The Women’s Six Nations resumes on Saturday, 24 October with Ireland v Italy, followed a day later by the other outstanding round four match, Scotland v France.

A full set of round five fixtures will then take place on 1 November, while the championship concludes with the remaining round three match between Italy and Scotland on 6 December, 2020, which will double up as an RWC 2021 European qualifier.

Defending champions England are currently top of the standings on 19 points with four wins from four, with France, who they beat in Pau on the opening weekend, their nearest rivals on 11 points with two wins from three.

France know that anything less than victory against Scotland in their first game back will present England with their third Women’s Six Nations trophy in four years.

However, Les Bleues will be confident of keeping the title race alive for at least one more week as they are on a 10-match winning streak against the Scots dating back to 2010.

The match at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow will see Bryan Easson take charge of Scotland for the first time, having replaced Philip Doyle as interim head coach after the Irishman stood down due to shielding from COVID-19 on medical grounds.

Middle ground

A day earlier, two teams in the middle of the standings will have come face to face in Ireland and Italy.

With the eagerly-awaited Rugby Europe Rugby World Cup 2021 qualification tournament on the horizon, both Ireland and Italy will be looking to produce a big performance when they meet at Energia Park in Dublin.

Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and the winner of the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2020 – either Spain, the Netherlands or Russia – will compete for the region’s ticket to New Zealand across the first three weekends of December.

Ireland finished outside of the top three in the Women’s Six Nations for the first time in 11 years in 2019 and will be out to avenge last year’s agonising 29-27 loss to the Azzurre.

Victory would secure them third place – an improvement of two places – irrespective of how they fare away to France in round five, in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, on 1 November.

Six Nations decider

Defending champions England round off their campaign on the same day with a match against Italy in Parma and only need a draw – unless France win well in both their remaining fixtures and overhaul a points differential of 66 – to be certain of finishing top.

The Red Roses have never lost in 19 previous outings against the Azzurre, but head coach Simon Middleton won’t allow complacency to creep in.

“The Italy fixture is a massively important game and a Six Nations decider for us,” he said.

“We look forward to preparing for the game and representing England again.”

In the remaining round five fixture, former London Irish scrum-half Darren Edwards starts his reign as interim Wales head coach with a visit from Scotland, the side immediately above them in the standings.

Wales need to win otherwise they will prop up the standings for the second time in three years.

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