Permutations in final as Ireland, England and France chase Six Nations glory

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The 2020 Guinness Six Nations Championship will peak on Saturday – 237 days after being shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.With three games remaining on the so-called ‘Super Saturday’ it promises to be an exciting title race between Ireland, England and France.

Here, the PA news agency examines how things might turn out, with Wales entertaining Scotland, England visiting Italy and Ireland visiting France.

Ireland

Ireland is in control of the fate of the title. If they beat France in Paris on Saturday night with a bonus point, Andy Farrell’s team will be crowned champions. A four-try no-bonus win might still be enough, although – as expected – England claim five points against Italy in Rome. Tied teams are separated by a point difference, and Ireland are currently 23 points better off than England in this department. Ireland will also know exactly what to do, with the Stade de France meeting being the last game on Saturday.

England

Eddie Jones’ men have to see Italy at Stadio Olimpico categorically, but that’s a likely scenario, given that England have beaten the Azzurri in the previous 26 encounters and scored over 1,000 points. Realistically, England could demand something like a 40-point or greater margin of victory, but it’s something they’ve achieved six times in the Championship’s 20-year history. All England can do is complete their share of the work done in pursuit of a first Six Nations title since 2017, then wait for France and Ireland to face off in Paris.

France

France head coach Fabien Galthie (Adam Davy / PA)

France was revitalized under new head coach Fabien Galthie, beating England and then Wales in Cardiff as they took three wins in their first four starts of this season’s Six Nations. Losing to Scotland the last time around, however, reduced their title chances. They warmed up for Ireland by easily seeing Wales in a friendly last weekend, but they will indeed need a full bonus point win for the England Day gatecrash, if Les Blues toppled Ireland for just the second time in the country’s last seven league games.

Scotland

Scotland’s distant title hopes have faded with Ireland’s bonus points victory over Italy three days ago, but they will travel to Llanelli for a date with Wales in an atmosphere confident. They enter the game after easily seeing Georgia in a friendly last week, and will be reinforced by the return of two-time trophy-winning stars from Exeter Chiefs, Stuart Hogg, Jonny Gray and Sam Skinner. Scotland haven’t won an away win over Wales in 18 years, but they have every chance this weekend.

Wales

Wayne Pivac’s Wales suffered four successive defeats (Adam Davy / PA)

Wales, who were Grand Slam champions last year at the helm of head coach Warren Gatland’s last season, suffered a fourth straight loss, falling 38-21 to friendly opponents France three days ago. It’s their worst result streak since 2016, and while they can’t fight for the Six Nations title, a win is essential on Saturday not to lose momentum under head coach Wayne Pivac. Wales are certainly good enough to beat any opponent, but the pressure is on.

Italy

Italy struggled again
Italy struggled again (Brian Lawless / Pool via AP)

Italy are resigned to finishing bottom of the Six Nations for a 15th time, and continue to make little progress against their rivals in the Six Nations. They have conceded 144 points and 20 tries in this season’s tournament and face a Herculean task to prevent a crushing defeat when England arrive in Rome this weekend. With each major defeat in Italy, the debate over promotion and relegation of the Six Nations screams louder at them.



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