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The 2023 Six Nations has been a fantastic tournament with rugby fans across the globe hooked to the action since February 4th. But as with all good things, it must come to an end this coming Saturday (March 18th) with Ireland vs England bringing the curtain down on the championship at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin at 17:00 GMT.
As ever, all three games on Saturday are important, but it is the clash between Ireland and England which will have the biggest impact on the final 2023 Six Nations finishing positions. Indeed, with the other two final-day-fixtures taking place before the action begins in Dublin, Ireland will know exactly what they need to do to secure the Six Nations. Read on as we go through all Six Nations permutations and explore how can Ireland win this year’s Six Nations.
So Far So Good For Ireland
It is fair to say that Ireland have been unstoppable across their first four games of the 2023 Six Nations. They come into this Saturday’s game against England with the possibility of the Triple Crown and the Grand Slam still on the table!
Let’s remind ourselves of exactly how Ireland have played and their results up to this stage.
Winning in Wales
Ireland got off to a perfect start in Round 1 in Cardiff where they scored three tries in the first half at the Millenium Stadium. They eventually ran out as 34-10 winners with the crushing victory sending a message to all the other teams in the Six Nations that Ireland were ready to live up to their world number one ranking.
Beating the Reigning Champions
In Round 2, Ireland welcomed the 2022 Six Nations Champions to Dublin and again recorded three tries before the end of the first half. Playing in front of over 50,000 supporters, the hosts registered their 13th consecutive home win and ended France’s 14 match unbeaten run at the same time. The 32-19 win showed once more the power of this Irish side.
Another Win in Rome
With only one previous defeat to Italy in the Six Nations, it was no surprise to see Ireland return from Rome with a convincing 34-20 win in Round 3.
An 80th Six Nations Victory
Ireland became the first side in Six Nations history to bring up their 80th win in the tournament with a 22-7 victory in Edinburgh in Round 4. After winning their first two matches of the campaign, Scotland were by no means a pushover and came into the game still believing that they could win the championship.
Ireland Six Nations Chances: The Grand Slam and Triple Crown Within Reach
In spite of Ireland’s dominance in the tournament so far, they still have work to do in the final round of fixtures to secure the 2023 Six Nations title. However, the permutations are not too complicated so let’s explore the possible outcomes and Six Nations scenarios
By the time the Ireland vs England game kicks off in Dublin on Saturday evening, the Scotland vs Italy and France vs Wales games will have completed. Third placed Scotland are nine points behind Italy so that result is academic, an expected victory for Scotland will not see them catch Ireland on 19 points.
However, a victory for France will see them pick up an additional four points which would see them go level with Ireland. Furthermore, the French are expected to produce a big win, and if they score four or more tries then they will get a bonus point which would put them one point above Ireland at the top of the table. But if they win without a bonus point, then it opens up the possibility of both teams ending the tournament on 19 points. If that happens then points difference will be used to separate the sides – currently Ireland’s points difference is +66 with France on +46.
So, all eyes on Saturday afternoon will be on Paris! If France do not win then the Ireland vs England game will be one big party in Dublin.
Triple Crown – Can Ireland Secure Bragging Rights in the UK
It is not just the Six Nations title up for grabs for Ireland on Saturday. A win over England will see Ireland secure the Triple Crown (beating the other three home nations – England, Scotland and Wales) for the second successive year. Considering England were beaten 53-10 at home by France in Round 4, most pundits consider this to be a relatively easy crown for Ireland to secure!
Grand Slam – Another Unique Feat One Step Away
Winning the Six Nations is one thing, but securing it with the Grand Slam (winning all five fixtures) is another thing. France achieved it in 2022 and Ireland will be going all out to do the same on Saturday. The Irish have won the Grand Slam twice previously since the advent of the Six Nations (2009, 2018) and only once before that (1948). If Ireland secure the victory against England then they will move above Scotland, but will still be six Grand Slams behind France who are in third place on the list of all-time Grand Slams.