We look ahead to Sunday’s 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium with our England vs Ireland prediction and preview.

There is a certain sense of déjà vu ahead of this clash between England and Ireland. Andy Farrell’s men travel to Twickenham on the back of an 11-game winning streak in the Guinness Men’s Six Nations, the joint-best run by any nation in the history of the Championship (incl. Home/Five Nations), level with England who managed it between 2015 and 2017.

Back then it was England who made the trip across the Irish Sea, sitting on a record winning run and eyeing up the prospect of becoming the first team in Six Nations history to record back-to-back Grand Slams. Ireland ended those hopes in style back in 2017, although Eddie Jones’ side still won the Championship. Could it be England’s turn to spoil the party this time around?

Recent years have seen fairly comfortable victories in this fixture, with the last eight Test meetings between the sides being decided by margins of 10+ points. England won the first four games of that eight-game spell, with Ireland winning the most recent four and hoping to win a fifth consecutive Test against England for the first time since the 1970s (W5, 1972-76).

Ireland lost their first three away matches in the Six Nations under Farrell, but have since won seven of eight on the road including the last five in a row. Meanwhile, England scraped past Wales in their previous match at Twickenham and will be aiming to win all of their home games in an edition of the Championship for the first time since 2020. Twickenham isn’t quite the fortress it once was, but Steve Borthwick’s side will surely enjoy the underdog status and the appeal of spoiling a record-breaking opportunity for Ireland.


Ireland and England have been two of the most effective ball-carrying nations in the Championship this year, recording the first and second-best dominant carry rates respectively (Ireland – 30%, England – 26%).

Ireland have used that physicality to force their way over the advantage line more effectively than any other side, recording a Championship high gainline success rate of 55%. England, meanwhile, have been able to draw in defenders more effectively than any side, with 63% of their carries committing two or more tacklers, the best rate of any team this year.

Dominant Carry Rate - Six Nations 2024

Both sides’ effective ball-carrying has helped give them territory in dangerous areas of the pitch, with Ireland (30) and England (29) making at least 22 more entries than any other sides in the Six Nations this year. It’s a similar story in defence with Ireland (13) and England (19) also conceding the fewest 22 entries.

Ireland are also the best-performing team when it comes to points scored (3.4) and conceded (1.6) per 22 entry.


The same can’t be said of England’s efficiency in the 22, however. Despite sitting just behind Ireland for both ‘red zone’ entries made and conceded, they sit bottom of the pile when it comes to points scored (1.8) and conceded (3.1) per entry.

Creating danger from 22 entries - six nations 2024

Part of the reason for England conceding so many points each time the opposition gets into the red zone is that they have the lowest tackle success rate in the Championship (85%) and while their blitz defence is still a work in progress under the watchful eye of Felix Jones – a two time World Cup-winning coach – they will need to hope they are closer to the finished article when they face an Irish side that has the most polished attack in the Six Nations.

Farrell’s men aren’t without their weaknesses, however, and their lack of discipline so far this Championship will be of concern to the coaching staff. They have conceded 37 penalties in 2024, at least five more than any other nation, with England conceding the fewest (20).

Ireland are also the only nation to concede over half of their penalties for infringements at the ruck (51%, 19/37), somewhat dispelling the idea that the Irish breakdown is policed more leniently to other sides so far in this year’s Championship. One suspects that Ireland may tighten up their discipline if the game is close however, with 81% of their penalties coming once they’ve established a 10-point lead or more.

Standout Players

One of Ireland’s standout performers so far this year has been Dan Sheehan, who is one of just two players to have crossed the try line more than twice this campaign, doing so four times (also Duhan van der Merwe – 5). No forward has ever scored more in an edition of the Championship (since 2000) with Sheehan currently tied with Imanol Harinordoquy, who scored four in 2004.

Overall, he’s scored seven tries in the Six Nations, already the most for a hooker, with his score against Wales in Round 3 taking him past his opposite number this weekend, Jamie George (6).

Incidentally, Sheehan (94%) and George (91%) rank first and third respectively for lineout success rate in Six Nations history (min. 50 throws, Jerry Flannery second on 92%) and no doubt both players will see this facet of their game put under maximum pressure this weekend.

In team news, England welcome fly-half Marcus Smith back into the squad, while Immanuel Feyi-Waboso finally gets a first start for England, with the duo being two of the most devastating runners in domestic rugby this season. Smith has evaded 71% of the tackles he’s faced in the Premiership in 2023-24 – England teammate Ollie Lawrence is the only other player with a rate of 60% or better (63%).

Meanwhile, Feyi-Waboso has recorded a dominant carry rate of 77% in the English top flight this campaign, also the best of any player, just ahead of Elliot Daly (74%) with Lawrence again flying high (73.7%, fourth best).

England vs Ireland Prediction

The Opta supercomputer makes Ireland favourites ahead of kick-off in London, giving them an 80.8% chance of winning. It fancies them to continue their recent head-to-head superiority, predicting they win by a 32-14 scoreline.

England vs Ireland prediction - Six Nations

England vs Ireland Lineups

England: 15. George Furbank, 14. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13. Henry Slade, 12. Ollie Lawrence, 11. Tommy Freeman, 10. George Ford, 9. Alex Mitchell, 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Jamie George, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. George Martin, 6. Ollie Chessum, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Ben Earl

Replacements: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Will Stuart, 19. Chandler Cunningham-South, 20. Alex Dombrandt, 21. Danny Care, 22. Marcus Smith, 23. Elliot Daly

Ireland: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Calvin Nash, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. James Lowe, 10. Jack Crowley, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park, 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Dan Sheehan, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Joe McCarthy, 5. Tadhg Beirne, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Caelan Doris

Replacements: 16. Ronan Kelleher, 17. Cian Healy, 18. Finlay Bealham,19. Iain Henderson, 20. Ryan Baird, 21. Jack Conan, 22. Conor Murray, 23. Ciaran Frawley

Other Six Nations Round 4 Fixtures:

Italy v Scotland – Stadio Olimpico, Rome – Saturday 9 March, 14:15 GMT

Wales v France – Principality Stadium, Cardiff – Sunday 10 March, 15:00 GMT

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