The Six Nations enters its dramatic final round this weekend, with three teams potentially in the running for the title, but who needs what to take home the trophy and where will the other sides finish?
England – The simplest way for England to claim the title is for them to beat Italy in Rome and then hope that France beat Ireland in Paris. England will win the Six Nations provided France do not beat Ireland by 31 points more than their own margin of victory over Italy.
Ireland – Any win for Ireland in Paris will surely hand them the title, thanks to their points difference of 81. However Ireland could theoretically still not win the title if England can thrash Italy and make up their current 49-point deficit. If their margin of victory is 51 points greater than Ireland’s over France, then England will still win.
France – The only realistic way for France to win the title is if they beat Ireland in Paris and then hope that Italy can overcome England in Rome. Should England win against Italy (and they have never lost to them in rugby history) then France will have to make up a 29-point gap between the sides, meaning they must beat Ireland by 31 points more than England’s margin of victory in Rome.
Team-by-team final position guide
1st: If they beat Italy and France beat Ireland (by no more than 31 points more than England’s win) or if they beat Italy by 51 points more than Ireland beat France.
2nd: If Ireland beat France and they fail to beat Italy by 51 points more than Ireland’s margin of victory or if England and France lose (provided France don’t overturn a difference of 29 points)
3rd: If England lose to Italy and France beat Ireland (provided Ireland don’t lose by 51 points more than England did in Rome)
4th: The same results needed for third but with Wales also making up a difference of 37 points in victory over Scotland.
1st: If Ireland beat France and England do not make up a difference of 49 points in beating Italy or if they win and Italy beat England.
2nd: If Ireland lose to France and Italy beat England (provided that Ireland don’t let a 51-point gap slip) or if Ireland beat France but England beat Italy by 51 points more than their margin of victory.
3rd: If Ireland lose to France and England beat Italy or if they lose to France and Italy beat England (with Ireland letting a 51-point gap slide)
4th: The same results for third but with Wales making up a difference of 86 points in victory over Scotland.
Brian O'Driscoll: His five best moments
Brian O'Driscoll: His five best moments
1/5 FRANCE 25 IRELAND 27, SIX NATIONS, PARIS, MARCH 2000
O'Driscoll became the eighth Irishman to score an international hat-trick, dragging his side to their first win in France since 1972. Hooker Keith Wood was Ireland captain that day, and firmly believes that treble from the 20-year-old changed the face of Irish rugby forever. "I had felt all the hidings we'd had from France, and I remember that day, watching from about 30 yards away on my knees as he held the ball up in one hand," said Wood of O'Driscoll completing his hat-trick. "And I remember thinking 'anything is possible now', thanks to this young kid who had come on and suddenly had a bit of magic about him. "That was the change for me, it was the change for me as captain, but it was a change for the team too, because suddenly there was a belief that actually if things weren't going so well you could still have somebody who could score three tries." O'Driscoll himself admitted he had no idea what he had done, until returning to Dublin thrust perspective his way. "I didn't realise the enormity of it until we got back home, it was nice to live all the craziness of it with my friends and family," he said. "I don't think it was me who changed things, it was a generation of players, with the likes of Ronan O'Gara and John Hayes, who were not used to losing and refused to accept it."
2/5 AUSTRALIA 21 BRITISH LIONS 23, FIRST LIONS TEST, THE GABBA, BRISBANE, JUNE 2001
"Waltzing O'Driscoll" was born as the Leinster centre danced round Wallabies full-back Matt Burke to score one of the greatest British Lions tries of all time. O'Driscoll scythed home from halfway for a try that elevated the Ireland centre from European to world renown. England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson later revealed his admiration for O'Driscoll's nerveless confidence on that Australia tour. The Wallabies edged the series 2-1 in the event, but Wilkinson admitted O'Driscoll's supreme faith in his own abilities left a lasting impression. "Give me the ball and I'll score", World Cup-winner Wilkinson recalls O'Driscoll telling the Lions backline in the midst of match action: a pledge on which he delivered.
3/5 AUSTRALIA 17 IRELAND 16, RUGBY WORLD CUP, TELSTRA DOME, MELBOURNE, NOVEMBER 2003
Not even a rare drop-goal from the outside centre and skipper could drag Ireland to victory over the tournament hosts. O'Driscoll produced an inch-perfect finish into the left corner for a fine try to bamboozle the Wallaby defence. The drop-goal summed up his refusal to admit defeat, desperate for Ireland to win any which way. George Smith's try, three penalties from Elton Flatley and a George Gregan drop-goal edged Australia home. Despite the defeat this was another Herculean O'Driscoll performance, further illustrating his world box-office status.
4/5 WALES 15 IRELAND 17, SIX NATIONS, MILLENNIUM STADIUM, CARDIFF, MARCH 2009
Captain marvel O'Driscoll steered Ireland to their first Grand Slam since 1948 with a superlative, try-scoring performance. Stephen Jones' four penalties kept Wales firmly in the hunt, but O'Driscoll and Tommy Bowe produced vital second-half scores. Wales pilfered a 15-14 lead in the dying stages through fly-half Jones' drop-goal, only for Ronan O'Gara to drop a goal of his own to clinch the dramatic overtime victory. O'Gara's big-match temperament had been called into question in the build-up to the clash, but the Munster fly-half's late strike secured the clean sweep, sending Ireland into raptures. O'Driscoll can eschew the acclaim all he likes, but without his talismanic, stubborn and driven leadership Ireland could still be waiting to break that Grand Slam duck.
5/5 IRELAND 24 ENGLAND 8, SIX NATIONS, AVIVA STADIUM, DUBLIN, MARCH 2011
O'Driscoll's 25th Ireland try broke Scotland wing Ian Smith's tournament scoring record that had stood since 1933. Just a short-range dart across the line, but O'Driscoll still had the presence of mind to fling himself lower than England's whitewash defenders. The arch-poacher scooped up a loose ball 15 metres from the line, whipping home before Nick Easter and the like could set themselves to offer sufficient resistance. Few begrudged a 78-year tournament record tumbling at the hands of a genuine world power.
1st: If France beat Ireland by 29 points more than England beat Italy or if France beat Ireland and England lose to Italy.
2nd: If France beat Ireland but without a margin of 29 points more than England’s win over Italy or if they lose but so do England (and by 29 points more than France)
3rd: If France lose and England beat Italy or if they lose and England lose to Italy but without letting their 28-point gap slip
4th: The same results for third but with Wales making up a difference of 8 points in victory over Scotland.
2nd: England have to lose to Italy and Wales must beat Scotland with the following conditions – if France lose to Ireland then Wales must overturn a 37-point gap when beating Scotland. If Ireland lose to France, Wales must overturn a 86-point gap.
3rd: If England beat Italy and if France lose to Ireland then Wales must beat Scotland and overturn a difference of eight points. They can also take third if Ireland lose to France and they overturn a difference of 86 points or if England lose to Italy and France lose to Ireland, but they fail to overturn a 37-point deficit,
4th: Provided Wales do not lose to Scotland by more than 38 points they will come at least fourth.
5th: If Wales lose to Scotland by 38 points or more they will be fifth.
4th: If they beat Wales by more than 38 points
5th: If they beat Wales but not by more than 38 points or if they lose to Wales and Italy fail to beat England. Alternatively either of the above but if Italy beat England without overturning a 25-point gap with Scotland.
6th: If they lose to Wales and Italy beat England (overturning a 25-point gap with Scotland in the process)
5th: Scotland must lose tow Wales and they must beat England, overturning a 25-point gap with Scotland in the process.
6th: Unless the above results happen, Italy will be sixth whatever the result of their match.
If teams are level on points and points difference, then the title goes to the team who scored the most tries during the Championship.