The 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship reaches its final round this weekend, as Wales hunt down a Grand Slam in Paris on Saturday night.
Wayne Pivac’s side take on a French side at the Stade de France that could have challenged them for the clean sweep, but for a competition-busting Covid-19 outbreak among their squad.
England are in Dublin before that to wrap up their topsy-turvy campaign against an Ireland side that matches their record of two wins and two defeats.
Scotland and Italy kick off what should have been the final day with a battle at Murrayfield in the nether reaches of the table.
The visitors are nailed on for yet another wooden spoon, while the Scots still have their postponed fixture with France outstanding.
Six Nations 2021: Predictions for 20 March
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
The predictions for each match follow below the short preview and team news for each individual Six Nations match this coming weekend.
Scotland vs Italy
Scotland meet Italy in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday, with both sides mooching around the lower reaches of the 2021 table.
Gregor Townsend’s side pulled off a miraculous win over Auld Enemy England at Twickenham, only to be edged out by Ireland and Wales.
The postponement of their fixture with France didn’t help either, leaving them fifth in the standings despite their early promise.
Italy won’t catch them whatever happens, as their years-long search for so much as a win in the competition goes on and on.
Seven changes are the order of the day for the home side, as skipper Stuart Hogg switches to fly-half and Scott Steele makes his full debut at scrum-half.
Edoardo Padovani comes in at full-back for the Azzurri, who also hand a starting debut to Federico Mori, while Federico Ruzza and Marco Riccioni are drafted in to bolster the pack.
Scotland Starting XV: 15 Sean Maitland, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Stuart Hogg (captain), 9 Scott Steele, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 David Cherry, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Ali Price, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Chris Harris.
Italy Starting XV: 15 Edoardo Padovani; 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Federico Mori, 11 Monty Ioane; 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney; 8 Michele Lamaro, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Sebastian Negri; 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Luca Bigi (captain), 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Maxime Mbanda, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Marco Zanon.
Ireland vs England
Ireland and England bring the curtain down on their 2021 Six Nations campaigns as they clash at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
The pair have been the models of inconsistency this time around, both winning and losing two of their tournament fixtures.
Eddie Jones’ Red Rose perked up significantly to beat France at Twickenham last weekend, while the Irish edged out Scotland in Edinburgh.
Henry Slade’s midweek injury has prompted a surprise move from the Australian coach, who brings regular full-back Elliot Daly into outside centre, while last week’s debutant Max Malins continues in the 15 jersey.
Conor Murray is a welcome return at scrum-half for the hosts, while South African-born CJ Stander makes his final appearance after announcing his retirement in the week.
Ireland Starting XV: 15 Hugo Keenan; 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale; 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray; 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 CJ Stander; 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Iain Henderson; 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Jordan Larmour.
England Starting XV: 15 Max Malins, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Joe Marchant.
France vs Wales
Wales have just France left in their path on Saturday as they bid to seal the 2021 Six Nations Grand Slam in Paris.
Wayne Pivac’s side have defied the doubters to win four from four in the competition so far, with captain Alun Wyn Jones and Co dreaming of the full set.
It’s a serious case of what might have been for the French, whose own perfect start was blown apart by an outbreak of Covid-19 in the squad.
That’s left them a game behind following the postponement of their match with Scotland, before Les Bleus fell to a late Twickenham defeat against England last Saturday.
Adam Beard returns at lock for the Welsh, among those looking to set up livewire back three Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams to cause yet more havoc.
France go into their fourth match of the tournament unchanged from their fruitless trip to London a week ago.
France Starting XV: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Romain Taofifenua, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julian Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Swann Rebbadj, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Romain Ntamack, 23 Arthur Vincent.
Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (Captain), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Botham, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Uilisi Halaholo.