Ireland (+162) vs England (-144), Draw (+2500)
The fifth and final round of the 2017 Six Nations Championship is upon us, but the winner has already been decided. No matter what happens when Ireland host England on Saturday, March 18, England will lift the cup.
That’s not to say that England have nothing to play for, though. A win against Ireland would mark another Grand Slam (winning all five games) and Triple Crown (beating the Home Nations: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). On top of that, they are just one victory away from a record-setting 19 game win-streak.
The Dublin clash was meant to be the championship decider for Ireland and England. But the Irish choked against the Welsh in the last round and handed the title to the English. Meanwhile, the English slaughtered Scotland, 61-21.
After England’s dominant performance last year (Grand Slam and Triple Crown), many pundits thought that this year’s tournament would be a lot closer. But that certainly hasn’t been the case. England currently tower over the rest of Europe and they’re even being compared to the current New Zealand side, which is currently ranked first in the world.
Ireland have suffered losses at the hands of Scotland (27-22) and Wales (22-9) so far, but they’re still the fourth-ranked Rugby nation in the world. They’ve made a habit of defying the odds recently, most notably by beating New Zealand for the first time in their history.
Even though the outcome of the tournament is not in jeopardy, the pressure will lie with England in this game; the Grand Slam, Triple Crown, and a record-setting streak are on the line. Ireland have no pressure at all and are just out to play spoiler, a role they seem to relish.
That said, after seeing England demolish Scotland, it’s hard to see them losing to any European team if they play anywhere close to their best. And even when they’ve played poorly this Championship, they still managed to bring in the win. They swept the championship last year, winning the Grand Slam and Triple Crown, and it looks like they’re going to pull it off again this year.
Pick: England (-144)
Photo credit: David Barkhausen, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.