Six Nations 2014: Full TV Schedule, Predictions and Top Players to Watch

Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  England player Owen Farrell in action during the RBS Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 9, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

And then it came down to three.

This year's Six Nations Championship has been as nerve jangling as it has been compelling, with four countries vying for supremacy throughout.

Last week saw the elimination of Wales after their systematic beating by a hungry England side at Twickenham.

Ireland continued their stellar form, crushing a sorry Italian outfit at home in Brian O'Driscoll's swan song on Irish soil.

And France kept their campaign on course by the skin of their teeth, narrowly defeating Scotland away. 

Here is a list of the final fixtures and current standings, along with a review of the top players to watch and score predictions:

Six Nations Rugby Championship Fixtures Round 5
FixtureDateTime (GMT)TV Info
Italy v EnglandMarch 1512:30 p.m.BBC One
Wales v ScotlandMarch 152:45 p.m.BBC One
France v IrelandMarch 155:00 p.m.BBC One
BBC Sport
Six Nations Rugby Championship Table
BBC Sport


Italy v England

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 09:  Danny Care of England clears the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on March 9, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It is to England's credit that they have taken this Six Nations campaign right down to the final match, after losing their opening game in Paris in the dying seconds. 

Arguably, the young lions deserved to win that encounter with France, and that would have all but guaranteed the Grand Slam for them. 

They enter this tie knowing that a win on its own may not suffice, so a dynamic points-scoring performance will be the order of the day in Rome.

Ireland's superiority in points difference gives them an overwhelming advantage, and their battle with France will likely determine all outcomes. If Ireland win, England will need to overturn a 49-point difference at the start of the day's action.

TWICKENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 11:  Owen Farrell catches the ball during the England training session held at Twickenham Stadium on March 11, 2014 in Twickenham, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Many of those points will have to come from the boot of Owen Farrell. 

The Italians will be expected to concede penalty after penalty due to the speed of England's quick ball, and the 22-year-old Saracens fly-half will have to kick perfectly. 

England were not fancied at the start of the tournament with injuries to key players, which forced them to select a less experienced squad.

But The Telegraph's chief sports writer, Paul Hayward, explained his thoughts on how a consistent selection has benefited England in this competition:

A handful of first-choice England players have missed out on the upsurge against Scotland, Ireland and Wales, after a botched start in Paris that has left Ireland favourites to become Six Nations champions this season: [Marland] Yarde, Christian Wade, Alex Corbisiero, Geoff Parling, Manu Tuilagi.

In defeat, England would be saying these talents were sorely missed. In victory, Stuart Lancaster’s settled XV have made the shirts their own.

TWICKENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 11:  Stuart Lancaster, the England head coach looks on during the England training session held at Twickenham Stadium on March 11, 2014 in Twickenham, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Lancaster's boys have shown ruthless aggression during every match in this Six Nations, and that will not change on Saturday. They are likely to put on a five-star performance and go for the jugular. 

However, it might not be enough. Luther Burrell can continue his try-scoring exploits, and Farrell can kick all day long, but England have only a slim chance of overcoming their points-difference advantage. 

Prediction: England win, 50-7


Wales v Scotland

CARDIFF, WALES - NOVEMBER 14:  Wales player Mike Phillips faces the press during the Wales team announcement press conference at the Vale on November 14, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

A game of pride, and pride alone, takes place in Cardiff on Saturday, as the fallen champions of Wales meet an improving Scotland side. 

The Welsh will be looking to give their fans something to cheer about on the last day of the championship, as they surrender the title they have held for two years running. 

Experienced scrum-half Mike Phillips, who was dropped for the games against France and England, returns to the fold, per BBC Sport. The British and Irish Lion will be keen to put in a top-class performance and win his starting spot back permanently. 

He said to BBC Sport:

It's great to have the opportunity again to play and hopefully it can be a great day for Wales. Nobody likes to be put on the bench and out of the team. It's not nice is it? But you've got to get on with it and I've got a chance this week now to show my stuff - you've got to back yourself.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 08: Scott Lawson of Scotland passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium on March 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Scotland will take heart from their match against France in the last round, having been narrowly defeated 19-17. Their best form could heap yet more misery on Warren Gatland and his team.

But with Phillips back, Wales will have a direct approach and should complete the victory at the Millennium Stadium.

Prediction: Wales win, 27-12


France v Ireland

Peter Morrison/Associated Press

It is fitting that the last scheduled match of the 2014 Six Nations should be the decider.

France face Ireland knowing that only a win can see them as champions, but only in the unlikely event that Italy shock a confident and fluid England side.

Beating Ireland will likely only handed the title to Stuart Lancaster's men.

Ireland have been the most consistent team over the whole series and have the extra motivation of giving legend O'Driscoll the most perfect send-off possible.

O'Driscoll was man of the match in the last round against Italy and will make his 141st and final Test appearance at the Stade de France, per BBC Sport.

The last time the Irish won in Paris in 2000 it was O'Driscoll who inspired his team to victory, scoring a hat-trick of tries.

Ireland know exactly what they need to do in this match, and they will be hoping that the inconsistent French side that we have seen this year turns up for the match. 

Flanker Peter O'Mahony returns for the Irish and is the only change to the team, per BBC Sport, meaning they are at full strength. 

Despite being joint top, it is likely that we will not see a hugely motivated France team on Saturday. They know in their hearts they probably will not win this championship and will concede the emotional edge to Ireland.

O'Driscoll is destined to make it his perfect moment, ending one of the northern hemisphere's greatest rugby careers with victory.

Prediction: Ireland win 18-12