Three teams can still win the 2019 Six Nations as we enter the final round of matches this weekend.

Wales are in the driving seat, but they must defeat defending champions Ireland in order to be assured of the title and the Grand Slam.

England could also steal victory if Ireland win in Cardiff and Eddie Jones' men defeat Calcutta Cup rivals Scotland.

Meanwhile, there is little on the line for Italy and France as they reprise a usually one-sided fixture.

With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the fifth and final round of matches.

Italy v France

Italy have endured another miserable Six Nations campaign and history would suggest it is unlikely to get better against France.

The Azzurri - on a record 21-match losing run in the Six Nations - have only beaten France twice in 19 meetings in the championship, winning just three of 40 such clashes in all competitions. However, Les Bleus have only won once themselves in this campaign.

Sergio Parisse is set to captain Italy for the 50th time in the competition.

Wales v Ireland

The Grand Slam is on the line for Wales as they face defending champions Ireland, with Warren Gatland's men chasing their 12th in tournament history and fourth in the current format. It would also be the fifth time the Grand Slam has been won at the Principality Stadium - Ireland accounted for one of those.

Wales - on a 13-Test win streak - have won their last two home Six Nations matches against Ireland, but Joe Schmidt's men have triumphed in their last four championship away games.

Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones will win his 134th cap and draw level with Gethin Jenkins as his country's most capped player, fifth in the worldwide list.

England v Scotland

If Wales slip up, England will have the opportunity to take advantage and win the championship if they can beat Calcutta Cup rivals Scotland, who won the sides' last Six Nations meeting.

That was Scotland's first win in 10 against their old rivals in the competition, however, while England have only lost four of the teams' 48 Twickenham clashes - most recently in 1983.

Scotland's last trip to England saw them suffer their joint-worst defeat in the history of this Test fixture, going down 61-21.

Warren Gatland has laughed off Eddie Jones' claim Wales are looking tired heading into the final weekend of the Six Nations, and told his counterpart to focus on Scotland.

Wales are in pole position to win the title and the Grand Slam on Saturday but, should they slip up against Ireland, England could claim top spot.

Ahead of his side's Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland, Jones suggested Wales are "starting to look a bit tired" and that Ireland were "peaking at the right time".

Jones' comments were brushed aside by Gatland in his own media conference, and the coach is confident his squad are motivated to seal a fifth win.

The Wales coach said: "What the hell is Eddie Jones doing talking about our game?

"If it was me, I would be concentrating on playing Scotland. I've got no comment on Eddie Jones is talking about.

"I think, if you look at the stats, England have made a hell of a lot more tackles than we have in this tournament so my advice to Eddie is to just concentrate on the Scotland match."

And Gatland has warned Jones that his mind games will only serve to inspire Wales more.

"I pride myself on the record that I've had in big matches when it's really mattered, and even I get more of a buzz when people write us off – which has happened on a few of occasions," he added.

"It's about building belief and confidence in the players.

"We've worked in the down weeks, we've trained as hard as I've ever seen a team train, there's no way that anyone has trained as hard as us in this Six Nations."

 

Warren Gatland lauded Wales' motivation as he urged his side to seize the opportunity to win a Six Nations Grand Slam.

Wales, enjoying a 13-match winning run, will complete a tournament clean sweep if they defeat defending champions Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.

And head coach Gatland insisted on Thursday that Wales have not shied away from the magnitude of the clash in the build-up, claiming his team are ready to deliver.

"We have spoken all week about embracing [the opportunity] and not running away from it," he told a news conference. "You get opportunities that come along in life and you have to take it with both hands.

"I have said to this group of players that you might never get a chance like this again and you don't want to let those opportunities pass you by.

"I have not seen a group of players as motivated as this before and this excited about playing in a Grand Slam game, wanting to win and put that jersey on and play for themselves and their families and Wales as a whole and what it means to the country.

"I know Ireland want to come and spoil the party but we have a chance of realistically finishing first or third while Ireland probably be second or third. We know what is at stake and the prize is massive."

One outside factor that could influence the match is the weather, with rain forecast.

Gatland is frustrated that Wales will not be allowed to close the Principality Stadium roof if Ireland, who can still retain their title, prefer to brave the conditions and impact the atmosphere.

"We have not heard definitively but we understand they want it [the roof] open, which is not a concern for us," Gatland insisted, before adding: "My only concern is that, if it is pouring down with rain, we do have a responsibility to the game as a spectacle.

"There may be nine million people watching it on TV but I don't see the point, having the opportunity to close the roof, to potentially play in terrible weather conditions.

"That's a decision that is out of my hands. Both teams have to agree to the roof being closed so that means, basically, the away team decides what happens in our stadium.

"I have made a number of comments in the past about that. It's our stadium and we should be able to do what we want with it."

England head coach Eddie Jones believes Wales' fatigue could cost them the Six Nations Grand Slam as they host Ireland on Saturday.

Wales are in pole position heading into the final weekend of the championship, knowing victory against the defending champions will secure the title.

But Ireland can still triumph themselves, while an away win in Cardiff would open the door for England to steal top spot with victory over Scotland.

Jones foresees a "fascinating" weekend, but he is hopeful that Ireland and England can capitalise on a tiring Welsh side.

"I think it's a fascinating close to the tournament," he said. "You've got three teams who can win it.

"Wales are a very good team, very well coached. Great credit to them for what they've done, but they are starting to look a bit tired.

"They've made more tackles than anyone else in the tournament and they're playing against an Ireland side that seems to be peaking at the right time.

"You look at guys like Conor Murray, [Johnny] Sexton, [Garry] Ringrose and [Peter] O'Mahony, guys that weren't in great form at the start of the tournament that are now starting to come to the fore.

"I'm sure the crowd's going to help Wales overcome that tiredness, but it's going to be a great game."

However, while England's fate could be sealed before kick-off against Scotland, Jones' focus will remain on the Calcutta Cup clash.

"We don't have any plan [about the Wales game]," he added. "We don't need to have a plan because all we're worried about is ourselves.

"The only thing we can control, regardless of the result, is how well we play. It's our last game of the Six Nations, our last game in front of our home crowd and we want to put on a good performance. We're focused on that.

"If Wales win, so be it. If Ireland win, so be it. We're ready to play well ourselves."

Sean O'Brien has returned to the Ireland side while Tadhg Beirne will make his Six Nations debut in Saturday's crunch clash with Wales.

Joe Schmidt's men must defeat Grand Slam-chasing Wales to have any hope of retaining the championship, but they have been hit by a pair of injuries.

Josh van der Flier was withdrawn in the first half of last week's win over France due to a groin injury and so O'Brien, who lost his place to the winger, is back in the team.

Iain Henderson is also unable to make the trip to Cardiff, meaning Beirne plays for the first time in this campaign.

Beirne made his international debut in Australia last year and has four caps to his name ahead of his Six Nations bow.

Rob Kearney is fit to start, however, having withdrawn late on last week as Jordan Larmour started in his place.

Ireland: Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (captain), Tadhg Furlong, Tadhg Beirne, James Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Quinn Roux, Jack Conan, Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, Jordan Larmour.

Wales will field an unchanged starting line-up as they chase a third Grand Slam under Warren Gatland against Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Full-back Liam Williams has been passed fit to play after going off with a shoulder injury during the 18-11 victory over Scotland last time out.

Gatland guided Wales to clean-sweep glory in 2008 and 2012 and, like Ireland coach and fellow New Zealander Joe Schmidt, he takes charge of a final Six Nations match in Cardiff before a 2019 World Cup swansong.

"We've named an unchanged squad and rewarded the players for the last couple of outings and the last couple of victories," said Gatland.

"These players are on a very good run, they are a hugely impressive group and they deserve to be going into the final weekend with everything to play for.

"It is a great reward for them for the hard work they have put in and we are all looking forward to what is going to be a huge game.

"For a number of us as coaches this is our last Six Nations game and the fact that it is in Cardiff is extra special. There is bound to be a bit of emotion on Saturday and that is something to embrace."

Captain Alun Wyn Jones will equal Gethin Jenkin's total Test appearance record on 134 caps – including nine with the British and Irish Lions – to sit joint fifth on the world all-time list.

Ireland, Wales and England – who face Scotland – can all win the Six Nations heading into the final round of games.

 

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.

Ataulla Guerra re-acquainted himself with Trinidad and Tobago’s national set-up in 2017 after an absence of three years and is now saying he is happy with the way things are going under head coach, Dennis Lawrence. 

Wales head into the final weekend of the Six Nations knowing victory over Ireland will guarantee them the title and a Grand Slam.  

Warren Gatland's side have impressed throughout this year's tournament, picking up four victories so far, including a 21-13 win over nearest rivals England in round three.  

Make it five from five on Saturday and the title is theirs. Should they slip up, though, both England and Ireland could take advantage and snatch the Six Nations crown from Wales' grasp.  

Here, we look at the permutations heading into the last round of fixtures.


Wales

Victory over Ireland will seal the title no matter how England do in the late kick-off. Maintaining their 100 per cent record in the 2019 edition earns Wales three extra bonus points, moving them out of their rivals' reach at the summit.

England

Should Wales fail to win in Cardiff, England will be certain to move above them with a bonus-point victory over Scotland. A win would also see Eddie Jones' side regain the Calcutta Cup.

Ireland

Joe Schmidt's reigning champions are not out of contention just yet, though they need more than just a victory over Wales to retain their crown. Should they triumph on the road, Ireland will then require a Scotland win at Twickenham to leap into first place.

Should Ireland secure a bonus-point win over Wales and England beat Scotland without scoring four tries, the two teams will finish level on 19 points 

That would mean points difference would decide the championship. England currently lead the way, their total standing at 83 compared to Ireland's 19.

Warren Gatland has changed the mentality within Welsh rugby so they now go into tournaments as favourites instead of underdogs, says former Wales skipper Sam Warburton.

Gatland has won three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup since taking charge in 2007.

They stand on the verge of another Six Nations Grand Slam this weekend, Gatland's side needing to beat Ireland in Cardiff to complete the job.

And Wales' transformation into a dominant force is all down to the impact of Gatland – who will leave his role after this year's World Cup – according to Warburton.

"He has changed the perception of the Welsh public from being underdogs, which they were used to in the 1990s and 2000s," said Warburton.

"It is normal now to expect to win a Six Nations campaign year in, year out. He has changed the psychology of the Welsh team and public.

"That underdog status has pretty much gone now. You do not want to be the underdog.

"You work hard to be the top dog, and he has got the boys and the public in that state of mind. They expect so much of the Welsh team, and that is down to Warren.

"Behind closed doors, in my experience, Warren always says how good we are. When he says you are going to do something, nine times out of 10 it happens.

"He oozes confidence, and the players feed off it and believe exactly what he says.

"His coaching methods are brilliant anyway, and what he says carries a massive amount of weight among the playing group."

And Warburton is confident Gatland is determined to finish on a high in Japan later this year.

"I still think he has more to do," added the former Wales captain. "He knows that.

"I still think we will see him achieving big things after this World Cup.

"You get vibes of what a coach might do, but I do not know whether he will go back into the international scene, the Lions or go back to New Zealand.

"He might enjoy a bit of time off initially, but I think his coaching journey will definitely continue."

Josh van der Flier will miss Ireland's crunch Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday due to a groin injury.

The flanker replaced the dropped Sean O'Brien in the starting line-up for the 26-14 victory over France on Sunday but was withdrawn in the first half.

Defending champions Ireland must do without van der Flier when they attempt to deny Wales a Grand Slam in Cardiff while keeping their title hopes alive.

Dan Leavy is back in contention after recovering from a calf injury, while Rob Kearney (calf) and Joey Carbery (hamstring) are also expected to be available along with Tadhg Beirne (knee).

Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek said on Tuesday: "Dan Leavy has joined the squad and he's here to make sure he looks good, we'll see how he goes this afternoon.

"It's a short turnaround; we'll see how training goes. Sean has been training hard and that puts him into contention. We have a few options there, but we'll see how it goes in training.

"Tadhg Beirne was sore last week but he will hopefully train and be available for selection. He's a determined young man and has a lot to offer, it's a competitive position in the second-row.

"We need to deal what's in front of us, if he goes well today and gets his detail right, he will put his hand up."

Johnny Sexton is confident Ireland can halt Wales in their tracks, as they have done previously against New Zealand and England.

Wales are on course for a Six Nations Grand Slam - won by Ireland last year - and will secure that superb triumph by beating Sexton's men this weekend.

But Ireland, who can themselves still win the championship, brought an end to the All Blacks' record-breaking 18-match winning run in 2016 and also denied England a Grand Slam the following year.

And while Wales coach Warren Gatland says his men have "forgotten how to lose" amid 13 consecutive victories, World Rugby player of the year Sexton has little interest in mind games.

"I don't know if Wales feel like they're invincible. They're saying that they've forgotten how to lose and all of that," he said, as reported by the Irish Examiner. "They've eked out some results.

"We've played well against teams that have gone on runs before - New Zealand, England - stopping their runs.

"Again, we'll give them the respect that they absolutely deserve. We'll analyse them, we'll talk about where we can get at them, where we think they are very strong, and we'll come up with a plan.

"I don't think we'll talk too much about the psychology of them."

Ryan Giggs insists criticism of Gareth Bale is merely part and parcel of being a Real Madrid player, with the Wales boss citing how Cristiano Ronaldo used to be targeted, too.

Bale was booed by his own supporters when he left the field in a 1-0 Clasico loss to Barcelona this month, with the 29-year-old's agent Jonathan Barnett later labelling Madrid fans "a disgrace" for jeering his client.

The Wales international has scored just three goals in 2019 during a slump in form for Los Blancos, who hired former boss Zinedine Zidane to take over from Santiago Solari on Monday.

Bale's current international manager and former Manchester United midfielder Giggs says the ex-Tottenham star should understand that being under scrutiny is nothing new for those who play at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking at a news conference where he announced his latest Wales squad, Giggs told reporters: "That [criticism] comes with playing for Real Madrid.

"Obviously, I played for United and you are open to criticism when you're at a big club. Everyone's had it.

"The two Ronaldos had it at Madrid, Gareth Bale has it. He won't be the last person to be criticised.

"What's he won? Four Champions Leagues. Scored the winner [in the final] last year. It doesn't really need [me] to say much more.

"But when you're at Real Madrid, and when you've got a high profile like Gareth Bale, you are open to criticism, that comes with the territory.

"He's at Real Madrid. When I played at United and you lost, you have to put up with that, just like you have to put up with the adulation when you win leagues, when you win Champions Leagues.

"It comes with the territory and you have to put with it and Gareth's put up with it. Great players over the years have put up with that, especially at Real Madrid.

"There's newspapers dedicated every day to reporting on that club, so you have to take the rough with the smooth. Gareth always turns up, gives everyone a lift and he's always been brilliant around the camp."

Zidane's return could impact Bale's long-term future in the Spanish capital, with his agent Barnett telling ESPN it was a case of "wait and see".

Yet Giggs does not believe the uncertainty at club level will impact Bale when he joins up with the Wales squad.

"He's an experienced player," Giggs added.

"I've said over and over again what a quality player he is and what a quality person he is. I expect Gareth to turn up and, just like he always does, give everyone a lift."

Gareth Bale has been included in Wales' squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia, despite missing Real Madrid's win over Real Valladolid on Sunday through injury.

The forward appeared to suffer an ankle injury last week during Madrid's shock 4-1 home loss to Ajax in the Champions League which dumped the holders out of the competition at the last-16 stage.

Bale was then not involved as Madrid came from behind to beat Valladolid, which proved to be Santiago Solari's final match in charge before Zinedine Zidane's return to the club was confirmed on Monday.

Wales boss Ryan Giggs has included Bale as part of his 31-man squad for the friendly with Trinidad and Tobago next Wednesday and the nation's first Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia four days later.

Speaking at a news conference, Giggs told reporters: "I have [had a chat with Bale]. I was as worried as anyone else, but he should be fine.

"He is a fantastic player, when Gareth turns up he gives everyone a lift."

Rotherham United midfielder Will Vaulks has earned his first call-up but Aston Villa defender James Chester and on-loan Derby County midfielder Andy King miss out through injury.

 

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Adam Davies, Chris Maxwell; Chris Gunter, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies, Neil Taylor, Connor Roberts, Ethan Ampadu, Declan John, Tom Lockyer, Chris Mepham, Paul Dummett, James Lawrence, Ryan Hedges; Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, David Brooks, Ben Woodburn, Harry Wilson, Matthew Smith, Lee Evans, Daniel James, Will Vaulks, George Thomas, Rabbi Matondo; Gareth Bale, Sam Vokes, Tom Lawrence, Tyler Roberts.

Trinidad and Tobago coach Dennis Lawrence is concerned that his team may not be as match sharp as it should be ahead of a friendly international against Wales at the end of this month. 

Eddie Jones says the last weekend of the Six Nations "will be like a Grand Final" after England hammered hapless Italy 57-14 to leave Wales with only a one-point lead.

Manu Tuilagi and Brad Shields scored two tries apiece, while Jamie George, Jonny May, Dan Robson and George Kruis also dotted down in a rout at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wales beat Scotland 18-11 earlier in the day to stay on course for a Grand Slam - they can complete a clean sweep in this season's tournament if they get the better of defending champions Ireland in Cardiff next Saturday.

Jones is looking forward to what promises to be a thrilling finale, with England eyeing a fourth bonus-point win of the campaign when they take on Scotland after Wales and Ireland have locked horns.

He told ITV Sport: "Next week will be like a Grand Final, it'll be exciting. We cannot control what happens in the other game, but we can control what happens against Scotland.

"We will have a couple of days off, but then get into it on Monday."

England ran riot after the disappointment of their defeat to Wales a fortnight ago, though head coach Jones says there is still room for improvement.

"Yes, it was a good response after Wales. We left a bit out there, there’s a bit of disappointment with certain aspects but we are looking forward to Scotland," he added.

"We used the whole 23 today, we could have used the finishers better against Wales, and that was my fault, but they all made a contribution today

"Ben Te'o and Manu Tuilagi are good players, and Joe Cokanasiga is only going to improve. We are so blessed to have Brad Shields and Mark Wilson who can play six, there is great competition for places for next week."

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