Ireland welcome Scotland the Dublin this weekend for the fourth leg of this year’s Six Nations. Ireland will be looking to effectively seal the Six Nations with a big win this weekend, whilst Scotland will be looking to try and replicate their home strength with an away win.
Our computer model has Ireland as strong favourites at home. Scotland’s difficulties travelling are well documented, but they have a particularly bad record in Dublin. Combined with Ireland’s current form and strength, and home advantage, leads us to predict a comfortable 31 – 18 Irish win.
Ireland and Scotland have met 133 times with Scotland leading the head-to-head 67 to 61, and five draws. Momentum has swung back and forth in this fixture; Scotland dominated the early years up until the 1930s before Ireland made a comeback, winning all but five of the 27 matches between 1925 and 1960. Scotland then found some form in the 80s and 90s, only losing once between 1985 and 2000. In Six Nations years however, the Irish have had more success, winning 14 of the 18 matches played, and all but one at home.
Potential Rankings Movement
Should Ireland see off Scotland in the fashion we predict they stand to gain a small amount (up 0.42 to 87.64) in the World Rankings, but not enough to catch England should they also beat France. However, should the Scots or the French prevail, there could be some big movements in the rankings come Monday. Below are a few of the possible outcomes.
If Scotland and England win then Scotland would rise to third taking 1.58 points from the Irish who descend to fourth.
If Ireland and France win then Ireland would rise to second, 0.14 above the English in third who would swap 1.88 ranking points with France who would rise to eighth.
If Scotland and France win then Scotland would rise to third, Ireland descend to fourth and England remain in second, but with a reduced lead.
Ireland can all but seal the Six Nations this weekend with a bonus point win over Scotland. Should they take the maximum five points available by scoring four tries or more in the match, they would leave England requiring the maximum ten points from their two remaining fixtures, a tall task indeed with away games to France and then home to Ireland. England would also need to overcome the points difference, which is likely to be around 32 points, i.e. England 53 – 20 Ireland (although unlikely, this has actually happened before, in 2000 and 2002, when England won by 32 and 34 points respectively.) Because of all these factors our computer model gives Ireland an 84% chance of taking the title, and a 50% chance of sealing it this weekend.
Ireland will also be looking to set a new consecutive win record with a victory over the Scots this weekend. Currently they are on ten wins in a row, which puts them equal with their previous best set between 2002-2003 and 2014-2015. Interestingly, that 02-03 previous best was part of a run of 20 games in which the Irish only lost 2 games, England clearly weren’t the only strong European side at the time.
Scotland will be trying to translate the home form that saw them take a famous victory against England into the rarest of Six Nations occurrences; an away win (that’s not in Rome). Scotland have won nine from their last ten games at home, losing only to the All Blacks, and then by just five points. However, their away form leaves much to be desired, with just five wins (two each Japan and Italy, and one against Australia) from their last 11 games.
Their record in Dublin is worse, with just one win there in Six Nations history, back in 2010, a last minute Dan Parks penalty saving them from wooden spoon blushes. Ireland have a strong home record at the moment as well, with just one loss (to New Zealand) from their last 16 games at home, and their last home Six Nations defeat back in 2013 to England. All this leads us to believe that Ireland should see off Scotland relatively comfortably this weekend, set their new consecutive win record and head to England the following weekend to try and win the Grand Slam in Twickenham.