So. Here it is, the final weekend. And it is still all to play for (relatively speaking). All of Wales, England and Ireland can theoretically take the title, but what of the others? What have they to play for? And tell me, just what are the chances? Well, it’s funny you should ask…
Below is the table as it stands.
With a maximum of 5 points available for a win, it is pretty clear what is possible. All of Wales, England and Ireland can win the title. Scotland and France are battling for 4th place, with Italy doomed to finish 6th whatever happens. So what’s likely to go down?
Well, here is the way our computer algorithm sees the way the weekend going:
Wales are predicted to beat Ireland and take the Grand Slam (just). England are predicted to beat Scotland easily at home with France also seeing off the Italians in Rome. This would leave the table as shown below.
Wales take the Grand Slam, for the third time under Gatland’s reign. England then take second place ahead of Ireland, with France’s win taking them above Scotland. Italy are not predicted to gain even a single bonus point. (Last year the Italians managed a losing bonus point in their final game against Scotland, this point being the only one they have gained in the past four tournaments.)
Well, sadly, the Algorithm isn’t all powerful, clearly we’ve got some wrong so far. So what if this doesn’t come to pass? What else could happen? And what are the chances of that happening?
Well here are the probabilities that the Algorithm has assigned to each team finishing in each position. There are not too many permutations this year, so we’ll try to cover off as many as possible.
Wales are most likely to win, as can be seen above. The Algorithm gives them a 53% chance of them winning the title, with their route almost exclusively coming through a Grand Slam. Wales could also win the title if they draw with Ireland and Scotland win or, in the very unlikely situation where they (1) lose, (2) score four tries, (3) gain a losing bonus point, (4) Ireland fail to score four tries and (5) Scotland beat England. However, we think these situations are very unlikely to happen, and are happy to say that Wales need to beat Ireland to win the title.
England, clearly, need Wales to lose. If Wales lose, Ireland would end up on 18 points (England are currently on 15 points). Therefore, any English win over Scotland would see them take the title. We give England an almost 90% chance of beating Scotland, but it could arguably be higher with the list of Scottish injuries. England, therefore, are very likely to take the title should Wales lose. The below shows a possible finishing table should England and Ireland win their matches.
Ireland round out the chances. For them to take the title, they must beat Wales in Cardiff, and then hope the Scots do them a favour in Twickenham. Should Scotland triumph (for the first time since 1983) then Ireland would successfully defend their Six Nations title. The below shows a possible table should this happen.
Any of those teams can finish first to third, but no lower. None can be caught by Scotland or France in any circumstances. Interestingly, due to the bonus point system, Wales are more likely to finish third than second, given they are yet to collect a bonus point. Should they lose to Ireland, they will be leapfrogged by the Irish, and will have to hope that Scotland beat England in order to finish second.
Scotland and France cannot catch the top 3, so the best either can hope for is a fourth placed finish. France are much more likely to occupy this position given they play Italy in Rome and Scotland play England in Twickenham. We give France a 95% chance of taking fourth place.
Should both win, then clearly bonus points will be important. If one side gains a bonus point and the other doesn’t that side will take fourth. Scotland have a 16 point points difference advantage over France however, so should the stars align and both win with equal points they have a reasonable chance of retaining their fourth placed position.
Italy, as mentioned earlier, can only finish sixth, given they are six points behind with only five available. Sadly for the Italians, this is the fourth time in a row they will have finished sixth. The last time they finished above this was in 2015 when a win over Scotland elevated them into fifth.
So there you have it! Simple really. If we’ve got anything wrong please shout out and we’ll update. We’ll also update as the weekend progresses on all the various social media outlets, so be sure to follow to get the latest updates. Enjoy the weekend everyone!