[imagesource: James Crombie/Inpho]
England will be seeking its first Six Nations title since 2017 when tournament action resumes October 24. The event was put on hiatus March 8 after the coronavirus pandemic swept across Europe.
Four matches are left to be played as the annual competition resumes Oct. 24th with Ireland playing host to Italy. There are also four nations left with a chance to earn the championship.
The Irish, with two matches left to play, can still capture the title if they were to win out. England face an away match at Italy on Oct. 31 but should do well enough to capture the bonus point against the Italians, which would put England in the driver’s seat to be Six Nations champions.
At one of the best Canadian sportsbooks, the English are odds-on -345 favourites to carry off the title.
France’s young, upstart side was unbeaten and poised to cop the title but literally fumbled their chances away by losing to Scotland in the very last match played prior to the COVID-19 shutdown of the competition.
That victory kept some very slim championship hopes alive for the Scots but they’ll need to defeat Wales in their last match and then be supplied with a magnificent amount of help on other fronts for the dream to become reality.
Let’s take a look at each of these four sides and what must fall their way for the Six Nations to belong to them.
The 32-12 losers to South Africa in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, England began the Six Nations in dubious fashion, taking a 24-17 pratfall against France in Paris.
The English have won three in a row since but none in what would be termed a resounding manner. Scotland was beaten 13-6 at Murrayfield. Then Ireland was doubled 24-12 at Twickenham. Wales also fell to England at Twickenham by a 33-30 final.
England sit atop the table on point differential over the French. If England put a thrashing on the Italians in Rome on Oct. 31 and ran in four tries to lock up the bonus point, that would make beating them for the championship a difficult challenge.
Only Ireland would be able to do so and the Irish would be required to take both their remaining matches while also securing the bonus point from each win.
On paper, the task is a straightforward one for the Irish. Win both remaining matches and grab the bonus point in each and the Six Nations title is theirs.
Gaining the bonus point at home against the Italians shouldn’t be a difficult task for Ireland. However, going to Paris and scoring four tries away to France will take some spectacular rugby from Ireland.
Supposing the Irish win both matches but get just nine of a possible 10 points by failing to secure the bonus point in Paris? They would be level with England in points. However, the English currently own a 10-digit edge over Ireland in point differential, so the Irish would really need to go on a scoring binge to overcome that deficit.
Ireland most recently won the Six Nations in 2018
Without a Six Nations title since 2010, France looked poised to end that drought. Following the shocking toppling of England, Les Bleus whipped Ireland 35-22 at home and then edged Wales 27-23 in Cardiff.
The trip to Murrayfield seemed a formality but Scotland had other ideas, smashing France 28-17.
Assuming England wins at Italy, France must match that performance at home against Ireland and defeat the Irish by a margin at least three points greater than the English victory over the Azzurri.
The Scots are like Jim Carrey’s famous line in Dumb And Dumber. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
Mathematically, yes. Realistically? No.
For Scotland to be Six Nations champions for the first time 1999 – when, by the way, the tourney was still called the Five Nations because Italy wasn’t involved yet – here’s a rundown of what must happen.
First, the Scots defeat Wales. Next, Italy must win over both Ireland and England. The Irish then need to go to Paris and play to a draw with France.
Sure, that could all happen.
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