Six Nations: Ireland v England - Kick-off time, TV details, team news and more

Wales are chasing the Grand Slam in Paris as Andy Farrell’s side look to finish with a bang

Robbie Henshaw has been arguably Ireland’s player of the Championship. Photograph:Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Robbie Henshaw has been arguably Ireland’s player of the Championship. Photograph:Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

The Six Nations Championship comes to an end this weekend, and for the first time since 2017 Ireland head into the final round of fixtures with nothing to play for - on paper at least.

Only Wales or France can now be crowned champions, with Ireland and England - both having lost twice during the campaign - playing for place money.

But while there is no silverware on the line, should Andy Farrell’s team win on Saturday it would turn a poor Six Nations into an acceptable one, increasing faith in his leadership in the process.

After a tough start to 2021, which began with narrow defeats to Wales and France, fortunes have changed for Ireland since, as they followed a rout of Italy with a hard-fought win over Scotland.

But this is the acid test. Recent meetings with the English have seen Ireland repeatedly outmuscled and outmatched physically - they might need to have a few tricks up their sleeve to avoid more of the same.

Elsewhere on the final weekend Italy travel to Edinburgh hoping to avoid another heavy defeat and their worst Championship performance ever.

And in the final act Wales can clinch the Grand Slam with victory over France in Paris. Should Les Bleus win we could have to wait until their postponed fixture with the Scots is played to find out who will be champions.

Here is everything you need to know as the 2021 Six Nations (almost) reaches its grand finale!

Maro Itoje was England’s match winner against France. Photograph: Adam Davy/Pool/AFP
Maro Itoje was England’s match winner against France. Photograph: Adam Davy/Pool/AFP

What is it?

The final round of the 2021 Six Nations Championship, including Ireland’s clash with England at the Aviva Stadium.

When is it?

All three fixtures will be played back-to-back on Saturday March 20th - Ireland are the middle act, kicking off at 4.45pm in Dublin.

What are the fixtures and results?

Round one
Saturday February 6th - Italy 10 France 50, Rome
Saturday February 6th - England 6 Scotland 11, London
Sunday February 7th - Wales 21 Ireland 16, Cardiff

Round two
Saturday February 13th - England 41 Italy 18, London (2.15pm)
Saturday February 13th - Scotland 24 Wales 25, Edinburgh (4.45pm)
Sunday February 14th - Ireland 13 France 15, Dublin (3pm)

Round three
Saturday February 27th - Italy 10 Ireland 48, Rome (2.15pm)
Saturday February 27th - Wales 40 England 24, Cardiff (4.45pm)
Sunday February 28th - France P-P Scotland, Paris (3pm)

Round four
Saturday March 13th - Italy 7 Wales 48, Rome (2.15pm)
Saturday March 13th - England 23 France 20, London (4.45pm)
Sunday March 14th - Scotland 24 Ireland 27, Edinburgh (3pm)

Round five
Saturday March 20th - Scotland v Italy, Edinburgh (2.15pm)
Saturday March 20th - Ireland v England, Dublin (4.45pm)
Saturday March 20th - France v Wales, Paris (8pm)

How can I watch it?

This week has been a treat for the terrestrial-viewing sport fan, thanks to four days of the Cheltenham Festival. And on Saturday you can get perched and watch all three fixtures back-to-back on Virgin Media One - coverage starts at 1.30pm and ends at 10.30pm, a decent stint. Otherwise you can see Scotland versus Italy and France-Wales on BBC 1, with Ireland against England on ITV.

And, as ever, you can follow the action on the Irish Times liveblog, which will be bringing you the two later matches.

How is the table looking?

What happened last time out?

After a weekend off Ireland travelled to Edinburgh knowing the fallout from a defeat would be intense, so they rolled their sleeves up and got the job done in a fraught affair against the Scots. The visitors had a healthy 24-10 lead at one stage but conspired to throw it away at Murrayfield, with Johnny Sexton’s late touchline penalty seeing them escape with a 27-24 victory.

England also got their campaign back on track following a third round defeat with Wales as they ended France’s Grand Slam hopes at Twickenham. Les Bleus dazzled early on but ran out of steam in the final quarter - they hadn’t played for 27 days - and Maro Itoje’s late try gave Eddie Jones’s side a 23-20 win.

And Wales completed the penultimate leg of the Grand Slam with a 48-7 win over Italy in Rome. Wayne Pivac’s side effectively had the game won inside the first quarter and were a bit sloppy in the second-half - but it was a case of job done and bonus point secured against a beleaguered Azzurri.

Team news

Andy Farrell has made six changes for the visit of England, with Jacob Stockdale and Bundee Aki returning in the backline. Jack Conan comes in at number eight with CJ Stander moving to number six.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; David Kilcoyne, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan. Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson-Park, Billy Burns, Jordan Larmour.

As for the visitors, Elliot Daly has returned to the starting XV but will line out in midfield alongside Owen Farrell, with Henry Slade out injured. This is Eddie Jones’s solitary change.

England: Max Malins; Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels; Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola. Replacements: Jamie George, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Joe Marchant.

Louis Rees-Zammit and Wales are chasing the Grand Slam in Paris. Photograph: Marco Iacobucci/PA
Louis Rees-Zammit and Wales are chasing the Grand Slam in Paris. Photograph: Marco Iacobucci/PA

What are the permutations?

Only Wales and France can lift the title, here is what both sides need on Saturday night -

Wales - Win on Saturday and Wales are Grand Slam champions. A draw would also guarantee the Championship, as would two bonus points secured in defeat. If Wales lose but earn a bonus point, and France win without a bonus points, Wales are champions. Wales could also lose without a bonus point on Saturday and still be crowned champions, if France fail to overtake them on points difference, or if Les Bleus fail to beat Scotland.

France - Things are slightly more complicated for France, who need to win both of their final matches with a bonus point, while denying Wales a bonus point on Saturday, in order to eclipse Wales’s 19 points in the Six Nations table. Lose or draw against Wales or win their remaining games without bonus points and Wales are crowned champions. Should France collect nine points from their remaining two fixtures, and Wales don’t secure a bonus point, it will come down to points difference - where Wales are currently 24 ahead.

CJ Stander bows out

Saturday will be the last time we see CJ Stander in an Ireland shirt, with the number eight announcing earlier this week he is to retire at the end of the season. Stander is still only 30-years-old but will hang up his boots and return to South Africa in the summer, after earning 51 caps since his Ireland debut in 2016.

Stander will be missed, and as Gordon D’Arcy has written this week, his imminent retirement could stir him and the Irish pack into a famous last stand on Saturday afternoon: “Stander’s announcement yesterday offers the Ireland management an opportunity to hone in on the battles either side of the ball.

“If others follow CJ Stander into every collision on the Munster man’s 51st and final game for Ireland, then the heart will lead the head one more time.”

CJ Stander announced his imminent retirement from rugby earlier this week. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA
CJ Stander announced his imminent retirement from rugby earlier this week. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA

Four-in-a-row

Ireland are on a four match losing streak against England, who have delivered furious retribution ever since Joe Schmidt’s side completed the Grand Slam at Twickenham in 2018. The hallmark of each defeat has been the brutal physicality and line speed of the English, and you imagine they will be targeting more of the same on Saturday.

What are the bookies saying?

Match betting

Scotland 1-150 Draw 50-1 Italy 20-1 (Scotland -28 10-11)
Ireland 11-8 Draw 20-1 England 8-13 (England -3 Evens)
France 2-5 Draw Wales 7-4 (France -7 10-11)

How’s the weather looking?

It’s looking cloudy, dry and cool in Dublin on Saturday evening.

Can I go?

We’ll be there next year.

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