The final weekend of the Six Nations is almost upon us and despite England’s apparent dominance, it is Wales who are in the best position going into the last games. After their victory over England in Cardiff in Week 3, Wales are the only unbeaten team remaining. But their last game will be against Ireland, who could snatch the tournament from under their noses under the right circumstances. Those circumstances would require England to be beaten by Scotland at home, and that will be no easy task for the visitors. Let’s take a closer look at the condition of the teams.
Italy will have the home advantage for their game against France, but with no wins to their name, they will likely once again end up at the bottom of the pile. Despite the punishing results that they have suffered during the course of this tournament, Italy have never given up or stopped fighting. England scored their first try against Italy after seven minutes last weekend; however, the Italians had responded with one of their own just five minutes later. They scored another later in the match, and while there was never any danger that they would challenge England’s dominance, if Italy can find holes in their defence, so can everyone else. Their game against France will certainly represent their best chance of getting a win during this tournament, but even that won’t save them from coming bottom of the table.
Italy to win – 57/20
Currently in joint fourth place with Scotland, France will be hoping to hold that spot if Scotland cannot prevail at Twickenham. After a shocking start to the tournament, there is some hope that the les Bleus have turned the corner and are back on an upward trajectory. For the first time in a long time, the French fielded an unchanged team for Italy ending months of selection confusion. There are also some stats that make France look so much better than the results suggest. For example, they are the number one team in the world when it comes to creating breaks from both turnovers and counter-attacking from kicks. Sadly, it’s a bit late in the day for them to improve in the tournament but they should at least beat the Italians.
France to win – 5/19
It’s been a Six Nations of discovery for Scotland. We were treated to the excellently-named Blair Kinghorn during the opening game. Now we have the powerhouse Hamish Watson, who came on as a replacement in the 65th minute against Wales and left a trail of carnage in his wake. They very nearly had Wales on their home turf, but discipline errors undid toward the end when faced with Wales’s patient play-building. There’s not a huge chance of them causing an upset at Twickenham, but it has been an encouraging year for Scotland that they should be able to build upon in the run-up to the world cup.
Scotland to win – 29/4
England should really have wrapped this whole thing up by now, were it not for Wales. They have been utterly dominant in every other game, shocking Ireland in the opener and steamrolling over France and Italy. They have accumulated enough bonus points that were it not for the fact that a Grand Slam winner gets three points automatically, they would potentially have been in a position where Wales could have won all their games and still come second to England in the table. Eddie Jones has started the mind games already, claiming that England will be looking for revenge after Scotland’s ‘overzealous celebrations’ after claiming victory last year. Manu Tuilagi and Joe Cokanasiga are in rare form, and there are hopes that we will see another huge score on Saturday.
England to win – 2/35
England have a reluctant ally in the form of Ireland heading into the games next weekend. Wales may be on an all-time record winning run of 13 straight victories, but ending all-time record winning runs is what Ireland do. They put a stop to the All Blacks’ run of 18 consecutive wins, and they’re just as good at ending Grand Slam ambitions: just ask England in 2017. However, they won’t be going into the game as full of confidence as they started the tournament. Their defeat to England in the opening game was a huge shock to everyone and they have been wary ever since. There’s even a slim chance for Ireland to win the whole thing if Scotland can pull off a shock upset, but they are too pragmatic to pin their hopes on that outcome. What Ireland need now is steady, disciplined rugby that they can use to build momentum in preparation for the trip to Japan.
Ireland to win – 11/10
The Six Nations is for Wales to win or lose. Were it not for the stipulation that a Grand Slam-winning team gets an extra three points, Wales might have found themselves winning all their games and still losing to England, as they have no bonus points at all, and England already have three. Fortunately, that rule was put in place for this exact eventuality. Things can still get complicated. For example, if Wales and England lose, Ireland can retain their title if they get a bonus point. But if Wales lose and still pick up two bonus points by scoring at least 4 tries and losing by less than 5 points, they can still win the Six Nations. We’d love to be able to tell you what would happen if Wales lose and England draw, but the science team is still working on it. Suffice to say, it’s possible that England, Scotland and Wales could all end up with 18 points under the right circumstances. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Wales to win – 20/27