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Stephen Ferris: France to rout Italy but Ireland to win tournament

| 05.02.2022

Ladbrokes ambassador Stephen Ferris relishes the return of the Six Nations this weekend as he previews Sunday’s match between tournament favourites France and Italy. 

Les Bleus are 1/100 to win in Paris, while the visitors are 25/1 to cause a massive shock.

For more Six Nations content, check out Stephen’s thoughts on Ireland v Wales and Scotland v England.

France v Italy (Sunday, 3.00, ITV)

After a good night’s sleep you can wake up on Sunday and look forward to France taking on Italy, the 6/4 favourites for the competition against the 1000/1 long shots. I think we all know that the result in this fixture can nearly be taken for granted, so it’s  just a question of how many points France will win by.

Italy have a new head coach in Kieran Crowley. The Kiwi is trying to bring belief to his team, just like he did with his Benetton Treviso team last year when they shocked everyone and won the Rainbow Cup.

However, this isn’t a stop-gap domestic competition, this is regarded as one of the toughest competitions in world rugby. Italy can have all the belief they want but when you don’t have strength in numbers then you really are going to struggle at times.

Expect Italy to dig in and frustrate their opposition. Expect them to bring ferocious physicality in the early parts of each game that they play. Expect them to make progress under their new coach. But also expect them to finish bottom of the Six Nations table in seven weeks’ time.

The last word here has to go to Les Bleus. Yes, they are favourites for the championship and now it’s time they step up their game and show us all why they have this tag.

They start with two home games in Italy and Ireland in which they could find some real momentum if things go to plan.

Their defence coach Sean Edwards has brought an organised edge which has been missing for years with France. With the quality and level of rugby athletes France have produced over the last decade you would expect at least one or two Six Nations titles in the trophy cabinet.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been a Six Nations triumph for France since 2010. Some would say that’s a travesty for a country with so much rugby talent. So is 2022 the year for France to shine? The bookies think so, but I’m not so sure. Ireland seem to peak a year out from a rugby World Cup so they are my pick for this year’s championship. Enjoy the Six Nations Championship everyone. It’s sure to be a cracker, again.

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Warren Barner