The 2021 Guinness Six Nations will draw to a close when France host Scotland in their delayed round three appointment on Friday night, with Wales anxious spectators knowing that they could yet be crowned champions.
Here, the PA news agency looks at the permutations surrounding the Stade de France showdown.
Why are France playing Scotland on Friday?
An outbreak of coronavirus spread through the France camp following last month’s victory over Ireland, infecting 12 players and a number of staff including head coach Fabien Galthie. It forced the postponement of the original match on February 28 and since then France have lost to England and ended Wales’ Grand Slam march, placing them within sight of the Six Nations title.
What do they need to do to win?
Even for a team of France’s ability, it is a tall order. Les Bleus require a bonus-point victory and a winning margin of at least 21 points to clinch their first title since 2010 and leave Wales empty handed. If they secure a bonus-point win and prevail by exactly 20 points, the title will be decided by tournament try-count between France and Wales. Anything less – or Scotland win or draw – and Wales are crowned champions.
What happens if the try counts are the same?
History would be made with the title being shared for the first time. Wales have currently scored five tries more than France, and should overall points totals, the countries’ points differences and try-counts finish level, then the rivals will finish joint first.
Surely France will defeat Scotland?
Scotland’s dismal record in Paris certainly suggests so, as following 10 visits they are still seeking a first Six Nations victory in the French capital, which they last stormed in 1999. Gregor Townsend was inspired at fly-half that day – he later described it as his favourite day in the jersey – and he returns in the role of head coach. Scotland have endured a frustrating tournament, the brilliance they showed against England on the opening weekend offset by losses to Wales and Ireland.
And will they do enough to clinch the title?
This is where it becomes interesting. Normally coaches will say win the game first, worry about the permutations later, but France’s points target is so big that patience is not an option. They must go on the offensive from an early stage and while they certainly possess the firepower to build a big total, prioritising attack will also provide opportunities to Scotland. Overall, France have been the best team in this Six Nations with their only defeat coming late on at Twickenham.