TRADER CHAT: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales again do battle in the Six Nations which is underway on Friday. We caught up with starsports.bet trader BEN TIDEY in a Q&A session on this year’s tournament.
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Q: From a trading perspective, what are the key aspects of the Six Nations that makes it unique in the betting sphere? 🏉
A: The Six Nations is one of sports biggest competitions which leads to much higher interest than usual compared to other rugby events. Add in all games being on free to air television we see a huge spike in bet numbers and turnover for the tournament.
Q: France is currently the outright favourite – why do you think that is? 🏉
A: A world class squad, playing Ireland & England at home and typical French flair, France just had to be favourites this year. Recent performances in Europe by Toulouse, La Rochelle and Bordeaux prove what these players can do in big competitions. An Antoine DuPont sized hole will be extremely tough to fill as well as a loss to fly-half Romain Ntamack, but the next men will still form a quality outfit. With top class players dotted throughout the squad including big men Alldritt and Ollivon, as well as arguably the world’s best wing partnership in Damian Penaud (pictured below) and Louis Bielle-Biarrey, Les Bleus will be very tough to beat in any fixture this year.
Q: How do you think defending champions Ireland will fare this year? 🏉
A: With the talented squad they have, as well as the strength of club side Leinster, where a majority of the Irish squad ply their trade, Ireland will be a tough fixture for anyone. However, another RWC quarter final exit and the loss of key player Johnny Sexton and others including talented winger Mack Hansen, this almost feels like a rebuild tournament for the Irish. Add in away trips to both France and England, a repeat grand slam feels like a massive uphill test, and we could see Ireland drop out of the top 3 for the first time since 2013.
Q: Is there a dark horse team this year? 🏉
A: England currently sit third favourites for the tournament but after a very encouraging World Cup with only a South African scrum the difference between them and a World Cup final, mixed in with some exciting young players and English club sides showing they can compete against Europe’s best, Steve Borthwick’s men will believe they should be right up there with the French and Irish.
Also, Italy have been threatening to string some performances together and despite no wins last year there were some great performances against the top sides and with their young side only improving could the likes of Garbisi, Menoncello, and Capuozzo, as well as a new head coach cause Italy to spring a few surprises this year?
Q: Are there any teams that you think could struggle this year? 🏉
A: Wales. As a Welsh fan it pains me to say but a very inexperienced squad selection as well as key players missing from recent squads including Dan Biggar and world class winger Louis Rees-Zammit, this leaves Wales relying on a lot of young players being able to step up. The form of Welsh club sides won’t fill fans with huge hope and recent sensation Immanuel Feyi-Waboso choosing England over Wales will rub salt in the wounds. 2023 didn’t see many great Welsh performances in the Six Nations and with improving sides around them a wooden spoon could be on the cards for the first time since 2003.
Q: Are there any specific storylines that will be interesting to follow? 🏉
A: Owen Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Antoine DuPont, Stuart Hogg, and Dan Biggar are only a handful of the players missing from this year’s Six Nations for what feels like an eternity since they last did and how their replacements fill their enormous shoes and sides play without them will be the key storyline to follow throughout the 2024 Six Nations.
Q: Are there any key young players to watch out for this year? 🏉
A: This year could be the tournament for exciting young backs to announce themselves on the international stage. Tommy Freeman and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (pictured below) have both been fantastic this year for respective clubs and could both shine for England. Louis Bielle-Biarrey has already starred at a World Cup and is poised to set his first Six Nations alight. With an average squad age of 24 across their back line, Italy could have some of the best young talent to call on in the tournament, Ange Capuozzo and Simone Gesi are just a couple of these players hoping to lead Italy to victory this year.
Q: What are some unique markets that Star Sports are offering for the Six Nations? 🏉
A: 2024 sees the return of our popular 2023 market, Tournament Top Try Scoring Pairs. It involves two players from different nations pairing up trying to win a ten-team market, allowing combinations of players we wouldn’t normally get to see in the same team. We also have several match-bets throughout different markets including Try Scorer match bets and team outright match bets allowing Welsh & Scottish fans the opportunity to bet the big one, to finish above England after the five rounds.
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Thanks Ben for the answers!