Can Ireland Be Caught For The Six Nations Championship?
Since Johnny Sexton's miracle drop goal in Paris, Ireland have made the most of their second chance in the 2018 Six Nations Championship. In three games at the Aviva Stadium against Italy, Wales, and Scotland, they've scored 17 tries, picked up three bonus points, and most importantly, won all three games meaning a win over England in Twickenham next week
While that will be the focus of the players, coaches, and supporters in the coming week, the performances so far do mean that Ireland have most likely already won the Six Nations title this year, meaning it'll be a fourth title in the last 10 years, and a fourth winner's medal for four members of the current squad - captain Rory Best, Cian Healy, Keith Earls, and Rob Kearney.
It's not guaranteed, at least until the final whistle in Paris later this evening, but a lot would have to wrong for Ireland not to make history with a third title in five years.
Here is the situation:
Ireland are ten points ahead of England with a healthy points difference advantage over the old enemy.
- For England to stay alive until next weekend, they need to win and score at least four tries in Paris tonight. If they don't, Ireland will be crowned champions.
Should England manage that feat, which given Ireland's struggles in Paris, if far from a guarantee, a huge amount would still have to go their way next weekend in Twickenham.
- Firstly, England would need a bonus point win over Ireland. If they don't manage that, Ireland are champions.
- Should they complete the bonus point win, they would also need to prevent Ireland from scoring either a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points of England, or from collecting a try-scoring bonus point for themselves picking up four tries.
- Should England do all of this, they would still need to turn around a points difference of 44 points over the course of their two games. This isn't as improbably as it sounds though, should the previous scenarios all unfold. If they should beat France by 20 points tonight, for example, they would then need to beat Ireland by 13 points to win the Championship.
Simple enough really. There are lots of outs for Ireland over the next 160 minutes of rugby to be played.
While a Grand Slam is the only thing that will matter this week, and a Championship will be little consolation in the short term should they fail, the achievement of another title should not be overlooked. A fourth Six Nations title in ten years in the kind of success Irish rugby has never achieved in the 123 year history of the Championship.