Belgium were crowned European Nations Cup Division 1B champions last weekend after Nicolas Meeus' late penalty secured them the title with a 10-9 win aaginst Moldova.
The Black Devils will now be promoted to the top tier where they will replace either Germany or Portugal. Both sides are currently tied on six points at the foot of the table with one round of fixtures to go.
With the head-to-head record determining league positions if points are equal, Germany's 50-27 win over Os Lobos in round three could prove crucial in the final shake-up.
Both are at home on the final weekend with Germany taking on Spain and Portugal up against Russia.
Belgium, meanwhile, travel to Poland on Saturday for their final Division 1B fixture knowing that any form of victory will be enough for them to move up a couple of places to 23rd in the World Rugby Rankings – if combined with a defeat or a draw for Germany.
EUROPEAN NATIONS CUP DIVISION 1A
The matches will be streamed live by Rugby Europe on their platform rugbyeurope.tv
Germany v Spain
Germany have played Spain 10 times previously, dating back to the first meeting in 1929, and have lost the last four. Their only victory in the post-War period came in a Rugby World Cup 2007 qualifier when they defeated Spain 18-6.
A brace of tries apiece for Julen Goia Iriberri and Guillaume Rouet helped Spain to an emphatic 48-16 victory for Los Leones when the sides met in Madrid last year.
- Spain have scored as many tries as they have conceded (10) in this European Nations Cup.
- Germany lost 17 Division 1A games in a row before breaking their duck against Portugal.
Spain, in 22nd, are currently one place above Germany in the rankings. Germany cannot leapfrog their opponents though, even with an emphatic victory, due to the 3.2 rating points difference between the two.
A win by more than 15 points will, however, bring them to within 0.14 of a point of Los Leones. Spain, meanwhile, stand to gain a fraction under a point which would move them above Namibia and into 21st place. They could even leapfrog Russia too, if they win well.
Portugal v Russia
Portugal met Russia as recently as November 2015, in the Hong Kong Cup of Nations, and it was the Bears who came out on top then, 23-12. There was a similar margin between the sides in last year's European Nations Cup encounter, Russia claiming a 21-8 victory in Sochi.
Russia are on a five-game winning streak against Os Lobos and have won 12 of the previous 18 encounters. Portugal have won five with one draw, in 2006.
- Portugal’s largest winning margin in fixtures against Russia is 11 points. The rest of their wins have all been by three points or less.
- Vladimir Simonov holds the Russian record for most points in a match against Portugal with 18 (set in April 2002).
- Playmaker Yury Kushnarev became Russia’s most-capped player after making his 78th appearance in last weekend’s win over Germany.
It is possible for Portugal to improve their current ranking by six places and move up to 24th in the world as 2.21 points are on offer for an emphatic victory by more than 15 points. That would take them above Chile, Ukraine, Kenya, Korea, Hong Kong and newly-crowned Division 1B champions Belgium if the Black Devils fail to register a victory away to Poland. Russia would drop one or two places depending on the margin of defeat.
A sixth-straight Russian victory over Portugal will result in them picking up 0.53 of a rating point – enough to take them above Uruguay and into 19th place.
Romania v Georgia
Whenever Romania come up against Georgia at this stage of the season, the title is normally on the line. However, this time around there is nothing more than pride to play for as Georgia hold an unassailable six-point lead over the Oaks at the top of the table.
Continuing where they left off from their impressive Rugby World Cup 2015 campaigns, these East Europeann powerhouses have won all four of their matches in 2016 and boast very similar playing records. Romania have scored 151 points to Georgia’s 150 but the Lelos have the marginal advantage in the try-scoring department with 20 tries to their rivals 19.
This will be the 20th meeting between the two, Georgia holding the upper hand in the head-to-head with 10 wins to Romania’s eight and one draw. The last of Romania’s wins came in Bucharest in 2010, although they did hold the six-time champions to a 9-9 draw at the same venue three years later.
Last season’s clash was a typically cagey affair which ended in a 15-6 win for Georgia, Lelos full-back Merab Kvirikashvili kicking all of his side’s points.
- Neither side has scored more than 25 points in the last seven games. The highest score in a single match is 35 by Romania in 2006.
- The first meeting between the two came on neutral territory in a RWC 1999 qualifier at the old Lansdowne Road in Dublin, on 18 November, 1998.
- Romania haven’t scored a try against Georgia since Daniel Carpo crossed during the Division 1A encounter of 2012 at the stadionul National Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest – 312 playing minutes ago.
Georgia go into the match ranked four places higher than Romania in 12th, meaning a win for the Oaks comes with potentially big rewards. A first win in seven matches against the Lelos will earn Romania enough points to bring them to within seven tenths of Samoa in 15th. A winning margin of more than 15 points will take them above the Pacific Islanders. With defeat, Georgia stand to swap places with 14th-placed Italy.
Georgia will get marginal gains in terms of their rating – but not their position in the rankings – if they record a seventh straight win over the Oaks.
France v England
England will be desperate to avoid lifting the Six Nations trophy on the back of a defeat, just as they did the last time they won the Championship in 2011. Ireland destroyed England’s Grand Slam hopes six years ago in Dublin to create an anti-climactic end to what had been an otherwise unblemished season under Martin Johnson.
Indeed, England’s recent record in the final game of a Grand Slam assault is poor. They have only one of their last six opportunities, and that was in 2003, with all matches being played away from home.
France will be hoping to the party-poopers this time around as they seek to end this season’s Championship with a third straight home victory following earlier wins at the Stade de France over Italy and Ireland. Les Bleus have on four previous occasions stopped an opponent from claiming a Grand Slam, beating England, Wales and Ireland in Paris in 1954, 1965 and 1982 respectively, and Wales in Cardiff in 1988.
- This is the first time the Six Nations title has been decided with a round to go.
- Owen Farrell is the top points scorer so far with 53 and also has the best current success rate, having knocked over his last eight shots at goal.
- The two top offloaders in the 2016 Six Nations are both Frenchmen – Virimi Vakatawa with 10 and Maxime Medard with seven. In fact, the French team have claimed almost 40 per cent of the total offloads this campaign.
- The top ball carrier so far is Billy Vunipola with 75 carries, nine clear of his closest rival.
Wales held onto fourth position in the rankings despite being beaten by fifth-place England at Twickenham last weekend. However, a Grand Slam-winning England will see them replace their Celtic rivals as the northern hemisphere’s top ranked team irrespective of the result between Wales and Italy in Cardiff earlier in the day.
If England bow out in style and score a bucket load of points, as they did against Les Bleus in last season’s thrill-a-minute finale, the 1.39 rankings points on offer will boost their rating to 84.45 points – still more than three points behind third-placed South Africa.
Any form of defeat at the Stade de France will result in England dropping below Argentina and into sixth place, with France moving up one place to seventh if they manage to put significant daylight between themselves and their visitors on the scoreboard.
Wales v Italy
Injury-hit Italy hope to give departing coach Jacques Brunel a leaving present to remember with a first-ever victory over Wales in Cardiff in what is also his 50th game in charge of the team.
Italy are already resigned to picking up an 11th wooden spoon in 17 years – their third on Brunel’s watch – and have to face Wales without their star back, Michele Campagnaro, after the Exeter Chiefs centre suffered a minor knee ligament injury in the 58-15 defeat to Ireland last weekend.
Wales are set for their best finish since they last won the title in 2013 and have won their last five tests at the Principality Stadium.
- Jacques Brunel has agreed a three-year contract to take over as Begles-Bordeaux forwards coach for the 2016-17 season.
- Wales last finished second in the table in 1980.
- George North has made the most metres with 325, 10 metres more than England’s Mike Brown.
Wales’ ranking and points total will be unchanged in victory but a maiden win for Italy will see them restored to 12th place and see the Welsh fall as many as three places depending on other results.
Ireland v Scotland
Scotland will consign dethroned champions Ireland to a fifth-place finish – the worst defence of any Championship since France went from Grand Slam winners to wooden spoonists in the space of 12 months between 1998 and 1999 – if they win in Dublin for the first time since 2010.
With victory, Scotland will finish in the top half of the table for only the fourth time since the Championship was expanded to include Italy in 2000. To finish in second place for the first time in Six Nations history, Scotland need to win and hope Wales are held to a draw by Italy, as they were back in 2006.
It is possible for Ireland to finish anywhere between fifth and second, although they’d need to beat Scotland and rely on two away wins in the other fixtures to claim the runners-up spot.
Recent history points to a home win as Scotland have only won once in Dublin since 1998 and Ireland are unbeaten in their last eight Six Nations encounters at the Aviva Stadium – their best ever home run in the history of the Championship.
- Johnny Sexton needs two points to overtake David Humphreys as Ireland’s second highest points scorer in history.
- Robbie Henshaw has carried the ball more than any other back, making 258 metres from 55 carries so far.
- Jonny Gray has made the most tackles in the first four rounds with 59. He has yet to miss one, but injury has ruled him out of this match.
Ireland can only climb up the rankings from their present position of seventh if they beat Scotland by more than 15 points, in tandem with an England victory over France and an emphatic win for Italy in Cardiff.
If Scotland can translate their new-found confidence into a third victory, they will move above Ireland, and possibly France, on the back of a 1.37 points gain.
An emphatic Scotland victory, combined with wins for England and Italy by more than 15 points, will result in them equalling their previous best ranking of sixth and an Irish slide to ninth.