The 2024 Six Nations Championship reaches its penultimate round on the weekend of March 9th to 10th. With just two rounds remaining, the competition for the title is heating up.
Round 4 promises to be a pivotal weekend that could decide this year’s Championship winners.
The final two rounds will see the home nations clash as they each look to finish strongly. Every match now carries even greater significance, with bonus points and points differences likely to be decisive factors in the final standings.
This weekend’s fixtures see Italy host Scotland, England take on Ireland and Wales face France. With the tournament nearing its conclusion, the teams will be desperate to pick up wins and stay in title contention before the final round. Expect passion and drama as rivals collide across three intriguing encounters.
Round 4 is set up to be a potential Championship-deciding weekend. Don’t miss what is sure to be an unforgettable round of Six Nations rugby!
Italy vs Scotland
Italy and Scotland have played each other 36 times since their first meeting in 1996. Historically, Scotland have dominated the encounters between the two sides, winning 28 matches compared to Italy’s 8 victories.
When the teams met at Murrayfield during the 2023 Six Nations, Scotland survived a late Italian comeback to win 26-14. The Scots had raced out to a 17-0 lead before Italy fought back to 17-14, but a late penalty try secured victory for Scotland.
Scotland have an excellent recent record against Italy, winning 8 of the last 10 Six Nations meetings between the sides. Their last defeat to Italy came in 2015 when the Azzurri pulled off a famous 22-19 win in Edinburgh.
The Italians’ only two other wins over Scotland in the Six Nations came in 2007 and 2013. Despite Italy joining the Five Nations to make it the Six Nations in 2000, they had to wait until 2007 before securing their first-ever tournament victory over Scotland.
Overall, Scotland have dominated the recent head-to-head record. But Italy will enter the 2024 clash with renewed belief after showing last year they could challenge the Scots. Italy will aim to snap their long losing streak against Scotland during this year’s competition.
Italy Team News
Italy head coach Pierre Berizzi has named an experienced starting XV for their clash against Scotland. Veteran scrum-half Renzo Passuello will make his 120th Test appearance for the Azzurri this Saturday, having made his debut back in 2017.
In the forwards, prop Marco Riccioni has shaken off a calf injury to take his place in the front row. Riccioni will pack down alongside hooker Leonardo Marinelli and tighthead prop Matteo Nocera. Lock Marco Fuser is set to win his 50th cap, while Sebastian Negri returns from injury to start at number eight.
Italy will be without fly-half Paolo Garbisi who is recovering from knee surgery. Jacopo Trulla steps in at fly-half, with Juan Ignacio Brex and Montanna Ioane named as the centre partnership. The back three sees Matteo Minozzi start at fullback, with Edoardo Padovani and Pierre Bruno on the wings.
Scotland Team News
- Scotland head coach Jamie Richie has named an experienced starting XV for the clash in Rome.
- Captain Grant Gilchrist returns to the second row after missing the victory over France. The lock pairs up with Richie Gray in the engine room.
- In the back row, Hamish Watson retains the number 7 jersey while Matt Fagerson moves to number 8. Nick Haining comes into the side at blindside flanker.
- Ali Price continues at scrum-half with Finn Russell at fly-half. The duo will look to provide quick ball for the talented Scottish backs.
- In midfield, Chris Harris and Huw Jones form an experienced pairing in the centres.
- On the wing, Duhan van der Merwe is named on the left and Darcy Graham on the right. Stuart Hogg captains the side from fullback.
- Key players like Zander Fagerson, Rory Sutherland and Jonny Gray are unavailable due to injury. However, Scotland still possess a formidable pack and dangerous backs for the clash with Italy.
Italy and Scotland both have strong forward packs and real threats in the back line. Scotland’s backs have shown glimpses of brilliance in attack at times throughout the tournament, but their execution has let them down on too many occasions. Their defence has also been suspect in wide areas.
Italy’s weaknesses were exposed in a heavy defeat to Ireland last time out. Their set-piece remains a real concern, particularly at the lineout, and they continue to concede too many penalties through indisciplined play. However, despite lacking a cutting edge, Italy’s defence has shown resilience for long periods and their effort can never be faulted.
Scotland’s superior quality should prove decisive in the end if they cut out the silly errors. But Italy are no pushovers on home soil, as they showed in pushing the Irish all the way in Rome last year. If Scotland start slowly again, Italy will sense another famous win is on the cards at the Stadio Olimpico.
Predicted Outcome: Scotland to win by 7 points.
England v Ireland
England will take on Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 9th March during the penultimate round of the 2024 Six Nations Championship.
Ireland sealed a Grand Slam with their 29-16 victory over England during the 2023 Championship.
England and Ireland have contested 141 rugby test matches since their first meeting in 1875. England have won 80 of those matches, whilst Ireland have won 53 matches. There have also been eight drawn matches between the two nations.
Some notable previous results:
- In the last 5 meetings between the teams, Ireland have won 3 matches compared to England’s 2 wins.
- Ireland’s 29-16 win at Twickenham during the 2023 Six Nations denied England the Triple Crown.
- England’s best recent win was a dominant 24-12 victory at Twickenham during the 2021 Six Nations.
- Ireland’s most comprehensive win was their 57-15 thrashing of England at Twickenham during the 2018 Six Nations.
- The teams played out a dramatic 21-21 draw during the 2019 Six Nations at the Aviva Stadium.
With a stacked recent record and coming off a Grand Slam win, Ireland will enter the match as firm favorites. However, England will be determined to overturn recent history and regain the upper hand at their Twickenham fortress. This sets up an intriguing and highly anticipated clash between two old rivals.
England Team News
England coach Eddie Jones is expected to name a strong squad to face Ireland. Key players to watch include captain Owen Farrell, who has been in excellent form for Saracens this season. Farrell’s leadership and playmaking abilities will be crucial if England are to get a result against the Irish.
In the backs, veteran fullback Mike Brown provides reliability at the back, while Jonny May and Anthony Watson bring pace and finishing on the wings. Henry Slade has forged an effective midfield partnership with Farrell.
Up front, Maro Itoje and George Kruis will look to dominate the lineout and breakdowns. The Vunipola brothers, Mako and Billy, will add power in the scrum and loose forwards. Jamie George has been in great form at hooker.
Jones has some tough selection decisions in key positions. Danny Care and Ben Youngs are competing for the scrumhalf spot, while Jonathan Joseph, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Te’o are all in contention at outside centre. In the back row, Sam Underhill and Mark Wilson are pushing hard for starting spots.
England are hampered by injuries in some positions. Long term absentees Joe Launchbury and Sam Simmonds are ruled out. Number eight Nathan Hughes is also sidelined. Key decision maker Jones may opt for a 6-2 forwards/backs split on the bench to provide extra grunt up front against the Irish pack.
Overall England are confident they have the depth and talent to beat an Irish side on a roll after winning the last two Six Nations titles. Twickenham will be a cauldron of noise urging England on to avenge their defeat in Dublin from last year.
Ireland Team News
Ireland are expected to name a strong side to take on England at Twickenham. Fly-half Johnny Sexton has recovered from the leg injury he sustained against Italy in Round 3 and has been passed fit to start. Hooker Ronan Kelleher has also shaken off a shoulder knock and his return will boost the Irish pack.
However, Ireland will be without influential number 8 Caelan Doris, who is ruled out with a concussion. Doris was excellent during the 2023 Six Nations, forming a formidable back row partnership with Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan. His absence is a big blow for head coach Andy Farrell. Exeter Chiefs star Jack O’Donoghue is likely to come into the starting XV at number 8.
Ireland come into this match in excellent form having already beaten Wales and France in this year’s Six Nations. Key to their success has been the performances of half-back pairing Sexton and scrum-half Jamison Gibson Park. If Sexton can guide the Irish backs once again, they will pose a big threat to England. Ireland’s tight five also looks formidable with Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong in the front row. Locks James Ryan and Iain Henderson excel at disrupting opposition lineouts.
England vs Ireland is always a huge fixture and Andy Farrell’s side will be determined to secure back-to-back victories at Twickenham following their Grand Slam heroics last year. Ireland have an excellent recent record against England, having won four of their last five Six Nations encounters. If their pack can get on top and their key players perform, Ireland should have too much quality for England.
Both Italy and Scotland will be looking to finish the 2024 Six Nations on a high note with a victory in Rome.
Italy have struggled throughout the championship, with their only win coming against Wales in round 2. Their campaign has been hampered by injuries, with star number 8 Sergio Parisse ruled out. The Azzurri have been competitive in patches but have lacked the firepower and creativity to regularly trouble opposition defenses.
Scotland have shown signs of improvement under new coach Gregor Townsend. They have emerged victorious in two of their four matches so far, beating France and Wales. However, the Scots were soundly beaten by England and narrowly lost to Ireland. Fly-half Finn Russell has been in inspired form, marshaling the backline with skill and vision. But Scotland’s pack has struggled at times, conceding too many penalties.
This match will likely come down to the battle up front. If Scotland’s forwards can provide go-forward ball and minimize mistakes, they should have too much flair in the backs for Italy. Russell and wing Duhan van der Merwe could have a field day against Italy’s porous defense.
However, Italy are always fired up for home matches in Rome. If talismanic captain Luca Bigi can lead from the front, the Azzurri might be able to outmuscle Scotland up front. Much will depend on the performances of veteran props Andrea Lovotti and Simone Ferrari.
But Scotland just seem to have a bit too much quality across the park. Their attack should prove the difference, with Scotland to edge a close contest by 7 points.
Wales vs France
Wales will host France at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Sunday, March 10th during the 2024 Six Nations Championship. This will be a crucial match between two strong teams vying for the championship title.
Wales and France have a long history of competing against each other in rugby. Their rivalry dates back to 1908 when they played their first test match. Since then, they have faced each other 103 times. Wales has the edge historically, having won 51 matches compared to France’s 49 wins. There have also been 3 draws between the teams.
In recent years, matches between Wales and France have been closely contested. During the 2023 Six Nations, France emerged victorious by a score of 41-28. France scored 5 tries in that match while preventing Wales from ever taking control. The year before in 2022, Wales managed to defeat France 13-9 in Cardiff. That was a defensive battle ultimately decided by Wales’ resolute goal-line stands.
With the championship potentially on the line, both teams will be highly motivated for this 2024 match. Fans can expect a thrilling contest between two Six Nations heavyweights. Wales will try to leverage their home field advantage, but France’s skill and athleticism makes them formidable opponents. This long-time rivalry should add even more drama and intensity to what promises to be an epic match.Sources Six Nations Guide