The identity of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations champions will be decided on Super Saturday as France ensured that Ireland cannot claim the Championship in Round 4.
Andy Farrell’s team, the only side still in contention for the Grand Slam, could have wrapped up the title with a bonus-point success in Edinburgh on Sunday, provided there was no five-pointer at Twickenham.
France did not just claim a bonus point, they ran in seven tries, on the way to handing England their biggest-ever Twickenham loss, which means that it will be all to play for on Super Saturday.
A day @FranceRugby and their fans won’t ever forget 🙌#ENGvFRA | #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/Dljtlv9ZA4
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 11, 2023
As it stands, Ireland still lead the way on points difference from Les Bleus, currently on +51 to their closest challengers’ +46.
Any win on Sunday will keep their destiny in their own hands, and the same is true if they draw or earn a losing bonus point.
Mathematically, England are still alive, but would need a huge victory in Ireland, as well as other results to go their way.
More realistically, Scotland know that victory over Ireland, preferably with a bonus point, would bring them back into the mix as well.
How can Ireland do it?
While Ireland cannot win the title at BT Murrayfield, a win would put them in pole position heading into Super Saturday.
Currently on 15 points, level with France, a victory over Scotland would leave them either four or five points clear of Les Bleus.
Ready for a Sunday showdown in Edinburgh! ⚔️#TeamOfUs | #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/HiHGQsKCva
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 11, 2023
The target then, would of course be the Grand Slam, but a draw or even a losing bonus point, might be enough to claim the title.
Provided they come away with something from Edinburgh, they will be top of the table heading into Super Saturday, and with a home game to come, would fancy their chances of clinching a first Guinness Six Nations title in the Andy Farrell era.
What do France need?
Now level on points with Ireland, France are hoping for a favour from Scotland tomorrow to control their own destiny.
If Scotland win and deny Ireland a bonus point, France will go into the final weekend top of the table, welcoming Wales to Paris.
💙😍 𝐋𝐄 𝐂𝐑𝐔𝐍𝐂𝐇 𝐄𝐒𝐓 𝐁𝐋𝐄𝐔 !#XVdeFrance #ANGFRA #NeFaisonsXV #SixNations pic.twitter.com/mzUgcw7KUd
— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) March 11, 2023
That would be no guarantee of success, but the margin of victory at Twickenham gives them hope once again, even if their fate is in the hands of others.
Whatever happens in Scotland, France will be looking to finish off with another impressive display against Wales, and if they can reach the 20-point barrier, they will have done everything they can to defend their title.
And what of Scotland?
No points at the Stade de France meant that Scotland’s title hopes took a major dent but they still have their destiny in their own hands.
A bonus-point success at home to Ireland is asking a lot – you have to go back to 2017 for the last time they won this fixture.
Final preparations ✅#AsOne pic.twitter.com/XZIslKaHnk
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 11, 2023
But this Scotland team have shown that they can score tries and score them quickly. If they manage four, and keep Ireland at more than seven points, then they will join their opponents and France on 15 points.
Currently 23 points behind Les Bleus on points difference, that might be asking a lot to overhaul in one go, but if they can start to close the gap, then it opens up the possibility of being right in the mix heading into Super Saturday.