Permutations: How Ireland can become Six Nations champions this weekend
Ireland have made an imperious start to the 2023 Guinness Six Nations and remain the only unbeaten side after three rounds of thrilling action.
Andy Farrell’s side are targeting a first Championship title since 2018, with the potential chance to seal a Grand Slam against England in Dublin.
They will have to beat Scotland in Edinburgh first, however, and could even have the Championship secured should results go their way. Here’s how they can do it.
Ireland take bonus point win in Edinburgh
A key part of this permutation is that Ireland must beat Scotland at BT Murrayfield. Without that happening, any chance of Ireland sealing the Championship will have to wait until Round 5.
Ireland currently sit on a maximum 15 points so far, five ahead of Scotland who took full points from wins against England and Wales before Gael Fickou’s late try denied them a losing bonus against France.
A bonus point win for Andy Farrell’s men would put them eight, nine or ten points ahead of Scotland, depending on any losing bonus points, meaning Scotland would be unable to usurp Ireland on the final day.
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England and France fail to take bonus point win
However, that is just one part of the equation. Also on 10 points are both England and France, who face each other at Twickenham in Round 4.
That means Ireland need to be at least a six points ahead of both sides, as well as Scotland, in order to be crowned champions by the end of the penultimate set of fixtures.
A bonus point win for either side would keep them within five points of Ireland, meaning the Championship would head to the final day.
However, should either side win but fail to earn a bonus point, then Ireland would sit six points clear with a bonus-point win over Scotland, and subsequently have an unassailable lead at the top to take the title.
Ireland win without a bonus point
Much of Ireland’s hopes of wrapping up the Championship early hinge on taking all five points home from Edinburgh, but there is still a small possibility of doing it with just a regular win.
Four points would put Ireland on 19 points, meaning a draw between England and France would be enough to hand Ireland a first Championship in six years.
Even if both England and France run in four tries each, three points apiece would still only leave both of them on 13 points, six behind Ireland and subsequently sending the trophy on its way to Dublin.
Draws in both games
The only other permutation, and the remotest of all, is if Ireland draw with Scotland but secure a bonus point with four tries and Scotland do not earn a bonus point.
This would also require a draw between England and France with neither side earning a bonus point, to leave Ireland on 18 points and all three other sides on 12.
Whatever happens, it is sure to be another enthralling weekend of action but perhaps have a calculator to hand to keep up with it all.