France are a cut above the rest of the Six Nations field

France can celebrate winning the Six Nations Grand Slam (Picture: World Rugby via Getty Images)

This isn’t going to go down well with anyone with even the remotest interest in this year’s Six Nations but the 2024 Championship will be done and dusted in Marseille on Friday night.

France entertain Ireland and because they are the only two countries with even the slightest chance of finishing on top of the heap the match will determine who will take the title.

It will be all over bar the shouting and the only matters to be cleared up will be whether the winners also claim a Grand Slam and who will take the wooden spoon.

France are without the extraordinary qualities of scrum-half Antoine Dupont as their influential captain is concentrating on playing Sevens rugby in a bid to take France to Olympic gold in the summer.

But Ireland are entering an era without the equally remarkable Jonny Sexton, who retired from the international stage after last year’s World Cup, while England will miss Owen Farrell, who is taking a break from Test rugby, while Courtney Lawes leads a number of regulars who have retired.

Owen Farrell is one of multiple regulars who will be missed by England

Owen Farrell is one of multiple regulars who will be missed by England (Picture: World Rugby via Getty Images)

Scotland are improving but are not as good as the French or Irish and Wales are in a right old state of upheaval with veteran players hanging up their boots, others unhappy with their levels of pay and star man and face of the future Louis Rees-Zammit making a dramatic switch to the NFL.

France were aggrieved to have lost the World Cup on home soil after beating New Zealand in the opening game of the tournament only to lose to eventual winners South Africa in the quarter-finals.

They will be hungry to show they are the best team in the northern hemisphere by some distance and are 5/4 with Betway to win the Six Nations and 5/2 with Bet Victor to win the slam, while Ireland are 5/2 with the same firm and Coral to win the Triple Crown.

Electric France wing Damien Penaud, a bulldozer of a man, is 4/1 with StarSports to run in the most tries and Ireland’s Jack Crowley, who has replaced Sexton, is 11/2 with Bet Victor to score the most points.

Italy are odds-on to finish bottom but it may be worth a small flutter for Wales to collect the wooden spoon at 9/2 with Betfred and many others.

• A new Premier League Darts season commences with world champion Luke Humphries playing Luke Littler, the teenager he beat in the stunning final at Alexandra Palace at the start of this year.

Humphries has ice running through his veins and is 3/1 with StarSports to take the title and 10/11 across the board to start his campaign by beating Littler, who may run out of steam as the weekly tournament takes it toll.

• Wolves are 17/10 with Betfair to beat Manchester United and West Ham can edge past Bournemouth at the London Stadium at 29/20 with the same firm. Stick them in a double for a 5/1 return.


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