Current form and past history suggest that three home wins could be on the cards this weekend as the Men’s Six Nations reaches a critical point.

Defending champions Ireland and France go into their respective matches against winless opposition in Wales and Italy as overwhelming favourites, while Scotland’s record of just one defeat in six to England would appear to give them a slight advantage.

The Calcutta Cup match at Murrayfield is the one game where both teams could climb the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini in victory, given their close proximity to one another in terms of position and points.

England head north the higher ranked of the teams in fifth place, 2.66 points better off than their hosts in sixth, knowing that fourth place is theirs for the taking if they can reclaim the Calcutta Cup with a win by more than 15 points.

England last achieved such a margin of victory at Murrayfield in 2014, and with another weekend of wet weather forecast, it will take some doing. Also, this fixture is historically a low-scoring, tight affair. The average winning margin in the last five matches to end in a positive result is just six points.

Of course, all this is presuming France beat Italy – as they have done for the last 14 games in a  run that stretches to 11 years. But if Les Bleus fail to do that in Lille on Sunday, England will move up to fourth irrespective of the margin of their victory.

France could drop as many as two places to sixth if they lose to 11th-ranked Italy by more than 15 points and Scotland retain the Calcutta Cup with a win by the same margin. Unsurprisingly, such a scenario would have a major impact on the rankings as it would see Scotland climb to an historic high of fourth.

If France win then Scotland must win by more than 15 points to swap places with England and equal their highest-ever ranking of fifth. A lesser margin would see Scotland retain the Calcutta Cup but not climb above the Auld Enemy in the rankings, a status they enjoyed for much of last year until England reached the quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 2023 and they did not.

Like France, Ireland cannot improve their position or points tally in victory this weekend. However, Ireland, sitting six places and 12.57 ratings points above Wales before home weighting is factored in, will surrender second place if beaten by more than 15 points in Dublin.

Again, this is not something that happens often in their Aviva Stadium fortress – to any opponent, not just Wales. Ireland are currently on an incredible 17-game record winning run there, with only South Africa in November 2022 managing to finish within seven points of them during that spell.

Ireland have won 38 of their last 40 games at the Aviva Stadium in all over the past eight years, while Wales last tasted victory there in the Men’s Six Nations 12 years ago. George North was the hero with the winning try back then and he is the only survivor from that day in the visitors’ squad.

If Wales beat Ireland in the earlier of Saturday’s two matches by more than 15 points – a margin of victory they have only achieved twice before in Dublin (1910 and 1976) – and Scotland are beaten in the game that follows, Wales will climb two places to sixth with Scotland falling to seventh.

Of course, Wales would take any win at this stage and if the result does go in their favour they are guaranteed to move up one place to seventh, above Argentina.

Italy, meanwhile, are assured of a place in the top 10 for the first time since June 2013 if they leave France with at least a draw.

A first Men’s Six Nations win for the Azzurri against Les Bleus in France would lift them above Australia into ninth, leaving the Wallabies in their joint-worst position of 10th.