After a brief pause for recovery, the Guinness Six Nations rockets back onto our screens this weekend, with the highlight of proceedings coming from the Welsh capital on Saturday evening with leaders England in town.
Eddie Jones’ men top the Six Nations standings after two rounds with two bonus point wins to their name, defeating Ireland and France in successive weeks, while Wales have also made an impressive start, overturning Les Bleus also as well as taking a comfortable win over Italy.
Round 3 kicks off in Paris on Sunday as Scotland, one win, one defeat so far, take on a France side currently joint bottom with Italy with no wins from the first two matches.
Meanwhile, the weekend ends over on the continent in Rome as Ireland seek to extend their comeback against Italy following their Round 2 win Scotland following their opening weekend reverse to England.
France v Scotland
Saturday 23rd February
Stade de France, Paris
2:15pm (UK time)
The French national stadium plays host to the opening Round 3 encounter as Jacques Brunel’s Les Bleus welcome third-placed Scotland to the capital city.
Scotland opened their campaign with victory over Italy, but would succumb to the power of Ireland in Round 2, leaving Gregor Townsend’s men in a nervy mid-table position, knowing the result against France this Saturday will define their campaign.
Defeat to France would signal the end of any title hopes for Scotland and Brunel has named a strong home side, with a number of players back in favoured positions as they aim to breathe life into their withered campaign.
France excelled in Round 1 for 40 minutes against Wales and if they can bring their A-game once more it could be enough to dismantle Scotland’s prospects, especially with the tourists missing key players.
France to win by 12
Wales v England
Saturday 23rd February
Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
4:45pm (UK time)
Rugby’s oldest international rivalry is renewed on Saturday evening as England travel over the border to the Millennium Stadium to face Wales in what promises to be a mouthwatering clash.
England are riding high after victories of Ireland and France, claiming a bonus-point on both occasions, with Jones’ troops making a habit of roaring out of the blocks and claiming early scores.
Wales have also won their opening two fixtures, turning over a deficit to beat France in Round 1 before claiming the scalp of Italy with a routine win, but the arrival of England will signal a whole new level of testing.
As the Six Nations’ only two unbeaten sides lock horns, England will undoubtedly be favourites given their try-scoring record and scintillating form, but Wales have a record of spoiling English parties just as they get into full swing.
England to win by 9
Italy v Ireland
Sunday 24th February
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
3pm (UK time)
Round 3 ends in Rome on Sunday afternoon as Ireland seek a second Six Nations victory against an Italian side whose tournament is all-but over, again.
Ireland were left bruised mentally and physically by their opening round reverse to England in Dublin, but bounced back with vigour to defeat Scotland at Murrayfield in Round 2 and if they are to keep pressure on the tournament leaders a bonus-point victory is a must.
Italy, the perennial wooden spoon holders in Six Nations rugby, have offered little to present any glimmers of hope, much to the dismay of Conor O’Shea, the Azzurri head coach.
Ireland must win, and win big. Italy should prove an easy side for a muscular Emerald Isle to roll over, but can they cross the whitewash four or more times and keep England and Wales looking behind.
Ireland to win by 22