England, Ireland and Wales all go into the final round of the 2015 Six Nations championship level on six points. And with France, on four points, still in with a mathematical shot at the title, it’s going to be a confusing Saturday for everyone.
So what does each contender need to do to come home with the title? Take a deep breath, it’s complicated…
England, Ireland and Wales are all on the same points. A win for one nation and a draw or a loss for the other two is easy – the winner would win the title.
But with no one side facing the other, it’s more likely that the tournament will come down to points difference.
England are currently ahead with +37 points, but Ireland are just four points behind. Wales have more to do on +12, but still are in with a shot if they post a huge total against Italy (or if the other two sides lose).
All England need to do is keep that +4 advantage over Ireland – and win their match, obviously. If they do that, they are champions.
Incidentally, if any sides finish level on points difference, then the overall winner is decided on the number of tries scored. England currently have 11 tries, Ireland have four and Wales have five.
The unknown quantity in all this is France, who still (just) have a chance to take home the Six Nations trophy despite only having won two matches thus far.
If they beat England by eight points or more and both Ireland and Wales lose, they are the champions. Told you the chances were slim.
So who should win?
England are favourites, despite arguably having the toughest tie of the round. Their points difference, attacking threat and home advantage all count in their favour, as does the famously fickle French form.
Ireland’s opponents Scotland, without a win so far, will be dreading another Wooden Spoon, but it’s hard to see the Irish falling at the final hurdle. Whether they can score enough to overturn England’s points advantage is another matter – they have only scored four tries in the whole of the tournament.
Wales have the disadvantage of playing first, meaning that everyone who comes after them will have a better idea of what they have to do. That said, if they beat Italy convincingly it could put pressure on the other teams…