Six Nations Round Four: England’s march to continue?

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

After a week off, the Six Nations returns this weekend and it couldn’t be more tense!

As expected, it’s England and Ireland vying for the title, with Scotland sitting closely behind in third. They’ll be getting a nosebleed soon…

The Scots will be brought back down to earth at Twickenham this weekend though and while Italy host France in the basement battle, Wales and Ireland kick things off on Friday night.

That’s where I’ll begin…

Wales v Ireland (Friday @ 20:05)

I’ve given the Welsh a lot of flack in recent times, so why change the habit of a lifetime…

You wouldn’t think things could get much worse for Wales after their shambles of a display in Scotland, but they need to prepare themselves for the worst. It’s going to hurt!

Why? Because come Friday evening, the Welsh will have lost to Scotland, England and Ireland in the same year in the five/six nations for the first time since 2003… Ouch!

The Irish will punish Rob Cowley’s side, who make way too many unforced errors, which will set up a lovely title decider in Dublin next Sunday against England. I’m already rubbing my hands…

Don’t get me wrong though, Ireland haven’t got much boasting to do. Let’s face it, they’ve only beaten Italy and France so far and that’s not exactly difficult.

They’ll win this one. It’s just a shame it will only give them false hope ahead of England’s victory next week!


Italy v France (Saturday @ 13:30)

Is there any point to this one? Well it is the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy I guess…

I suppose it does give France a chance to feel better about themselves following their defeat in Ireland two weeks ago.

To bounce back from their defeat against England, with a win against the Scots but then to lose against Ireland just proves that the French are as consistent as my bowel movements and trust me, that’s not a good thing…

They’ll surely have enough to beat the whipping boys in Rome, but this does look like Italy’s final chance to get any points on the board because they don’t stand a chance at Murrayfield next week.

Oh, who am I kidding, another wooden spoon is in the post!


England v Scotland (Saturday @ 16:00)

It’s Calcutta Cup action at Twickenham and I’d put my daughter’s new pony on England to continue their march towards back-to-back Grand Slams. My life wouldn’t be worth living if I lost that one, so trust me when I say it’s going to happen!

I could not think of a better opponent for England to secure a record equalling 18th consecutive victory against…

The Scots could actually win the Triple Crown on Saturday afternoon but there’s more chance of that happening than Donald Trump telling the truth.

Yes, they’ve picked up wins against Ireland and Wales but England aren’t Ireland and Wales. Thank god!

Eddie Jones’ side haven’t even put in a good performance yet and they’ve won every game. It’s been like taking candy from a baby…

Enjoy another win lads!


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Six Nations Round Three: More Welsh misery on the cards…

By Brian Rucker, My Club Betting Rugby Correspondent

Are you ready for another scintillating weekend of Six Nations action? Well I am!

It’s only been two weeks since England crushed Welsh hearts, Ireland battered the whipping boys Italy and France brought the Scots back down to earth but it’s felt like a lifetime!

The weekend of action kicks off at Murrayfield on Saturday and ends at Twickenham on Sunday afternoon and here’s my thoughts on how things will unravel…

Scotland v Wales (Saturday @ 14:25)

I’ve had some unconfirmed reports over the last fortnight that every shop in Wales sold out of tissues following their 21-16 defeat to England!

Those shelves better be re-stocked because the demand will be high once again come Saturday afternoon when the Welsh get battered in Edinburgh…


Captained by John Barclay, the Scots will have to improve on their awful set-pieces which so far, have been as successful as a Wayne Rooney hair transplant.

Do that and they’re onto a winner. The Welsh will try to bully Scotland but what always happens to bullies? They get found out. Wales will be no different. Tissues at the ready folks…


Ireland v France (Saturday @ 16:50)

This game is being billed as the clash which could keep the title hopes alive of the winner but let’s be honest, it’s the decider for second place because neither have the balls to win it.

Yes, the Irish crushed Italy two weeks ago with nine touchdowns but come on, Sutton United’s former pie eating goalkeeper could get into that Italian side!


France did what the Irish couldn’t a fortnight ago in beating Scotland but they reminded me of a dying cat struggling to get home, as they stumbled across the line to record a 22-16 victory in Paris.

Ireland will win this one but that’s only because the French wings are as strong as the British economy…

Don’t get too excited though. It’s only second place after all.


England v Italy (15:00)

Are you ready for a cricket score? I hope so because that’s what we’re going to get!

In fact, England’s class of 2001 should enjoy their last few days of being the record point’s scorers in a Six Nations game.

Surprise, surprise they registered 80 points against Italy 16 years ago and it’s the Italians who will be on the end of yet another drubbing on Sunday afternoon.


They’ve managed 17 points so far, but Eddie Jones’ men will have scored more than that in the opening 20 minutes at Twickenham!

It could be that bad that the Italians have to declare a national day of mourning on Monday.

RIP Italian Rugby…


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The Premier League is taking a break this weekend, with the Euro 2016 Playoffs and International Friendlies taking its place.

But don’t fret, that hasn’t stopped our tipping team, who have researched all the weekend action to provide you with these top tips.

All the odds provided are an average from across the industry and were correct at the time of publish.


Dzeko: Talisman

These two sides had very similar Euro 2016 qualification campaigns. Both sides started slowly, but eventually recovered to finish third in their respective groups and claim a playoff place. Bosnia (2.05) were pipped to qualification from Group B by Belgium and Wales, while the Republic of Ireland (4.10) successfully fended off neighbours Scotland to claim the Group D playoff spot.

The two sides have only met on one previous occasion, with Shane Long scoring the winner at The Aviva Stadium three years ago.

Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic are the heartbeat of this Bosnia side. Both men are currently plying their trade with Italian giants Roma, with their link-up play becoming equally lethal for club and country.

Martin O’Neil will be hoping that experienced Stoke pair Jonathan Walters and Glenn Whelan can continue their recent impressive club form while on international duty.

Bosnia only lost one game at home in qualification, and we don’t see that changing on Friday night. We are going for a home win here.

KICK OFF: FRIDAY 13TH @ 19:45 (SS1)



Hodgson: 100% record in qualification

It may surprise many, but England are currently in better form that their Spanish counterparts. Roy Hodgson’s men won every single game in Euro 2016 qualification and are unbeaten since their World Cup loss to Uruguay back in June of last year.

That said, Spain (1.85) also sailed through qualification. However, they did lose in recent friendlies against Holland, France and Germany.

England (4.75) were 1-0 winners in the last meeting, with Frank Lampard netting the winner at Wembley back in 2011.

International friendlies usually mean squad rotation and experimentation. We certainly expect that to be the case on Friday night and expect both sides to blood some more youthful options.

Tottenham pair Dele Alli and Erik Dier were both called up by Roy Hodgson and we anticipate both playing a part after equally impressive performances against rivals Arsenal last week.

We can see an open game in Alicante and really fancy both sides to get on the scoresheet.




Coleman: Doing a fine job

Chris Coleman has done a fantastic job since taking over as Wales (4.20) manager in 2012. The Dragons successfully qualified for Euro 2016 after coming through a very tough group that included Belgium, Bosnia and Israel. Along with this, they also made their way into the top ten of the FIFA World Rankings for the first time.

It has been a completely contrasting story for Holland (1.95) since their third place finish in last year’s World Cup. After a disastrous start to their Euro 2016 qualification campaign, Guus Hiddink vacated his managerial position. However, his successor Danny Blind was not able to turn things around, with Holland failing to get even a playoff spot after finishing fourth in Group A, meaning they won’t be present at Euro 2016.

Aaron Ramsey will miss this one with injury, while Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has been rested. The two men were instrumental in qualification, contributing to a vast number of their countries goals during the campaign. That said, senior players such as Joe Ledley, Chris Gunter and Ashley Williams will play, with all possessing the ability to stabilise the side in their absence.

The hosts are a huge price for this one, even without Ramsey and Bale present. We see Wales getting a draw here – at the very least.




Andriy Yarmolenko: Talented

From an historical standpoint, it is surprising to see Slovenia (6.50) as big outsiders for their European Championship qualifying playoff first leg, since they have never lost to Ukraine in four previous meetings. Slovenia have won both meetings at home and each meeting saw over 2.5 goals scored.

Ukraine (1.65) won three of their last four group games at home, their only loss coming at home to Spain, while Slovenia lost three of five road games in England’s group.

Slovenia’s group wins in Lithuania and San Marino were expected, but it must be remembered that they scored in each game against England and in each of their last eight group games.

Ukraine conceded just four goals in their qualifying matches and are technically sophisticated, with two excellent wingers who have the ability to open up some of the best teams in the world.

We feel Ukraine should have enough to pull out the win here.




Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Dominant

The first leg of this European Championship qualifying playoff game is expected to be a tight affair.

Denmark (3.45) have won the last four meetings with Sweden, who have failed to score in the last five meetings. Nine of the last 12 meetings has seen less than three goals scored and Sweden have won three of their five home games in qualifying, against minnows Moldova, Liechtenstein and Montenegro. They also lost 1-4 against Austria and drew 1-1 with Russia.

Denmark were also far from convincing in their qualifying group, but they did post a notable away win in Serbia, and took road points at Albania and Armenia. Their sole losses in the group came against Portugal (1-0 home and away), but they failed to score in their last three group games.

We see Sweden (2.40) gaining a first-leg advantage, albeit a narrow one.




Pogba: Key man for France

France (3.00) are the hosts of Euro 2016, meaning they didn’t need to qualify for the tournament. While some may argue that such a scenario is a blessing, others will argue that a lack of competitive action for two years can have a detrimental effect on a team.

England (2.40) have not beaten Tuesday’s opponents in any of their last six meetings, with their last victory coming back in 1997. The last meeting between the two sides took place at Euro 2012 and ended in a 1-1 draw.

Paul Pogba is the key man for Didier Deschamps side. The powerful Juventus midfielder has the ability to dominate opponents, both tactically and physically. Pogba has been instrumental for France since his debut in 2013 and has been constantly likened to countryman Patrick Vieira.

Of the last ten meetings between these sides, only one has ended with more than two goals being scored. That stat, combined with both sides evident strength in defence, leads us to believe that this one will be a low scoring encounter.



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The wait is finally over! The Rugby World Cup kicks off on Friday night as England host Fiji.

All roads lead to Twickenham, where the Final will be played on October 31st.

We hope our pool-by-pool betting guide, constructed by our man Calum Chinchen, can provide you with some winners along the way.

Remember to keep checking out the MCB WordPress site ( for regular betting previews on a variety of sports.

All prices quoted are an average from across the industry… we wish you the best of luck!

New Zealand: Defending champions


Hosts England have looked more than efficient in their warm-up games and were particularly impressive in victories over France and Ireland. Anthony Watson is England’s key man at the moment and the speedy Bath fullback will be hoping to carry his Aviva Premiership and World Cup warm-up form into the tournament itself.

Watson: Speed merchant

Home advantage will be massive for Stuart Lancaster’s men, who are second favourites to lift the famous Webb Ellis cup. We fancy them to advance as from Pool A as winners.

Australia come into this tournament after winning the 2015 Rugby Championship, a tournament involving themselves, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. The Wallabies looked terrific throughout the tournament, beating tournament favourites New Zealand along the way and finishing with a 100% record. They haven’t got the best World Cup record of late and they have not reached a final since losing to England in 2003. That said, they will have no difficulty advancing from Pool A and we fancy them to finish second behind the hosts.

Wales are not in the greatest form and we can see them struggling throughout the tournament. Key players Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb have been ruled out of the tournament, with coach Warren Gatland cursing his luck after both were injured in warm-up games.

Wales will find it very difficult to get vital results against both England and Australia, thus we don’t see them finishing in the top two.

Uruguay and Fiji are the other two teams in this pool and we see the latter possibly causing the so-called ‘big boys’ a little difficulty along the way.



Habana: Experienced

South Africa are the strongest team in Pool B, and by a considerable distance. The Springboks had an extremely tough time in the Rugby Championship over the summer, losing all three games. We just feel the lack of strength within the group, coupled with the presence of experienced stars Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will be more than enough to see South Africa top the pool and advance to the next stage with a 100% record.

Scotland won’t be too downhearted by being drawn in this pool and it looks as though it will be a straight battle between themselves and Samoa for second place. The clash between the two sides at St James Park comes in the final round of fixtures, and looks as though it will be crucial for both nations. We think it will be tougher for Vern Cotter’s men than most people expect, but fancy influential captain Greg Laidlaw and experienced hooker Ross Ford to guide the Scots to the next round at the expense of their Samoan counterparts.

We can’t see Japan or the USA troubling any of the other three teams in Pool B, and we can only see the two sides gaining points when they play each other. We see Samoa comfortably finishing in third position here.



There is absolutely no doubt who is going to come out on top of Pool C. New Zealand are the clear tournament favourites and we can see them winning every match in the pool with real ease.

The All Blacks suffered a shock defeat to rivals Australia in the Rugby Championship, which cost them the trophy. However, we don’t see that having a negative effect on them during this campaign.

McCaw & Carter: Final World Cup

Experienced flanker and skipper Richie McCaw will be looking to lift the Webb Ellis Cup, in what will be his last World Cup. Iconic fly-half Dan Carter will also be participating in his final World Cup campaign and will be looking to make amends after only playing two games of the 2011 tournament which the All Blacks captured.

Argentina would have been delighted with the draw and will more than fancy their chance of advancing. Although they will accept that the All Blacks will be too strong for them, they will also feel more that confident of beating the other three sides in the group and qualifying behind New Zealand.

Tonga will no doubt give Argentina competition for the converted second place in Pool C. Captain Nili Latu will be vital for the Tongans. The former Green Rockets star recently signed for the Newcastle Falcons and is equally capable when playing on the flank or at number 8. We see Tonga running Argentina close, but we just can’t see them doing enough to qualify.

The other two sides in the group are Georgia and Namibia, and we can see the presence of two minnows alongside the phenomenal All Blacks leading to a massive number of tries within Pool C.



Zebo: Vital for Ireland

Ireland are favourites to win Pool D. Although they have never advanced further than the Quarter Finals in a World Cup, they do come into this tournament in good form after winning this year’s Six Nations title. Speedy winger Simon Zebo will be key for the Irish, along with fly half Jonny Sexton who has recently joined Leinster after a successful two years at Racing Metro.

France aren’t in the greatest form, but they always seem to have the capability to pull a rabbit out of the hat on the World Cup stage, as they showed in 2011 when they reached the final.

However, there have been rumours of disharmony within the camp and reports suggest that they aren’t happy with the facilities or surroundings at their Croydon base (now there’s a shock!). We fancy them to advance, but see them finishing second in Pool D, behind this Irish.

Italy area vastly improved side, and will cause both France and Ireland difficulty. Sergio Parisse is an icon amongst Italian rugby fans and will once again captain his nation at the tournament. The instrumental Stade Francais talisman is widely regarded as one of the greatest number 8’s in modern rugby, and will be vital for his side as always. That said, we just can’t see them doing enough to get a victory against the big two in the pool and can’t see them advancing to the next stage.

Canada and Romania make up the numbers in Pool D and we can’t see them causing any upsets if we are honest.



We fancy the hosts England to make it all the way to the final, where they will more than likely be facing an incredibly strong New Zealand side.

We just can’t see the All Blacks being stopped and think they will cruise to World Cup glory on October 31st at Twickenham.


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Something for the weekend – your wager persuaders – Six Nations (March 8-9)


England v Wales

The RBS 6Nations Championship is heading towards a climax, and while both sides will naturally want to win, this is as much a pointer to see where each nation is going into the 2015 World Cup.

Wales are almost where they want and expect to be. Warren Gatland’s side have been together for some time. England are quickly emerging as a major force and what some units lack in experience, they make up for in depth and quality.

Many see Wales as contenders for the World Cup semi-final, yet they failed to convince against Italy and were completely out-classed by Ireland. They are rushing back Jonathan Davies and will also be boosted by fellow British and Irish Lion Alun Wyn Jones.

Wales won last year’s tussle 30-3 in Cardiff. At present, they are the best team in Europe – since the last World cup they have won both Six Nations titles that have been played with a record of 11 wins and only two losses. England are still a year away from peaking, which is exactly where this young team expects to be.

We have our doubts about referee Romain Poite, who virtually handed New Zealand a 29-15 victory over South Africa in Auckland last September, but hopefully he won’t get in the way of what should be a Twickenham thriller.

For our money, England (4/7) have a vastly superior pack and will be fuelled by last season’s humiliating defeat which robbed them of the Grand Slam.

Wales’ crushing victory over France owed much to the woeful play of Philippe Saint-Andre’s team, yet the bounce-back from the crushing defeat in Dublin was nonetheless impressive.

We take Wales to win a close one and upset the odds. They are currently 6/4, but can be backed at 9/10 in receipt of 3.5-points.

Ireland v Italy

Italy will be without influential captain Sergio Parisse because of a leg injury and he will be replaced by Trevisio’s Robert Barbieri, with veteran lock Marco Bortolami leading the winless Italians.

Ireland make one change for the side beaten by England: in comes back-row Iain Henderson as a replacement for the injured Peter O’Mahoney.

Italy picked up a first ever Championship win over Ireland 12 months ago but don’t expect them to double up. Ireland are considered 1/33 favourites, with the Italians available at 10/1.

With Brian O’Driscoll winning a world record 140th Test cap and playing his final game for Ireland on home soil, look for his side to send him off in style.

Italy gave Wales all they could handle on opening weekend, but are a far different proposition without Parisse and we take the hosts to cover a large handicap.

Scotland v France

France come into this game on the back of a humiliating 27-6 loss to Wales – which could have been far worse – while Scotland are buoyed by their 21-20 success in Rome.

Yet even after their dreadful loss, France are still in the mix for the 6 Nations title. Coach Philippe Saint-Andre, with his job in doubt, has turned over almost half the side, with three new loose forwards, three new backs and a third-choice hooker.

Scotland make four changes, including bringing in tight-head prop Geoff Cross for his first start in a year. Skipper Kelly Brown is recalled, as is David Denton.

Scotland will play with passion at Murrayfield and it is anyone’s guess which France side turns up. The guess is the experienced French duo of captain Pascal Pape and tighthead Nicolas Mas will get the edge up front and that is one of the reasons why they are considered 3/10 favourites.

Scotland can be backed at 9/10 in receipt of 7.5 points, because they have the capability to win this.

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Something for the weekend – your wager persuaders – Six Nations and Soccer betting


England v Ireland

This pivotal RBS 6Nations Championship encounter sees unchanged Ireland going for the Triple Crown and a win keeps them on course for the Grand Slam. They have not won at Twickenham since 2010, but that should not put anyone off taking them at 13/8.

If Ireland are to win, they will need a strong kicking game in order to take advantage of England’s inexperience on the wing in Jack Nowell and Jonny May. The key, however, is only so much down to the boot of Conor Murray, Brian O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Jonathan Sexton.

England will sorely miss Dan Cole, who has started 45 of England’s last 48 Tests. He has been the fulcrum of England’s scrum. While David Whitehead is a competent tighthead, Stuart Lancaster’s side are sure to miss Cole.  

There is no question that the Irish backs will challenge England at the breakdown. Likewise, England’s line-out, and in particular Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes, will be challenged by Brian O’Driscoll’s men.

Losing narrowly to New Zealand was no flash in the pan; Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are the real deal and England are simply too short at 4/6. Ireland look the value bet to pull off a shock. They can be backed at 19/20 in receipt of a 3.5-point handicap start.

Italy v Scotland

Scott Johnson’s selections and tactics have been questioned in some quarters, with just six points scored in two 6Nations matches. But forget current form for a moment; Scotland are building for the 2015 World Cup and the Australian has been hampered by a lack of squad depth.

Scotland have won five of the last eight meetings with the Azzurri but have not come away from Rome with a victory since 2006 and the battle up front will be key.

Italy’s Alessandro Zanni, Roberto Barbieri Sergio Parisse go head-to-head with Ryan Wilson, Chris Fusaro and Johnnie Beattie at the breakdown. This battle up front will be key to the outcome, which, on paper, will be a tight affair.

Scotland are considered 8/5 outsiders, with Italy at 3/5. The draw is on offer at 21/1. We think Scotland have the capability to win this, but take them with a 6.5-point start at 4/7.

Wales v France

France should feel the full force of a Welsh backlash on Friday night. Pride has been hurt. A tactically superior Ireland left the champions dishevelled but Wales know that a victory will keep their hopes for a third successive title alive. France seek a third victory, following a fortunate win over England and a battering of Italy.

France have not beaten Wales since 2011 but the power of the French front row will fancy their chances against the Welsh front three who struggled against Ireland and Italy.

Ireland laid down the blue-print for beating Wales – kicking the leather out of the ball to nullify the Welsh attack. But Jean-Marc Doussain, who is likely to retain the kicking duties, produced a shaky display against Italy and despite their jaded display against an underrated Ireland, Wales look the bet at 4/6 to see of France (6/4).


West Ham v Southampton

Although four of the last six meetings have been drawn, Hammers lack potency up front with Andy Carroll suspended, and have won just one of their last eight vs. Saints. With Saints already safe and perhaps lacking in motivation, there is a fair argument for backing the more desperate hosts, who are just four points clear of the relegation zone and facing a tough run-in.

However, the Saints have a decent road record in the Premier League, winning three of their last six away from home (with two draws and only one defeat – a 2-1 reverse at Everton), so the visitors look a decent bet at 7/5 to take all three points at Upton Park.

Walsall v Crawley Town

John Gregory’s side are teetering on the brink of the relegation places in League One, while Walsall are on the verge of the playoff places. So how come the hosts are 1/1 and not odds-on to win this?

Simple. Crawley have not played for over a month, thanks to monsoon-like conditions deeming the Broadfield Stadium pitch unplayable. Crawley have six games in hand on Crewe, who are below them, and have six in hand of Tranmere, who are a point above them. Yet rustiness could prove a factor and the Midlands side can maintain their promotion push with a win.

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Preview: England v Ireland, RLWC2013 (Nov 2)


For 30 minutes in each half, England gave every indication that they could cause an upset in their World Cup opener against Australia at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff last Saturday.

England blew a 10-0 lead and switched off either side of half-time to concede four tries, eventually going down 20-28. But there were plenty of good signs from Steve McNamara’s team.

Given that Australia are expected to win all three of their Group games, England must now hope that they can overcome Ireland and Fiji to reach a likely semi-final with World Champions New Zealand at Wembley on November 23.

Not since 1972 – when Great Britain triumphed in France – has a northern hemisphere side secured the title. The odds say that trend will continue, as it is 4/7 that Australia meet New Zealand in the Old Trafford final on November 30.

However, if you fancy the Aussies not to win the World Cup, you can take them on at the inviting odds of 9/4.

Currently 15/2 tournament third favourites, England may well be worth a bet at 8/5 for a rematch with the Aussies in the final.

As anticipated, reigning champions New Zealand had too many guns for Samoa in their World Cup opener at Warrington, buoyed by a hat-trick of tries from Manu Vatuvei. Yet the Samoans showed the Kiwis’ vulnerability, scoring four tries in 13 minutes to leave the final score a respectable 42-24.

England had a turbulent build-up to their campaign. They were humbled in their warm-up match by Italy, saw forward Gareth Hock thrown out of the tournament for what the management deemed as “serious breaches” of team discipline, and McNamara then abruptly cut short a press conference.

Yet for all the negatives, there was a major positive on the pitch: a striking team unity was evident against Australia. Senior players in the squad were visibly disappointed that they did not beat the 14-point favourites Australia.

“It feels like we have thrown it away,” said Rangi Chase, England’s New Zealand-born stand-off. The reason for the defeat was largely down to the odd unforced error and silly penalties. They were not a million miles away from taking the biggest scalp.

Of course, Australia are known to be notoriously slow starters, so skeptics will feel England have already had their best opportunity to beat Australia – their seventh straight defeat by the Kangaroos.

Yet the cohesiveness and quality was there for long periods of the game, suggesting McNamara’s side have every chance of earning a rematch which would be a major draw and a shot in the arm for the sport in this country.

England, 15-8 to be the tournament runner-up, will be without front-row forward Sam Burgess for today’s game against Ireland after he was banned for a high tackle in last Saturday’s defeat. Canterbury Bulldogs front rower James Graham is a very capable replacement and they could also have Wigan loose forward Sean O’Loughlin back after he missed two matches after suffering an achilles injury.

Ireland, surprise packets of the 2008 RLWC, are currently 500/1 to make it to the final. 

Their 2013 campaign got off to a rocky start, however. Akuila Uate scored a hat-trick as Fiji trounced the Irish 32-14 in their opening World Cup Group A fixture at a sold-out Spotland.

MyClubBetting can claim a little reflected glory – thanks to their wonderful fans. Fiji were celebrating their 52-year association with Rochdale, forged by the influx of Fijian signings at Rochdale Hornets during the 1960’s. As part of the celebrations, MyClubBetting handed 10 pairs of tickets for the clash to rugby league legend Mike Ratu, of the Rochdale Fijian Society, to distribute to fans.

Ireland will prove a tough opponent, with Scott and Simon Grix leading the charge. They have some talented young backrowers so don’t be surprised to see the likes of Ben Currie, Tyrone McCarthy and James Hasson make an impact on the World Cup.

But this current Ireland team is not a patch on the 2008 vintage that almost reached the semi-final stage. England are massive favourites and deservedly so. Take them to cover a lofty handicap.

World Cup Outright Odds:

Australia 2/7

New Zealand 4/1

England 15/2

Samoa 100/1

Tonga 100/1

Italy 110/1

Fiji 125/1

France 150/1

Papua New Guinea 225/1

Wales 500/1

Ireland 500/1

Cook Islands 500/1

Scotland 500/1

USA 500/1