Wales will not be presented with a trophy if they win the Six Nations on Saturday. Instead, they will have to wait until the following day when they return to Cardiff from Rome to receive what is a new piece of silverware this season.
The Six Nations committee has only commissioned one replica trophy and that will be at Murrayfield where second-placed Ireland take on Scotland. The trophy itself will be at Twickenham, where the leaders England face France. Wales, who are in third position with an inferior points difference to the top two, would receive only players' medals if they defeated Italy by a sufficient margin to deliver a third title in four years.
A spokesperson for the Six Nations said the decision on where to send the trophy and its replica had been based on points difference. England, on +37, and Ireland, on +33, were ahead of Wales, +12.
“If England win the title, the presentation will be made on the pitch. If Ireland retain it, they will receive it on the pitch at Murrayfield but after the fans have left.
“If Wales win, the players would receive their medals at the post-match dinner in Rome and we would organise a presentation for the following day when they return home,” the spokesman said.
“We felt we had to send the trophies to the grounds where the teams with the highest points differences were playing.”
The decision will give Wales extra motivation at the Olympic Stadium in the first of Saturday’s three staggered kick-offs. Their victory over Ireland blew the title race open, and even France (+22) are not out of contention: if the matches in Rome and Edinburgh go the way of the home sides, they would need to defeat England by at least eight points to win the title.
Wales will be without the tighthead prop, Samson Lee, who suffered a suspected ruptured achilles tendon 14 minutes into the victory over Ireland. He saw a specialist in London on Monday and is facing a six-month lay-off if he requires surgery, which would not rule him out of the World Cup. Lee's prop partner, Gethin Jenkins, is being assessed after suffering a hamstring strain, while the hooker, Richard Hibbard, is going through the concussion return-to-play protocols.
Two Premiership props, Exeter's Tomas Francis and Saracens' Rhys Gill, are training this week and set to be added to the squad.
Even though Lee is facing months out of action, Wales have no plans to ask prop Adam Jones, who was part of three grand slam campaigns and a Lions Test, to come out of international retirement. Jones said he would be concentrating on regional rugby after being left out of the Six Nations squad.
“I have his number but there is no need to call him,” said the Wales forwards coach, Robin McBryde. “We have enough strength in depth and he has announced his international retirement. It was his decision but we would be open to a call from him.”
Wales have not lost to Italy since Warren Gatland took over as head coach at the end of 2006, but neither have they won in Rome by the margin they will need to make Ireland and England have to win on Saturday.
“We know it is not going to be easy against Italy, who are wounded after their defeat to France on Sunday,” McBryde said. “They are generally in matches after 55-60 minutes and we have to focus simply on getting a result. We are not in control of what happens after that, so there is no point in thinking about points difference.”