The final round countdown. One Super Saturday. A Grand Slam and the Six Nations title tantalisingly in the grip of Warren Gatland’s Wales as they face Joe Schmidt’s defending champions Ireland in Cardiff.
Elsewhere, Eddie Jones’ England are apparently out to write a few perceived wrongs against Gregor Townsend’s Scotland at Twickenham, and Conor O’Shea’s Italy could rub salt in a few open French wounds in Rome.
But the most important questions for ESPN’s Fantasy Rugby managers — in their final push for private league glory, year-long bragging rights, and prizes — are answered below.
Saturday, March 16, 12.30pm GMT — Italy vs France
Saturday, March 16, 2.45pm GMT — Wales vs Ireland
Saturday, March 16, 5pm GMT — England vs Scotland
Where am I going to score points?
There are points available almost everywhere this week. The warm and sunny weather in Rome looks perfect for running rugby, which should mean plenty of tries — and Fantasy Rugby points — on offer at that match … assuming the visitors can get their act together.
Sadly, there’s a weather warning in place for Cardiff, which could put the mockers on a game truly worthy of the second and third-ranked sides in the world. But it’s forecast to be dry in London, so those attacking runners in English and Scottish ranks should be able to put on the afterburners.
Who should I leave out?
After his man-of-the-match performance last week, Joe Cokanasiga is a surprise omission from Eddie Jones’ England squad for Scotland’s trip to Twickenham but, to be fair, Jack Nowell was seriously impressive against Ireland and France.
As England are going pretty well, the four changes Jones made, which include Ben T’eo dropping to the bench in favour of Henry Slade, is the sign of a deeply strong squad. For sides not going so well like France, with their six changes, it’s the sign of a struggling coach.
Who should I bring in?
Jack Nowell, for definite. And Jamie George, who’s quietly gone about picking up 29 front row points, 10 more than any other front row player. After that, pick locks and loose forwards primarily from Wales vs. Ireland. Tadhg Beirne and Alun Wyn Jones would make a strong pairing, while Josh Navidi, Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric vs. Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander and Sean O’Brien promises to be beyond brutal at the breakdown… though you may want to find room for Scotland’s Hamish Watson.
Backs, as much as possible, should come from England vs. Scotland. All that should get you a sackload of points on the final day. If you can afford the points hit that comes with changing more than three players, fill any gaps with Antoine Dupont, Jake Polledri — in his first Six Nations start — and other French and Italian blood of your choice.
Who should be my kicker?
Stick to the tried and trusted. Owen Farrell, if you’ve kept faith with him all tournament, has scored a sackload of points, and while Johnny Sexton has not been at his World Rugby Player of the Year best, he’s still scored steadily.
If you’re feeling brave, however, Tomasso Allan could get a few for Italy courtesy of French indiscipline. Speaking of France, they are on their third starting kicker in five matches — with 19-year-old Romain Ntamack given the job for the match against Italy. He’s decent enough, and could get plenty of shots in Rome, but it’s a brave Fantasy Rugby manager who goes with him.