RUGBY UNION - On Saturday, 17 March, the grand finale of the 2012 Six Nations season will take place in stadiums across Europe. In the feature match Wales host France in a bid to clinch their third Grand Slam in the Six Nations era. Click below for previews on all three matches.
Italy v Scotland, Saturday 17 March, 13:30 CET, Stadio Olimpico, Rome
> The loser of this match will collect the Wooden Spoon. In the event of a draw, it will go to Italy.
> In the previous 12 Six Nations seasons, the Wooden Spoon has been ‘won’ by either Italy or Scotland in all but one season – 2003 when Wales finished last.
> In the last 10 years, Scotland have played four matches in Italy, losing three and winning once (13-10 on 18 March 2006).
> Andy Robinson’s track record in 14 Six Nations matches leading Scotland is two wins, one draw and 11 defeats. The last of the two victories was last year’s match against Italy.
Wales v France, Saturday 17 March, 15:45 CET, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
> This is the fifth year in a row that there has been a Grand Slam match. The 5N/6N record is 12 years in a row from 1994 to 2005.
> This is Wales’ ninth match at home in which they could win the Grand Slam. They have only lost one of these (9-10 v France in 1988 after which Wales and France shared the Five Nations).
> Warren Gatland can become the sixth coach to conquer two Grand Slams. John Dawes (1976, 1978) was the first to do that and until now the only one to accomplish the feat with Wales. The others are Jacques Fouroux (France – 1981, 1987), Geoff Cooke (England - 1991, 1992), Jean-Claude Skrela (France – 1997, 1998) and Bernard Laporte (France – 2002, 2004), which would make Gatland the first coach from the southern hemisphere to achieve it.
> If Wesley Fofana scores a try against Wales, he will equal a northern hemisphere record which dates back 114 years. The only NH player to score a try in his first five Test matches was England’s Tot Robinson from 1897 to 1900. Doug Howlett is the world record holder amongst the Tier I nations with tries in his first seven Tests between 2000 and 2001.
England v Ireland, Saturday 17 March, 18:00 CET, Twickenham, London
> England will have to wait until kickoff time to know whether their match against Wales will have any trophy implications. Wales must lose, England must win and somehow repair the 38-point differential gap that separates them and Wales. Wales have not been beaten at home by France by more than seven points since 2000.
> Stuart Lancaster can end his first Six Nations campaign with only one defeat. He would be the first England manager to lose just one match in his first season in the Six Nations era. The last to lose just one in his debut season was Clive Woodward in 1998.
> Ireland have won 69% (44 of 64) of their Six Nations matches historically, but only 42% (5 of 12) of their matches that concluded a season. England are also performing worse in final matches (50%) than in all matches (66%).
> If Tommy Bowe manages another try, he will equal the 6N era season record of six by Greenwood (2001), Shane Williams (2008) and Ashton last year. If he manages two tries, it will be the most by anyone in a 5N/6N season since 1925.