Ireland look primed to capture their first Six Nations title since 2018, having won a maximum of 15 points from the first three rounds, but a trip to Murrayfield for a Triple Crown decider against Scotland and a final day clash with a resurgent England may yet deny them.
For England, who haven’t beaten Ireland since 2020, the possibility of stealing a trophy that Ireland already have one hand on remains feasible.
For that to happen Steve Borthwick’s side would need both tremendous luck on their side and results elsewhere to go their way.
Six Nations 2023 table
Saturday 11 March:
- Italy vs Wales (2.15pm)
- England vs France (4.45pm)
Sunday 12 March:
- Scotland vs Ireland (3pm)
Saturday 18 March:
- Scotland vs Italy (12.30pm)
- France vs Wales (2.45pm)
- Ireland vs England (5pm)
Below i outlines the perfect scenario that would mean England take a first Six Nations title of the Borthwick era, and their first since 2020.
How England can still win the 2023 Six Nations
The Scots deny the Irish
Ireland could wrap up the title this weekend should results go their way. With a maximum of 15 points so far, if Ireland enter the final round six points ahead of Scotland, England, and France then the title is theirs – with the chance to seal a Grand Slam against England in Dublin.
If Scotland beat Ireland however, it opens the door for England to steal the title. A win for Gregor Townsend’s men – without a bonus point and simultaneously denying Ireland one being the perfect conditions – could severely dent Ireland’s chances.
Given the momentum that Scotland are riding this year, and how they almost pulled off a magnificent comeback in Paris, it’s not out of the realms of possibility that Finn Russell and co pull it off.
England take full points at HQ
If Scotland beat Ireland, it’s imperative that England beat France at Twickenham this weekend, with a bonus point – which goes without saying. Should England lose to France without a bonus point, and Ireland take even a single point against Scotland, a points difference of six will be too much for England to overcome with one match to go.
A bonus point win at HQ and a Scotland win would propel England to joint-top with Ireland, and potentially Scotland should they get a bonus point of their own against Ireland.
Historically, an England win seems likely given France haven’t beaten them at Twickenham since 2007, and Fabien Galthie’s side seem to have lost their edge somewhat this year compared to last year’s rampant Grand Slam success.
Marcus Smith‘s reintroduction to the England camp and his directness may end up crucial if England find themselves chasing a bonus point.
A final day coup in Dublin
Those situations happening would lead to a final round clash in Dublin for England, with the fairytale-like opportunity for Borthwick to win the championship on Irish soil.
If Ireland and England both enter “Super Saturday” level, an England win – bonus point or no – should be enough for the title. Even then, if Scotland enter the final day on 15 points and take another five against Italy, it could be the Scots hoisting the trophy.
Whilst the outcome seems unlikely, given it hinges on the performance of not only England, but Ireland, Scotland, and France – and Ireland have been without equal so far – England have done it before. It ultimately depends on whether or not Ireland enter the final day ahead of England by six points, if they do, England’s title hopes will be extinguished.
A title win would mirror England’s 2020 Six Nations campaign under Eddie Jones where, after losing to France on the opening weekend, four consecutive wins helped England take the title on points difference.