England v Scotland is seen by many – bookies included – as a nice, easy opener for the home side. A match in which they can find their feet, ease themselves into another Six Nations tournament and stride to a comprehensive victory. Scotland will, of course, have other ideas.
Scotland haven’t won at Twickenham for 30 years and had a fruitless trio of Autumn internationals, losing to New Zealand and South Africa (as expected) but also Tonga (which wasn’t).
This Six Nations opener between Wales and Ireland promises to be one of the matches of this year’s championship. The bookmakers feel that both sides are in with a fair shout of overall tournament victory, but a victory here would surely be essential if either is to go all the way.
Ireland have the easier fixtures this year, playing favourites England and second favourites France at home and only needing to travel – after this one – to wooden spoon contenders Scotland and Italy. A win at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday would set Declan Kidney’s men up nicely to take only their second Six Nations Championship of the 21st century (after their emphatic 2009 Grand Slam success when they beat Wales in the final match in Cardiff).
But as the Welsh showed last year when winning their own Grand Slam, including the 23-21 triumph over Ireland at Lansdowne Road, the Irish could be up against it in this fixture.
If you want to place any bets on this market with the bookies, with Bet365 pricing them at 8/13 to win the opener, with Ireland at 5/4 and the tie at 18/1.