Whilst many may have forgotten the annual Six nations is set to conclude what is the longest tournament of its kind in history. When Wales kicked off against Italy on the 1st of February no-one could have forecasted the possibility that by October the tournament would still not have reached completion. Yet, as it stands, 4 more matches are still to be played in what looks to be a close knit race for the Six Nations trophy.
Whilst no one can win the 'grand slam' there are a number of teams with 'momentum', take into account the 8 month break, into these final matches.
England were initially left stumped by their lethargic defeat 24-17 to France in their opening match, however England are notorious for losing early on in the tournament and improving as it continues. Consecutive wins against Scotland (13-6), Ireland (24-12) and Wales (33-30) leave the world cup finalists in the lead. However, England are only first on points, with France licking their lips at the potential of a first six nations win in over a decade. England's final game however, isa against Italy, who aren't exactly title contenders, having lost all of their matches so far England will feel they can score a 50-60 point game over Italy to push the title within grasp of the French or Irish. The form of winger Jonny may will also be key to England's potential triumph with 2 tries to his name so far. Although European and Heineken cup finals mean the majority of the England squad cannot train for the next couple weeks with Eddie jones naming 12 uncapped players in the three day training squad. The likelihood of this destabilising the English pursuit of the title is small but England must beware as often it has been their own complacency that has cost them dearly over the last couple years, (world cup final, cough..cough).
Key Player: Tom Curry
France have been consistently strong the past few years in the six nations and this year could still be their time. Unfortunately their final match comes against title rivals Ireland who will be just as hungry to claim the title after four years without one. France have beaten Wales (27-23) and England (24-17) and therefore have demonstrated they can cause seismic upsets. I wouldn't be surprised if France beat Ireland on the 31st October but by a significant margin-i don't think so. The form of Charles Ollivon will hope to inspire France to victory with the current most tries and trie assists, 4 and 4 from just four matches.
Key Player: Charles Ollivon
The Scottish story of the Six nations is a 'close but no cigar' case. Having narrowly lost to both England-(6-13) and Ireland-(12-19), their chances of a shock six nations title have sadly gone. However, their surprise win over France has supported both England and Ireland's chances in claiming the title. Whilst that may not appease angry Scottish fans they can take great pride and comfort in what was a smart and clinical performance against France. Scotland's stock is on the rise and the likelihood is next year, if the Covid-19 doesn't have its way, they will be challenging strongly for the title. So whilst Wales v Scotland may be a dire dead rubber, the dangerous trio of Hogg, Russell and Price are likely to make it otherwise.
Key Player: Ali Price
Ireland are still well in with a shout to win the six nations. With two games to decide their fate, Ireland will take on a deflated Italian team before gearing up for what could be a title deciding final match against France. However, the usually brilliant Jonny Sexton has not been at his best scoring only 23 points, half of Dan Biggar's 47 points, all be it with a game in hand. Nevertheless Sexton missed multiple kicks against both Wales and Scotland with some over-kicking against England as-well. Ireland will hope the 8 month break came at a good time for Sexton and that he can carry his club form into the international stage in what will be a must win game against France. Whilst Ireland can overtake England with an expected win over Ireland, the French form will likely be too much for clovers, ending their title hopes
Key player: CJ Stander
Wales would most likely wish they didn't have to play their final game in what has been an underwhelming six nations campaign. Losing three of their four games a second to last place beckons as Wales will need to gather themselves one last time to take on Scotland in what could be a dire mid-table affair. Whilst injuries have not been kind to wales poor first half performances against England (lost 30-33) and France (lost 27-23) have cost them dearly. Wales have frequently left it too late in matches often coming close losing by a margin smaller than 4 points twice. The form of Dan Biggar the only consolation Wales will look to avoid a fourth defeat, however the form of Scotland will likely be too much for the red dragons.
Key player: Dan Biggar
With no Sergio Parisse and a tired Italian side facing both title contenders in the form of Ireland and England, the less said about Italy the better...
Key Player: Jake Polledri
1) England (Won on PD)