The six 6Nations captains before the tournament started...; Credit: World Rugby

This weekend sees their fourth and penultimate weekend of matches in this year's 6Nations rugby tournament.

Already packed with drama, mainly on but also off the field, this weekend sees three fascinating tied.

First up on Saturday sees 5th place Italy host 6th place Wales, with the loser most likely to prop up the table at the end of the tournament, winning the "wooden spoon" accolade in the process. While Italy have vastly improved - not only in this tournament but in the second half of last year when they claimed a couple of notable scalps in the Autumn Internationals - they have lost their three games to date. Nevertheless, along the way, they have scored six tries and have played with both determination and skill. Their most exciting, and dangerous play, fullback Capuozzo is injured for the remainder of the tournament. This could be crucial for Wales who have lost their three opening games and have not even picked up a losing bonus point. The Welsh have just scored three tries in three games, despite Warren Gatland back at the helm again. However, the off-field issues around Wales' Rugby Union are understood to have led to divisions in the dressing room - not a happy camp at the moment. Last season, Italy won in Cardiff: can they repeat their win this time round in Rome?

Saturday's second game sees 3rd place England take on 4th place France at Twickenham. England lost on the opening day to a resurgent Scotland (more, later) but won against both Italy and Wales and have scored eleven tries in those three games. New coach Steve Borthwick looks as if he is building for the Rugby World Cup being held in France in the autumn, with bold selections: for this match he has named Ellis Genge as captain and has dropped Farrell to the bench, starting instead with Marcus Smith starting at out-half, partnering Jack van Poortvliet as scrum-half. Meanwhile, France, the current champions, were battered by Ireland in Dublin in the second weekend of the tournament and have scored nine tries, conceding nine also. Their scrumhalf, Antoine Dupont, is in the form of his life but his team is not as potent as they were last year. Before the tournament, they were talked up as one of the favourites for the Rugby World Cup in the autumn, but their odds have lengthened since this tournament started. Still, they are on 10 points, as are both England and Scotland. But will they have enough to overcome England in Twickenham?

Sunday's match sees 2nd place Scotland host top place and unbeaten Ireland who have seen off Wales (away), France (at home) and Italy (away), scoring thirteen tries in the process and conceding just four: in the process, they are the only team to have scored bonus points in all three games to date. For this game they will have a number of players back from injury (notably Furlong and Ringrose); but, interesting coach Andy Farrell has opted to start Conor Murray at scrum-half instead of Jamison Gibson-Park whose speed around the ruck has been one of the cornerstones on which Ireland have built their success to become the top ranked team in the world. Meanwhile, Scotland are currently on a high, with Finn Russell shining at out-half, and van der Merwe scoring arguably the try of the tournament in their first game when they won at Twickenham against England who, admittedly, were playing their first game under new coach Borthwick. They lost to France in Paris but they will be counting on their home crowd to roar them on to success against Ireland.

Three games that are finely-balanced and very difficult to call... But it promises to be another fascinating weekend of rugby, setting things up nicely for the grand finale next Saturday, 18 March, when the three games will be played on the one day.