Unlike most sports, international rugby union doesn’t have the biggest of calendars. So, when a tournament like the Six Nations comes around, all eyes are on the oval-shaped ball. Unfortunately, for England fans, the opening weekend didn’t go as planned.
A narrow defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield who retain the Calcutta Cup. pic.twitter.com/mlF4qLhGXy— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 5, 2022
Losing is never good, but losing to Scotland, potentially the RFU’s main rival, is a kick in the stomach. Oh, it’s the second time it’s happened in two years, too. Suddenly, Eddie Jones’ men need to bounce back, yet will that be enough to secure another Six Nations crown?
Can’t Lose Rugby
The Six Nations is a small competition, which means you can usually only afford to lose one game. Sometimes, teams can lose two. However, this happens on rare occasions. As a result, England must play no-lose rugby, something the 2022 Six Nations betting odds reflect as they’re 6/1 for the outright win. The Six Nations tips before last weekend would easily have put them within the top two or three favorites. Now, they’re fourth favorites.
Of course, having to compete against the best nations in the Northern hemisphere without dropping points is tough, especially when the final game is France away from home. More than that, there’s the pressure of striving for perfection. At some point, it could blow up in England’s face.
From this perspective, it’s easy to see why the bookies believe France, Ireland and Scotland have better opportunities to take the trophy at the end of March. Jones’ boys must be flawless to upset the odds between now and then.
Decent Points Difference
A silver lining for England is the way they were defeated. Typically, losing in the dying minutes after having chances to tie the game would be heart-breaking. Joe Marler said as much when he commented on his botched lineout, and the impact the result had on the dressing room.
Still, it could have been worse. Just look at Wales and Italy. Okay, the Italians are never in the running, but the Welsh are the reigning champions after their dramatic victory in 2021. By losing heavily to Ireland, though, they are behind England in the table and the betting.
Wales are 66/1 to win the tournament outright, with only Italy having worse odds. Essentially, it’s because the country’s -22 points difference is almost impossible to overcome. England only need their PD to swing by a few points, which keeps their slim hopes alive.
Putting a loss behind them and coping with the pressures of expectations is the least of England’s worries right now. The injury list is growing longer, and the squad is bare. Jones is a freak accident away from donning a jersey and joining the field as an eligible player!
Jokes aside, it was bound to be tough enough when Owen Farrell, England’s main point scorer and captain, was ruled out for the entire competition. When news of Courtney Lawes’ ailment followed, it meant England will be without two of the top players for the Italy match, and maybe more. Lewis Ludlam is ineligible, too.
With the rest of the teams at full strength, or thereabouts, England is at a massive disadvantage. Never say never, but England are in a corner thanks to their opening weekend performance. To turn it around, they’ll need to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
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