France on verge of Grand Slam success

France (2/7 – Tournament Outright) could already be crowned Six Nations champions by the time they kick off against England on Saturday night, while victory over Eddie Jones’ team would also seal the Grand Slam.

Les Bleus are chasing their first Six Nations and Grand Slam success in 12 years and having already seen off Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales, now only England stand in their way of achieving that goal (France 1/3, England 11/4, Tie 25/1 – Match Betting).

Ireland (11/4 – Tournament Outright) can still deny Fabien Galthie’s side the title, but they must beat Scotland earlier on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium to keep those hopes alive, if they don’t then France will already have reason to celebrate ahead of their Test at the Stade de France (Ireland 1/8, Scotland 7/1, Tie 33/1 – Match Betting).

Winning the Grand Slam will of course be the icing on the cake for France, and assistant coach Shaun Edwards (pictured), who achieved the feat three times as a coach with Wales, knows the pressure will be on regardless of the results from earlier in the day.

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“England are a world-class team who I thought were absolutely outstanding with 14 players against Ireland,” Edwards said, as per the BBC.

“Any team with Ellis Genge and Maro Itoje is going to be formidable. We know we’re in for a battle royal. Add to that this is France’s biggest match since the 2011 World Cup final, a chance to win a trophy for the first time in 12 years.

“There’s pressure but if you’re playing at this level and you can’t take pressure, you’re in the wrong place. You should be doing something else. You have to enjoy the spotlight, relish the heat. A day like this is what you play rugby for.”

England put up a strong showing in defeat to Ireland last time out despite playing the majority of the match with 14 men following the sending off of lock Charlie Ewels, but they are in a battle to avoid finishing fifth in the final standings for the third time under Eddie Jones.

Like England, Scotland could finish as high as third or as low as fifth, with head coach Gregor Townsend having made the brave decision to drop fly-half Finn Russell for the clash with Ireland – Blair Kinghorn has taken his place.

The early kick off will see Wales host Italy at the Principality Stadium. Wayne Pivac’s side have long since lost their grip on the title they won 12 months ago, but they will be looking to sign off with a victory against whipping boys Italy, who are on a 36-game losing run in the competition (Wales 1/100, Italy 20/1, Tie 50/1 – Match Betting).

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Author: Paula Allen