Who can win the title? What’s still to play for? Six Nations permutations

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Who can win the title? What’s still to play for? Six Nations permutations

It was another thrilling weekend in the 2024 Six Nations Championship and there is plenty still to play for at both ends of the table heading into the final round.

At the top, Ireland still lead the race to be crowned champions, but England are now firmly in the mix too following their 23-22 win at Twickenham last Saturday.

Elsewhere, Wales are battling to avoid the Wooden Spoon, Italy are aiming for their best-ever finish, and we take a look at everything which is up for grabs in this year’s last three matches on March 16 – also known as Super Saturday…

Six Nations 2024 as it stands

Team P W L D PD Points
Ireland 4 3 1 0 80 16
England 4 3 1 0 -3 12
Scotland 4 2 2 0 4 11
France 4 2 1 1 4 11
Italy 4 1 2 1 -37 7
Wales 4 0 4 0 -48 3

The battle for the title

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James Cole reflects on England’s Six Nations win over Ireland at Twickenham, labelling it the best performance of Steve Borthwick’s tenure

England’s thrilling victory over Ireland not only wrecked the reigning champions’ hopes of completing the Grand Slam, but ensured the battle for this year’s Six Nations title will go down to the final day too.

For Ireland, the equation is simple: Beat Scotland and they are champions again regardless of what England do in Lyon later in the day.

Andy Farrell’s side currently hold a four-point lead over England, so even a draw against the Scots at the Aviva Stadium would be enough to see them retain the title. Likewise, so would a losing bonus point and scoring four tries in a defeat.

A sole losing bonus point for the Irish would mean Steve Borthwick’s side need a bonus-point win over France and hope to overturn the points difference to claim the title for the first time since 2020. However, Ireland’s points difference is currently 80 and England’s is -3.

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Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says his side need to move onto the next game after losing to England at Twickenham in the Six Nations

Six Nations tiebreaker rules

1) The Union with the highest number of Match Points will be placed first and the other Unions placed in descending order according to the Match Points awarded.

2) If two or more Unions finish the Championship with the same number of Match Points, they will be placed according to the difference between the total points scored and the total points conceded on the fields of play in all matches.

3) If any such Unions also have the same points difference, they will be placed according to the number of tries (including penalty tries) scored by each Union in all matches.

4) If any such Unions have also scored the same number of tries (including penalty tries), they will be placed equally.

If Ireland lose to Scotland without gaining a bonus point, England will be crowned champions with a bonus-point win against the French. Should England fail to score four tries in this scenario, the title would be decided by points difference.

Scotland and France still have a mathematical chance of being crowned champions, but it would require a highly improbable series of events where either team must secure a bonus-point win, avoid conceding a losing bonus point, overturn a points difference of 76 to Ireland, and hope the other fails to win their respective match.

If any teams finish level on points and point difference, the title and final placing will be decided by the number of tries scored. In the event of teams having scored the same number of tries, they would be placed equally – which would mean the title being shared if two or more teams finished joint-first after tiebreakers.

Who will pick up the Wooden Spoon?

Italy have finished bottom of the Six Nations table for the past nine years but have the opportunity to secure their highest finish since taking fourth place in 2013 after a stunning 31-29 win over Scotland in Rome on Saturday.

Italy's players celebrates a try

Image: Italy have a great opportunity to end a run of nine consecutive wooden spoons

Six Nations 2024 Super Saturday fixtures

2.15pm: Wales vs Italy (Cardiff).

4.45pm: Ireland vs Scotland (Dublin).

8pm: France vs England (Lyon).

A draw against Wales in Cardiff would ensure Gonzalo Quesada’s team avoid picking up the Wooden Spoon and make it a memorable first Six Nations in charge for the former Argentina international.

France’s 45-24 victory at the Principality Stadium on Sunday saved them from the danger of finishing bottom of the table for only the second time in the Six Nations era, but Wales are now facing that prospect. Their only other Six Nations-era Wooden Spoon came in 2003 when they lost all five matches.

Warren Gatland’s team need to beat Italy to avoid a winless campaign, although only a bonus-point win and Italy failing to secure a losing bonus point would be enough to prevent them from finishing at the foot of the standings.

Any other business?

Having beaten Wales and England, Scotland still have the opportunity to complete the Triple Crown with victory over Ireland.

Duhan van der Merwe

Image: Scotland can still claim the Triple Crown

Gregor Townsend’s side have not secured a clean sweep of their Home Nations rivals since their Grand Slam success in the 1990 Five Nations.

A bonus-point win for Italy over Wales could see them finish as high as third, which would be their best performance since joining the Six Nations in 2000, but that would also require Scotland and France to slip up in their respective matches.

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