Six Nations 2012 latest odds, news and free bets

England had a topsy-turvy 2011 which saw Martin Johnson’s team win the Six Nations Championship but ultimately disappoint in the World Cup where France knocked them out at the quarter final stage

It was enough to see Johnson step down as national team coach and England will now defend their Six Nations title with a caretaker coach in charge and a caretaker captain leading out a team to face Scotland this weekend.

The English can be backed at odds of 9/2 (Boylesports) to claim back-to-back successes, while Ladbrokes have a generous cashback promotion which will see customers get losing outright bets refunded if Stuart Lancaster’s team finish top of the table.

Perhaps the bookmaker knows that it will be a tough campaign for a new-look England team who will be led into battle by Chris Robshaw and we should also note that they have to play France in Paris on 11 March.

The French are the bookmaker favourites to repeat their success of 2010 when Les Bleus claimed a Grand Slam and they are no longer coached by the erratic Marc Lievremont who seemed to actively enjoy clashing with the players as the team made their way to the 2011 World Cup final.

While that France team was pretty defensive and fortunate to beat Wales in the semi-final, Philippe Saint-André will encourage his troops to adopt a more typically Gallic style of rugby and they should open their campaign with a nice big win over Italy on Saturday afternoon.

Les Bleus are 13/8 (bet365 – £200 free bets) to secure the title, although they do have to travel to Scotland and Wales as part of the campaign and the Welsh will be highly motivated to gain revenge for what they will see as an unjust defeat in New Zealand last autumn.

Indeed, Warren Gatland’s team were outstanding for most of the 2011 World Cup and perhaps they are the value bet at 3/1 (Sporting Bet bookmaker) especially if they can win in Ireland this coming weekend, just as they did in the quarter final of the World Cup.

Ireland are the other team that could possibly win the championship and much depends on their first two matches which could see them either top or bottom of the six teams lining up for this exciting competition.

Declan Kidney’s side are a 9/2 chance (Stan James £150 free bets) to repeat their 2009 success although the Irish seem perennially doomed to finishing second or third in Six Nations tournaments.

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