The grand finale of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations is almost upon us.
All six Championship teams are ramping up preparations for the fifth round of action, with a winner of this year’s competition – finally – being crowned in either Paris or Rome on Super Saturday.
This year’s Championship has been unlike any other but the eagerly-anticipated resumption of rugby has finally rolled around, as Ireland beat Italy 50-17 in their postponed clash this weekend.
Attention now turns to the climax of the action, however, as team news is revealed from all six Championship nations across an intriguing Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Round Five.
Andy Farrell will be the only Guinness Six Nations boss to name his team on Wednesday, doing so at 1pm ahead of Ireland’s seismic trip to the Stade de France.
The Men in Green currently top the table on 14 points after their imperious triumph over Italy and are the only team to have their fate entirely in their own hands.
Farrell knows another bonus-point win in Paris will be enough to clinch the title but he will be without star centre Garry Ringrose, who suffered a broken jaw after colliding with Edoardo Padovani’s knee during Saturday’s game in Dublin.
Either Robbie Henshaw or Chris Farrell will line up alongside Bundee Aki in the centres, while John Cooney could also feature after being called up to the squad as a reinforcement.
Fabien Galthié will face the press at 10:30am (GMT) on Thursday to reveal his team to play Ireland.
Super Saturday is a crucial day for his France side, who know they must both topple Ireland and better England’s result in Italy in order to scoop their first title for a decade.
Les Bleus come into the contest buoyed off the back of their 38-21 triumph over Wales on Saturday, as two tries from Antoine Dupont helped fire Galthié’s men to a momentum-building victory.
Dupont will be hellbent on breaking Ireland hearts in the city of romance and looks likely to be joined by the talismanic trio of Romain Ntamack, Charles Ollivon and Gregory Alldritt in the starting XV.
Eddie Jones will name his team to face Italy in Rome half an hour after Galthié on Thursday.
England currently sit second in the table on 13 points and know they need to topple Italy, ideally with a bonus point, before relying on the result in Paris to determine their fate.
The Red Rose boss named his 36-man squad for England’s autumn matches on Monday morning and there were call-ups for Wasps stars Jacob Umaga, Dan Robson and Jack Willis, who all impressed this season and helped Lee Blackett’s men reach the Premiership final.
Will any of them find a way into Jones’ squad who travel to Rome? It would be a bold move from the England boss – and we wait with bated breath to find out.
Franco Smith will also name his Italy team on Thursday as they bid to thwart England’s hopes of the title and pick up a maiden Championship win this year.
The Azzurri have endured a torrid time of late but now have one final chance to get some points on the board – and open the door for either France or Ireland to claim the title in Paris.
Carlo Canna, Sebastian Negri and the dangerous Padovani all look set to feature once more following Italy’s disappointing showing in Dublin at the weekend.
Wayne Pivac will name his XV as Wales bid to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat against France.
He’ll have no shortage of experience at his disposal as they bid to leapfrog Gregor Townsend’s men in the standings, however, with Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau all likely to start.
Liam Williams is also back in contention after he was sent back to club side Scarlets for some much needed gametime.
Pivac will also call upon the totemic Alun Wyn Jones, who will provide one of the stories of the weekend as he makes his 149th cap and overtakes Richie McCaw as the sport’s most capped player. What an achievement.
Townsend will also name his Scotland team on Thursday as they bid to win their third match of the Championship against Pivac’s Wales.
And victory in Cardiff could be enough to haul Scotland up to a second-place finish if results in Rome and Paris work perfectly in their favour.
Scotland come into the contest with considerable momentum, having romped to an emphatic eight-try, 48-7 victory over Georgia in their warm-up fixture on Friday night.
That game marked both the return of Finn Russell and the try-scoring debut of Edinburgh wing Duhan van der Merwe. Will both be rewarded with a start at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday?