Ireland play France this weekend in the penultimate round of the 2019 Six Nations Championship but can they still win the title on St. Patrick’s weekend?
The destination of the title is in Welsh hands, yet Ireland have plenty to play for when France visit the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this Sunday in a must-win-game.
Wales have played and won all three games thus far leaving them as the only side in the hunt for the Grand Slam.
However, England remain the bookie’s favorites to win the Six Nations title even though they trail leaders Wales by two points.
Wales have failed to chalk up a bonus point and face two tough fixtures away to the Scotland tomorrow and at home to Ireland on March 16.
Having lost to England in the opening round, Ireland remain with an outside chance of retaining their crown after back to back victories over Scotland and Italy.
How Can Ireland win the Six Nations?
Wales currently top the table on 12 points and a win against Scotland (who are out of the tournament) will put Wales on 16 points as a win earns victors four match points.
However, match winners are awarded one bonus point if they score four or more tries so they could potentially win five points, putting Wales on 17 points.
No match points are given to a losing side, however, if a losing side scores four tries or more in the process or loses by a margin of seven points or fewer, one match point is awarded.
If that side scores four tries or more in the process and loses by a margin of seven points or fewer, two match points are awarded.
If Wales win with a bonus point all would not be lost for Ireland as they have the potential to win five points versus France putting Ireland on 14 points.
England face bottom side Italy at home Saturday and are widely expected to take five points from that game putting England on 15 points heading into the last round of games.
Should England and Wales both win bonus points this weekend, for Ireland to win the championship they would have to beat Wales at home on Saturday, March 16 and hope Scotland can beat England at Twickenham on the same day.
Unfortunately, the Scots haven’t won at Twickenham since 1983 and while Ireland have beaten Les Bleus five of their last six clashes, they have all been close encounters.
Only the 24-9 win over France at the 2015 World Cup could be counted as resounding.
To get five points Sunday, Ireland need to win and score at least four tries in the process, this has only happened three times over 97 Test match encounters and the last time it occurred was in 1913 when Ireland ran in six during their 24-0 win at the Mardyke in Cork.
With England facing the two bottom sides you can see how their path to the title is a lot easier on paper.
Regardless of how England and Wales play out on Saturday, the France game is a must win for Ireland should they stand any chance of retaining their crown.
Further, after an underwhelming start to the year, an emphatic victory over “Les Bleus” would breathe new life into not only Ireland’s campaign but more importantly their year, as the World Cup in Japan looms ever closer.
When is it on?
Kick-off is at 10am EST (3PM GMT) Sunday morning
Where is it on?
Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
How can I watch it?
For US viewers the game will be live on NBC Sports Gold
For Irish viewers, the game is on Virgin Media One (coverage starting at 2pm GMT) and on ITV (coverage 2.15pm GMT).
This article first appeared in IrishCentral.com on March 8th, 2019. To view the original version, click here.