Six Nations | Rugby
Andrew Robinson previews England’s chances in this season’s tournament
England’s Six Nations campaign kicks off with what should be a routine win over Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday. With the excitement growing we’ve taken a look at what England, under the stewardship of Stuart Lancaster will bring to the table this year.
Six Nations history
In the 13 years since the event was comprised of six nations, England have been quite successful, with the most dominant period coming under the guidance of Sir Clive Woodward.
England have picked up four tournament wins since 2000, with the last coming in 2011 when former Rugby League man Chris Ashton showed his Union friends how to do it, swandiving his way to six tries.
It was only Ireland in the final match of the tournament that prevented a Grand Slam, which would have been England’s 12th since the Home Nations tournament, as it was formerly known, began in 1883, the most any team has achieved.
England hold the record for the number of Triple Crowns won with 23, followed by Wales with 20, Scotland and Ireland both with ten.
England managed to rescue a disastrous autumn international period with a barnstorming 38-21 win over world champions New Zealand at Twickenham, breaking the All Black’s unbeaten run of 20 internationals in the process.
Prior to Lancaster’s men’s stunning win over the All Blacks they had been in awful form. A calamitous tour of South Africa ended with two defeats and a draw, followed by losses to the Springboks and Australia in consecutive weeks at Twickenham.
Before November’s win England had to hark back to March 2012 for their last win, a 30-9 victory over Ireland in the 2012 Six Nations.
If Lancaster and his squad want to pull something out the bag this time around they will be targeting some key games. The opener, a Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland this weekend, will shape their tournament. They are huge 1/18 favourites for the win and will be hoping new Scotland boss Scott Johnson won’t spring a surprise and get the Jocks scoring tries again.
England also face tough trips to Cardiff and Dublin to take on Wales and Ireland, who love getting one over the men in white.
Players to watch
England’s squad is dropping faster than a Swansea ballboy trying to waste time, with Manu Tuilagi, Alex Corbisiero, Freddie Burns and Tom Johnson all set to miss some of the tournament.
Tuilagi will be back after the Scotland game and will be one to watch, while Ashton will also be looking to recapture his 2011 form.
England’s Latest Six Nations betting odds with Paddy Power
England are 15/8 to win the Six Nations, 11/2 to pull off a Grand Slam and 100/1 to have a nightmare and go home with a nice kitchen utensil made from a tree, the dreaded wooden spoon.
England v Scotland, 4pm, Twickenham (BBC1)
ENGLAND: A Goode; C Ashton, B Barritt, B Twelvetrees, M Brown; O Farrell, B Youngs; J Marler, T Youngs, D Cole, J Launchbury, G Parling, T Wood, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan.
SCOTLAND: S Hogg; S Maitland, S Lamont, M Scott, T Visser; R Jackson, G Laidlaw; R Grant, D Hall, E Murray, R Gray, J Hamilton, A Strokosch, K Brown (capt), J Beattie.