory on enemy territory may just prove beyond Warren Gatland’s tourists.
- Sports.net’s top tip: An England Grand Slam at the Six Nations - 9/4
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.