Rugby Union – England v Ireland, Twickenham; Scotland v France, Murrayfield

The Rugby Union fixtures continue to come at us thick and fast. Followers may notice the usual autumn series of test matches have been replaced by a summer schedule and the reason for that is the upcoming World Cup in Japan.

The showpiece event gets started on Friday 20 September when the hosts take on Russia from 11.45am in a match that will be shown live on ITV. Armchair fans can follow every game of note from the competition live on the same TV station and there’s also betting coverage on each and every fixture thanks to the work put in by major online bookmakers.

You can have your say on the winner of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan or punt on dozens of markets, offered pre-match and in play. These include game-winner, handicap, first try scorer, half time/full time, to win to nil and plenty more besides. That’s more than enough to keep backers happy and involved throughout the course of the action. The Rugby World Cup will be exciting, but that can’t compete with making a profit from the play.

Summer Seriously Important for Both Players and Coaches

A glance at the early outright betting shows New Zealand has been priced up as the most likely winners of the World Cup and William Hill are offering a market best price of 5/4, although you’ll find many major firms are in agreement over that one. South Africa comes in as the second most likely side to walk away with the trophy and they have a 5/1 price attached, coming in ahead of England at 6/1, Ireland 8/1 and Wales 11/1.

Preparation for the upcoming World Cup is the reason you’ll see all competing nations put through a hectic schedule designed to prepare them for battle. Coaches use the summer series of matches to put the finishing touches to their squad selections, giving players the chance to impress before announcing the final line-up. It also gives managers an opportunity to work on various tactics and game plans before boarding the plane to Japan. Players are after fitness, match sharpness and the confidence that comes from heading to a World Cup on a strong run of form.

Busy Weekend Ahead for Fans and Punters

This weekend presents followers of international rugby union with another packed schedule, the best of the round scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Club rugby comes in the form of the Top 14 tournament but there will be more eyes on an international doubleheader as Scotland face off against France at Murrayfield, with the hosts looking for revenge following last week’s humiliation. We then turn our attention to Twickenham where England and Ireland, two sides fancied in the World Cup outright betting, lock horns from 3.00pm. A real treat for sports fans and we’re certain there will also be a flurry of activity from those who enjoy gambling their cash on the outcome.

Each of the two matches mentioned carries a flood of betting markets, meaning you can minimise the risk involved by betting on singles in each fixture or shoot for a bigger return and back a double or perhaps even an accumulator by adding selections from different sports taking place on Saturday. The more picks in your acca the higher the risk of you falling short, but the rewards are far greater and that’s something that catches the imagination of backers.

Scotland v France

This match takes place at Murrayfield on Saturday and carries a 1.10pm kick-off time. It’ll be shown live on Premier Sports and, with the locals going in believing they have a score to settle with the French, we’re guaranteed a thrilling contest. Murrayfield will be packed to the rafters as the usually loyal and patriotic Scots support turn out to lend a hand, aiming to cheer their side on to a famous victory. There will also be a sizeable audience following at home and in sports bars across the UK, glued to the live TV coverage. This one has been billed as a real grudge match and we’re certain it will live up to the hype.

Not only will we get a chance to see this Scotland team in action before heading to Japan, but we will also get an idea of just what can be expected from them at the World Cup. Much has been made of how good and talented this team is but it’s fair to say they have blown hot and cold of late. We saw at the last World Cup Scotland are more than a match for any side on their day and are good enough to go far into the competition, but they must hit the ground running in game one against Ireland and build from there. They can’t afford a settling in period or even an off day as the pressure will be on to qualify from their pool from the first whistle.

One of the problems that face the Scotland coaching staff is their lack of squad depth. Teams like England know competition for places on the plane is fierce so the main contenders must perform if they are to travel to the World Cup and keep their place in the squad. Just about every player who turns out wearing the dark blue of Scotland will be invited to Japan, regardless of how well they perform during the summer test series. There’s no pressure on the players and that’s not a good thing. Having said that, the Scots are a professional and ambitious bunch, so will be pushing themselves during the warm-up matches. They’re eager to take a run of form to Japan.

France Ran Riot Last Week

These sides met only last week in France as Les Bleus ran riot, leaving their opponents’ preparations in tatters. The pair faced off on Saturday evening in the game of the day and a competitive encounter was expected, but the teams didn’t deliver. Scotland aimed to keep things tight, knowing a win on French soil was probably a bridge too far. They were right with that call but were way off the mark with their predictions of making the French work for their win. France ran over Scotland in a real show of strength that got fans excited about what lies ahead.

The final scoreboard last weekend read France 32-3 Scotland and that accurately reflected how the game went, with the victors dominating from start to finish. There were home tries for Raka, Medard – who helped himself to two – Alldritt and Dupont. Lopez knocked over a couple of conversations and he also bagged himself a penalty, helping widen the margin between the teams on the night. All Scotland could offer in response was a first-half penalty from Hastings that did nothing to stop the charge of France. The half time team talk that evening in the Scotland dressing room would’ve been an interesting one, but it had no effect, Scotland conceding a dozen points during the second 40 minutes of play, failing to add any of their own.

Will Saturday be a case of repeat or revenge? Winning in France was never likely, but followers of Scottish rugby would’ve liked to have seen their side be a little more competitive and put up a better challenge on the road. They have to be sharper at home and although the crowd will back them from the first whistle, they’ll want to see value for money and better than they got seven days before. Scotland must meet France head-on and go very close to securing a share of sweet revenge? Is that achievable? Not on the showing of last week but Murrayfield is a special place to play rugby and the Scots are a tough nut to crack on their own patch.

The current betting has Scotland as favourites to fire a warning shot to their World Cup rivals by beating the mighty France in Edinburgh. Ladbrokes offer the home win as 8/13 jolly and that’s one of the more generous prices available. That really caught us off guard as we expected France to be market leader, or for the betting to be much closer than it is. Can Scotland go from being hammered to winners in the space of seven days? France will feel like they have made their point and will surely rest a few of their regular starters with the World Cup in mind, but there looks to be real value in backing them to do the double. The away win is 7/5, market best price at Betfair, and that’s much more generous than we thought we’d find. Some firms have the draw as big as 28/1, although 20/1 is the general feeling in the parade ring at the time of publishing. The handicap betting stands at Scotland -3 at 10/11 with Ladbrokes against France +3 at 10/11, also at Ladbrokes. The handicap draw is yours at 22/1 when getting your cash down at Betfair.

England v Ireland

England v Ireland

England step up their preparations with a home match at Twickenham against Ireland on Saturday, a contest you can follow live on Sky Sports from 3.00pm. The locals are another side looking determined to get back to winning ways following defeat in Cardiff last week, a result that threw up more questions than answers for followers of English rugby. They are one of the favourites to win the World Cup in Japan but England, like Scotland, has gone on and off the boil during this series of warm-up matches. Fans will be hoping the team get it right when it matters, although they also need to see a real improvement in this match compared to what they got in Wales last week.

England hammered the Welsh 33-19 when last playing at this venue, but the match was a little closer than the final score would have us believe. The difference that day was the hosts’ kicking as they booted their way to victory thanks to conversations and penalties after Wales met fire with fire in the race for tries. England did the ugly side of the job to win that day, but they couldn’t repeat the feat when crossing the border for the second leg of a double-header. It was expected they would flex their muscles to finish the job in Wales but that wasn’t the case. The Dragons were intent on revenge, and they got it in some style.

Wales won 13-6 at the Principality Stadium when England came calling last Saturday. The beaten side failed to score a try and had Ford to thank for kicking two conversations to get them off the mark. Wales made much better use of the ball and scored a try through North as well as a Biggar conversion and Biggar and Halfpenny penalties. It was a fully deserved win for Wales and one that brought their opponents crashing back to earth at an important time. The win also sent Wales racing to the top of the world rankings and they are now the best side on the planet heading to Japan.

Ireland Given a Shock by Italy

Ireland was last seen in action back on 10 August when beating Italy in a match that presented to real problems. This is certainly a step up in class for the visitors, but they take on the challenge fully rested and raring to go. Ireland may not be as sharp as their opponents following a bit of a break in play but the squad have been active on the training ground in the build-up to this one and travel to England confident they will show exactly what they are made of by pushing their opponents to the wire in front of their own fans. It would certainly be a brave pundit who would completely write the visitors off without a second thought. They are no mere opponents, that’s for sure.

Ireland oozed class during that run of the mill victory over Italy in Dublin. They scored tries through Carbery, Kearney, Conway, Murphy and Marmion. Carbery also helped himself to a couple of conversions but will be disappointed he only managed two from the opportunities available to him that day. Italy took the lead against Ireland and scored two tries, which caught many off guard, including their opponents. Mbanda and Canna crossed the line for the visitors and that just goes to prove there are no easy matches in international rugby these days. Any side can present a challenge, meaning favourites must always protect against complacency. England will do well to remember that when going in as hot favourites against Ireland on Saturday.

Bookmakers Price England as Hot Favourites

The current betting for this match has England as favourites to win and that will come as no surprise to punters or those with even a casual interest in rugby union. The hosts are a talented team and are more than good enough to beat any opponent at this venue, as they have proven on memorable nights many times in the past. The fact England need to get back to winning ways is also a contributing factor to the oddsmakers throwing their support behind the locals.

Fancy a bet on England to beat Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday? You’ll have to make do with the 4/9 offered by 10bet. That’s short but it’s actually a little better than we expected to find and we’re sure the home win will be very popular with punters, especially those building weekend accumulators. Back England and we’re confident you’ll land a return on your investment. Those chasing a bigger price can take a pop at Ireland upsetting the party at 2/1 – market best price with Betfair. The draw is yours at 25/1 if you can’t split the age-old rivals, that quote taken from the Ladbrokes website.

England -5 points on the handicap is 10/11 with William Hill, Ireland +5 points chalked up at even money by the good people at bet365. If England are as intent on getting back on track as we expect, backing them to win on the handicap is a shrewd investment.