Six Nations 2023 Round Three predictions: Italy vs Ireland, Wales vs England and France vs Scotland rugby tips

Rugby’s Greatest Championship returns on Saturday as the leaders head to Rome and Warren Gatland’s turmoil struck Wales host Steve Borthwick’s England.

It feels like an age since the last round of the 2023 Six Nations took place but the action is back this weekend with three more exciting fixtures after the players took a much needed rest.

Saturday starts off with Ireland looking to keep their Grand Slam bid on track in Rome where they will face Italy, who suffered a bruising defeat to England before the break. That match will be followed by one of the fiercest contests in world rugby as England head to Cardiff where Steve Borthwick is looking for his first away win as England coach against a turmoil struck Wales. The weekend ends on Sunday in Paris where France welcome Scotland who have had a brilliant start to their campaign this year with two wins from two. Here are our match predictions for Round Three of the 2023 Six Nations Championship:

Italy vs Ireland

Ireland proved themselves to be every bit the best team in the world in Round Two and backed up their number one ranking with a 32-19 win over France in Dublin. From their first two performances it seems clear that the Championship is theirs to lose and that the ultimate prize of the Grand Slam is within reach. To win the big one they’re going to have to overcome Scotland and England later in the tournament but right now the focus is fully on Italy.

This one has the potential to be little more than a banana skin for Andy Farrell’s side. With all respect to Italy who are showing great improvement and really positive signs for the future, there’s little evidence to suggest they will be able to hold off the Irish onslaught in Rome this weekend. If they are going to be competitive it needs to be for the full 80 minutes like they were against France rather than just for periods of the game like against England and mistakes will need to be cut out.

Our prediction: Ireland to win by 20 points or more. As much as they showed what they are capable of at home to France in the opening round, it’s hard to see this one going any other way apart from a convincing win for the visitors. A similar result to the opening weekend dismantling of Wales in Cardiff seems more than achievable for Ireland.

Wales vs England

There’s still a very real chance this match might not go ahead with Wales players threatening to strike but Warren Gatland has said he is ‘hopeful’ a resolution can be found. If it is then there will need to be a significant rise in performance levels from the Welsh players after the first two weekends as losing heavily at home to England would be devastating for supporters. There are so many things going on in Welsh rugby at the minute that it would certainly be nice for the fanbase to have something to cheer about.

England will have had to drown out the background noise and not let it impact their preparations and doing so will probably give them a serious advantage. Steve Borthwick got his first win as head coach under his belt against Italy in round two. A trip to Cardiff is usually a far more daunting prospect but the signs of improvement are good.

Our prediction: England by 10 points or more. It’s just too difficult to imagine that everything going on in Wales will not have seriously hampered the players’ preparations. That being said, having England visiting the Principality Stadium could light a fire under them at least for this weekend. It still feels like England should capitalise on the turmoil plaguing their neighbours to claim victory in this one.

France vs Scotland

Quite possibly the hardest match of the weekend to predict with France having both home advantage and the bulk of the same group of players from last year’s Grand Slam winning side going up against Scotland who have had a brilliant start to this year’s tournament. Although the French did lose in Dublin last weekend there won’t be too much concern in Paris given how strong they looked despite failing to get the win. It was one of the best first halves of Rugby in recent memories when the two best sides in the world at the moment went head-to-head and Ireland just had enough to tip the scales in their favour in the second half.

Meanwhile, Scotland emerged as credible title challengers for the first time in a long time by backing up their opening weekend win over England with a victory against Wales. Finn Russell has been one of if not the player of the tournament so far and was outstanding in the 35-7 victory over Wales. Going to Paris and winning is a big ask, it’s not beyond this talented Scotland side but there is unlikely to be an inquiry if they do fall short.

Our prediction: France by 10 points or less. We expect France will just have a bit too much for the Scots with home advantage likely to play a huge part - as it always does in Paris. Scotland will be expected to put up a brave fight and keeping the match competitive for the full 80 minutes would be an achievement to take positives from.