So far so reasonably predictable except that I thought England would beat France in Paris. But history tells us that home advantage is a huge indicator except where Italy are concerned. Things look finely poised for the championship at the moment but I suspect that on the final weekend it will come down to the result of the Ireland/France match. Here’s what I think will happen. Wales will beat France in Cardiff and England will beat Ireland in Twickenham. Forget Scotland and Italy - they’ve both lost two matches and so are out of it. Scotland may eke out a result in Italy. These round 3 results could mean that four teams are on 9 points so the odd bonus point here or there could be vital in the final analysis. In the next round England will beat a declining Wales and Ireland will obviously beat Italy. France and Scotland is hard to call but I’ll give the nod to Scotland. That means that coming into the final weekend it’s between Ireland and England for the championship – both could have between 13 and 15 points. It’s hard to see England put 4 tries on either Ireland or Wales so an Ireland losing bonus point against England would be crucial. It would mean that before the final round England have 13 points and Ireland 15 (I’m giving us 5 points against Italy in the previous round) England will probably get a winning bonus point in its final match against Italy but a mere win will suffice for Ireland (if we get those two aforementioned bonuses points). Now a win away to France is hardly a foregone conclusion but they will have nothing to play for and may play a young team with an eye on the future. So the most crucial factor in all this is to avoid losing by more that 7 points against England. Winning of course means that the Grand Slam is firmly on the agenda. A fly in this ointment may be England getting 4 tries against Wales – not impossible. This could mean points difference comes into play. So we may need a very big score against Italy. I’d risk a few bob on Ireland at this stage.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra.