France are favourites to win the 2010 Six Nations, which seems a trifle odd, considering 2009 Grand Slam winners, Ireland, have gone through 2009 unbeaten, proving in the process that they can take on the best in the world and beat them.
Under coach Declan Kidney, Ireland have blossomed into an outstanding outfit, with a world class set of players and a game that personifies a commitment to total rugby. On top of that lays the fact that their two principle club sides, Leinster and Munster are playing at the top of their games right now meaning that the Ireland players will come into the Six Nations in top form.
Ireland certainly finished 2009 as the best side in the Northern Hemisphere and is currently ranked fourth in the world behind South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. It should also be remembered that they have not tasted defeat since November 2008 when they lost at home to New Zealand.
Many argue that this is the best squad of players that Ireland have ever had, they have balance all round and boast some of the best backs anywhere in rugby. With the emergence of players such as Jonathan Sexton at Fly Half they appear to have a solid future too.
If there is a doubt about Ireland's claims to win the Six Nations for a second successive year it lays in the fact that their two away games are against France on 13 Feb and England on 27 Feb. Their away record against these two sides is not great and Kidney will know that he will have to win at least one of them if they are to win the Championship.
Most impartial rugby fans would certainly support an Ireland repeat Six Nations success particularly as it would serve as great testimony for Ireland's best player, Brian O'Driscoll. Cruelly deprived of participation on the British Lions tour of New Zealand in 2005, following an outrageous tackle by Kiwi captain Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu, the Irish captain has bounced back and was quite rightly voted the Six Nations Player of the Series last season. The biggest disappointment however for him and for rugby fans was the dreadful decision to deny him the captaincy of the latest British Lions tour to South Africa in favour of Irish teammate Paul O'Connell. For that reason alone an Ireland and O'Driscoll Six Nations triumph will be the perfect tonic and a great start to the New Year.
Find out more about the 6 nations tournament and a full preview of Ireland's chances as well as all the six nations betting ahead of the tournament.
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