England vs France

England will be confident but wary when they meet France in the World Cup Quarter-Finals. Its the third successive tournament they have met them in the knock-out stages, and the omens are looking good for England to progress to a semi-final match-up against the winner of Wales and Ireland – we really couldn’t have mapped out an easier route to the final if we had tried! With all the Southern hemisphere countries fcaing off against each other, all England have to do is win the Six Nations battles (again) to guarantee a place in the Final.

Whilst England haven’t exactly started the tournament firing on all cylinders, they have done enough to get through. Their close-fought matches against Argentina and Scotland will have given Martin Johnson and his coaching team plenty of head-aches, and it’s a relief to find out that they have made some changes!

Out goes Tindall, who has laboured through the past few games, and in comes Toby Flood – not only giving us more options in terms of passing and creativity, but also giving us an insurance policy should Johnny Wilkinson be misfiring once more. Easter is in at Number 8 to play his part in what England hooker Steve Thompson says will be a ‘brutal, physical game.’

The Flood change is most welcome – in the last two head-to-heads all but five points against the French have come from the boot of Wilkinson, so if he is stuck in his current ruck with a conversion rate of just over 50%, England might find themselves in trouble.

France have hardly set the rugby world alight so far, with two losses and two unconvincing wins enough to see them qulify from their group. They lost to England 17-10 in the Six Nations, and most punters can’t see it going any differently this time around. That said, France have knocked the mighty All Blacks out in the past two tournaments, so when they are on their game, they can do anything…!

Meanwhile, French betting company BetClic is so confident of a victory that it is offering England fans a £35 No Lose Bet. You can put your money on whatever you want, and if you win you get the full winnings, and if you lose you get your money back. You don’t just get a free bet back, you can actually just withdraw your cash and run. It’s a completely risk-free offer which, frankly, EVERYBODY should be taking them up on! Click here to take advantage of this deal!

We have to back the English (available at 1.6 at Paddy Power)..

We think that England will win, but can’t see us rnning away with it. We’re guessing the winning margin to be something between 1 and 12 points, which looks reasonable value at 3.5 (with Bet Clic).

Who are you backing? Post your bets below and let us know your success stories!

Preview: Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup is just days away, and even though its not been a great year for English Rugby, there is still hope that we can repeat the feat of 2003. This time it’s taking place in New Zealand, which gives the dominant force of the All Blacks even more of an advantage – on top of having many of the World’s best players and the World’s best coach, they now have the home support to go with it!

Having crashed out so badly in France 2007, the All Blacks will be looking to prove that they are still the very best. As we all know, anything can happen in knock-out rugby (even Scotland can win on their day…), so its no small wonder that fans across the globe are getting excited. To reach the knockout stages the teams have to qualify from their groups, with the top two going into the Quarter Finals.

England have a relatively easy run-in to the knockout stages (he says..) with Argentina, Georgia, and Romania in their group along with the Scots. Argentina are growing in confidence and ability, but England should take the group on paper.

Everyone expects New Zealand to take all the points available to them when they take on Tonga, Canada and Japan, but they might end up facing France in a game to decide who finishes on top of the group. The Kiwi’s shouldn’t feel too threatened by the ageing Gallic horde.

Irish fans will be hoping that Italy get some early defeats on the board, as they are ostensibly the only real challengers for their group runners up spot. Australia should qualify as group winners (especially as they are much more used to the climate, etc), which leaves Ireland to battle it out amongst Italy, Russia and the United States for the second qualification spot.

In the final group we expect South Africa to walk it. Shaun Edwards might well say that this is the best Welsh side he has seen for a while, but that doesn’t really mean they have the capabilities to take on the Springboks. They will face a battle for the second spot from Fiji, but they should have just about enough.

Group Winners: England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa
Runners Up: Argentina, France, Ireland, Wales

All 8 teams above to reach the Quarter Finals – 13/8 at Paddy Power.
Chris Ashton as top Six Nations try-scorer – 6/1 at Boyle Sports.