Explainer: Can England win the Six Nations if Wales beat Ireland?

Leaders England host Scotland in their final match, but a victory for Wales would give them a Grand Slam

Wales' Josh Adams scores a try in the Six Nations win against Scotland. Reuters
Wales' Josh Adams scores a try in the Six Nations win against Scotland. Reuters

Wales go into the final weekend of the 2019 Six Nations Championship knowing that success over Ireland would give them a perfect five wins from five – and thus a Grand Slam.

Were they to do so without scoring four tries, but England do in beating Scotland at home on the same day – and thus gain an extra bonus point – could England beat them to the Six Nations title?

The answer is, no.

In normal competition, bonus points for scoring four tries or more, or losing by seven points or fewer, are added to those sides pick up for winning (four points) or drawing (two points).

So far, England have picked up bonus points in three of their four matches, while Wales have yet to register one.

As such, England are only a single point behind Wales in the table, even though their rivals have won one more game than they have.

England also have a points differential that is 52 better than Wales, meaning, if the two sides were to finish on the same amount of points, England would be placed higher – in normal competition.

However, since it first introduced the bonus-point system in 2017, the Six Nations has carried a special rule that ensures any side that wins all its fixtures is the rightful winner.

“A union that wins all five of its matches [a “Grand Slam”] shall be awarded a further three match points,” the rule states.

Wales could, of course, still be beaten to the title. Ireland travel to Cardiff on Saturday, knowing that a win could bring them a second successive title, and a fourth in six seasons. The Irish trail their hosts by two points in the standings.

England would be most likely to benefit from a slip up by Wales, though. If Wales fail to win, an England victory over Scotland at Twickenham would almost certainly give them the title.

They are one point behind the Welsh, and one ahead of the Irish, and have a far healthier points differential advantage than either of them.

Updated: March 12, 2019 12:26 PM


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