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Six Nations 2024: Ireland title favourites & England's slim title hopes

Scene-setter
Scene-setter

The 2024 men's Six Nations is set for a thrilling finale on 'Super Saturday' with four sides still in the running to win the title.

Ireland are in pole position to retain their crown by avoiding defeat or by gaining two bonus points against Scotland in the 16:45 GMT game in Dublin.

England, who begin the weekend four points behind Ireland, need Andy Farrell's side to slip up and would then need to secure a bonus-point win in France in the final fixture at 20:00 GMT.

Scotland and France are also still in the title mix but Ireland's vastly superior points difference makes their chances of snatching the title highly unlikely.

Meanwhile, Wales will finish bottom of the table for the first time since 2003 after losing 24-21 to Italy in Cardiff.

Ireland lead the Six Nations from England, with Scotland third and France fourth
Ireland lead the Six Nations from England, with Scotland third and France fourth

Ireland to hit back after Grand Slam bid ends?

Ireland were a last-gasp Marcus Smith drop-goal away from a shot at history and a first back-to-back Grand Slam in the Six Nations era.

Their one-point defeat by England came after comfortable wins against France, Italy and Wales, which have paved the way to another title.

Ireland have beaten Scotland in their past nine meetings and have won their past 18 home games against all-comers.

Former Ireland wing Luke Fitzgerald expects his countrymen to "do the job" at the Aviva Stadium.

"The mood was difficult this week and the squad did take a little bit of flak, but I expect Ireland to bounce back." Fitzgerald told BBC Rugby Union Daily.

Scotland have displayed glimpses of brilliance in wins over Wales and England but have shown too many inconsistencies.

However, they could still leave Ireland with silverware - if the Six Nations title proves beyond them, victory would secure their first Triple Crown in the Six Nations era.

"Ireland will be wary of this Scotland team as they had a difficult weekend in Rome," added Fitzgerald. "Scotland have danger littered throughout that backline and it only takes a moment."

England prepared to seize the opportunity

England will know what is required before they take to the field against France as they look to avenge last year's record home defeat.

Ireland may already be celebrating the title by then but if the defending champions do finish their match without a single point, England can lift the trophy for the first time since 2020.

Steve Borthwick's men were thumped 53-10 by Les Bleus at Twickenham last year - a result current England captain Jamie George called one of the "darkest days" of his career.

George and his comrades have pored over the footage as they look to claim a first away win over France since they last clinched a Grand Slam in 2016.

France have been far from their fluent best without half-back generals Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack and are yet to win at home in this Six Nations.

Fabien Galthie's side beat Wales last weekend, but World Cup-winning scrum-half Matt Dawson says "England will be ready to take on the world" after overcoming Ireland.

"For England, France was and is still an enormous fixture," Dawson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Wales showed on many occasions last weekend some frailties in the way France are defending. I would expect England to really throw some fizz at them.

"There is a bigger question for France to answer. Their fans have been right behind them for a significant period of time and France need to deliver."

France can also make a late title push if Ireland finish empty-handed and they can better Scotland's margin of victory and secure a bonus point.

Statistics

  • Ireland are looking to win their sixth Six Nations - and clinch back-to-back titles for the first time since 2015

  • England are bidding for an eighth Six Nations title - and first since 2020

  • France have won the Six Nations six times - most recently in 2022

  • Scotland have never won the Six Nations - their last title came in the final Five Nations tournament in 1999