The Men’s and Women’s RBS 6 Nations Championships are going right down to the wire with Ireland still in the hunt for both titles. Scoring difference could prove crucial at BT Murrayfield and Broadwood Stadium, while the international weekend kicks off with the Ireland Under-20s’ clash with Scotland on Friday.
UNDER-20 RBS 6 NATIONS: Friday, March 20
SCOTLAND UNDER-20s (4th) v IRELAND UNDER-20s (3rd), Netherdale, Galashiels, 7.30pm
– All Scotland’s matches so far in this season’s Under-20 Six Nations have been won by the home side on the day
– The Scotland Under-20s’ record at Netherdale is won four and lost three
– The Ireland Under-20s began the 2015 campaign with a pair of victories but have been defeated in the last two rounds
– The Ireland Under-20s have never before lost three in a row in the tournament, while their only away win in their last nine matches in all competitions came in Italy in round 1
– The two sides have met on 11 previous occasions in all competitions with Scotland’s two victories being at Perth in 2009 and at Galashiels in 2013
– Ireland out-half Ross Byrne (50 points – 10 conversions and 10 penalties) is the top points scorer after the 2015 Championship’s opening four rounds. Full-back Billy Dardis and winger Stephen Fitzgerald have both scored two tries so far
Match Ticket Info: Tickets are available for adults (£10) and over-60s (£5), while under-18s go free. Turnstiles open at 6.30pm. Buy ticket(s) here.
SCOTLAND U-20: Ruairi Howarth (Edinburgh/Gala); Ben Robbins (Edinburgh/Watsonians), Tom Galbraith (Melrose), Patrick Kelly (Le Parc), Alec Coombes (London Scottish); Rory Huthchinson (Northampton Saints), George Horne (Glasgow Hawks); Murray McCallum (Aberdeen Grammar), Sam James (Wasps), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), Lewis Carmichael (Melrose), Neil Irvine-Hess (Melrose), Ally Miller (Edinburgh/Watsonians), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh/Boroughmuir) (capt).
Replacements: Ross Graham (Hawick), Dan Elkington (Watsonians), Gary Robertson (Gala), Andrew Davidson (Glasgow Warriors/Glasgow Hawks), Ruairi Knott (Melrose), Ben Vellacott (Gloucester/Hartpury College), Archie Russell (Stirling County), Richard Galloway (Birmingham University).
IRELAND U-20: Billy Dardis (UCD/Leinster); Ciaran Gaffney (Galwegians/Connacht), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Sam Arnold (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Stephen Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster); Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster) (capt); Jeremy Loughman (UCD/Leinster), Zack McCall (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster), Conan O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht), David O’Connor (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Alex Thompson (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster), Josh Murphy (UCD/Leinster), Nick Timoney (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Lorcan Dow (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster).
Replacements: Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Michael Lagan (Ballymena/Ulster), Oisin Heffernan (Terenure College/Leinster), Jack Dwan (UCD/Leinster), Stephen McVeigh (Buccaneers/Connacht), Connor Young (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster), Joey Carbery (UCD/Leinster), Jacob Stockdale (Queen’s University Belfast/Ulster).
Referee: Thomas Foley (England)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Ross Campbell (both England)
RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, March 21
SCOTLAND (6th) v IRELAND (2nd), BT Murrayfield, 2.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC One/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)
As we enter ‘Super Saturday’, there are still four sides in with a chance of lifting the 2015 RBS 6 Nations trophy, with this season being unique in that it is the first where the top of the table team has changed after every round so far.
There is also a chance that this campaign’s results will become the closest on record with a total winning margin for the 12 games to date being just 143 points – the best ever for a season being 158 points in 2010.
The round begins in Rome with Wales requiring a sizable win to give themselves a chance of taking the crown. Next up Ireland visit Edinburgh – there is a longshot scenario in which Ireland could win the title with a defeat but realistically a good win would give them the best opportunity.
The tournament concludes at Twickenham where both sides will know what is required for them to carry off the silverware. Currently France must win by eight points to overhaul England, but even that will not be enough if either Ireland or Wales have already won. England will most likely require a victory to win the title, but will also need to be conscious of the scoring difference.
STATS & FACTS
– Scotland have lost their last four Test matches but have not lost five in a row since 2012
– The Scotsmen’s only RBS 6 Nations triumph since round 3 of 2013 came when they beat Italy by a single point in Rome last year
– Scotland have lost their last five RBS 6 Nations matches at Murrayfield, their worst run at the venue in the Championship since 1970
– Ireland’s 10-match winning run in Tests ended in Cardiff last Saturday. The Irishmen have not lost successive away games in the RBS 6 Nations in the same season since 2008
– Ireland’s record in round 5 encounters is won seven and lost eight since 2000
– The last four meetings between the two nations have all been won by the home side on the day, while Ireland have not won at Murrayfield since 2011
– Scotland have not scored a try against Ireland since Richie Gray did so 203 minutes ago in Dublin in 2012
ON THE PITCH
– Stuart Hogg has run 91 metres more than any other player with ball in hand during this season’s RBS 6 Nations
– Robbie Henshaw and Stuart Hogg have both beaten 14 defenders this year to top that category, along with England’s Anthony Watson
– Jonny Gray has missed just one tackle during the 2015 tournament, while making 65 tackles
– Blair Cowan has won the most turnovers in the tournament this season with seven
– Ireland have thrown 718 passes so far – 162 more than second placed England
– Ireland are also the top ball carriers with 574 carries over the first four rounds
SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors); Dougie Fife (Edinburgh), Mark Bennett (Glasgow Warriors), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors); Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester) (capt); Ryan Grant (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Glasgow Warriors), Jim Hamilton (Saracens), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Adam Ashe (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Cowan (London Irish), David Denton (Edinburgh).
Replacements: Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Alasdair Dickinson (Edinburgh), Geoff Cross (London Irish), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Rob Harley (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh), Greig Tonks (Edinburgh), Tim Visser (Edinburgh).
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Jared Payne (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Felix Jones (Shannon/Munster).
Referee: Jerome Garces (France)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)
WOMEN’S RBS 6 NATIONS: Sunday, March 22
SCOTLAND WOMEN (6th) v IRELAND WOMEN (2nd), Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld, 1pm (live RTÉ Two HD/RTÉ 2fm)
– The Scotland Women have not won a game in the Six Nations since beating France in the opening round of the 2010 campaign
– The Ireland Women will know what they have to do to take the title – on scoring difference or otherwise. They play this game on Sunday after England host current leaders France at Twickenham on Saturday night
– A victory (by any margin) at Broadwood Stadium would see the girls in green claim their second Triple Crown in three years
– The Scotland Women won the first 14 clashes with Ireland between 1993 and 2006 but Ireland have won all nine encounters since then
– Ireland full-back and captain Niamh Briggs is the 2015 tournament’s third top points scorer so far with 26 points (1 try, 3 conversions and 5 penalties), behind France’s Jessy Tremouliere (27 points – 1 try, 5 conversions and 4 penalties) and Julie Billes (30 points – 6 tries)
– Flanker Paula Fitzpatrick is Ireland’s top try scorer after the opening four rounds. She touched down in the Championship opener against Italy and added her second against Wales last weekend
Match Ticket Info: Tickets are available for adults (£5), while under-18s, students and over-60s go free. Turnstiles open at 12pm – Broadwood Stadium will be selling tickets on the day. Buy ticket(s) here.
SCOTLAND WOMEN: Chloe Rollie (Melrose); Nuala Deans (Wasps), Gillian Inglis (Melrose), Hannah Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), Eilidh Sinclair (Murrayfield Wanderers); Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers), Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers); Lisa Robertson (Murrayfield Wanderers), Lana Skeldon (Melrose), Tracy Balmer (Worcester) (capt), Deborah McCormack (Richmond), Emma Wassell (Murrayfield Wanderers), Rachael Cook (Murrayfield Wanderers), Karen Dunbar (RHC Cougars), Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill).
Replacements: Sarah Quick (Murrayfield Wanderers), Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill), Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill), Fiona Sim (Saracens), Lyndsay O’Donnell (Worcester), Mhairi Grieve (RHC Cougars), Claire Bain (RHC Cougars), Jenny Maxwell (Lichfield).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt); Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen); Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Gillian Bourke (Olympico de Pozuelo), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements: Sarah Mimnagh (Wasps/Exile), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Fiona O’Brien (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Orla Fitzsimons (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Katie Norris (Blackrock/Leinster), Tania Rosser (Blackrock/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht), Aoife Doyle (Shannon/Munster).
Referee: Jess Beard (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Alex Pratt, Mhairi Hay (both Scotland)
– Compiled by SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)