Everything you need to know about Wales' Six Nations wooden spoon clash on 'Super Saturday'

Wales go into Saturday's match bottom of the table and in line to pick up the wooden spoon unless they can beat Italy. Credit: PA Images

Today is one of the biggest days in the rugby calendar, so called 'Super Saturday'.

All three games in the final round of the Six Nations will be played in a single, action-packed day.

Wales open proceedings with a must-win game against Italy, before Ireland host Scotland and then England take on hosts France in the competition closer.

Win or lose, Saturday will mark the end of a disappointing campaign for Wales, having yet to win a match.

Wales' defeat to France last Sunday was their fourth defeat from four in this year's Six Nations. Credit: PA Images

Why is Wales v Italy so important?

The pressure is well and truly on for Wales as they look to avoid their first wooden spoon in more than 20 years.

Their opponents Italy have won the unwanted award for the past nine years in a row and will be desperate to avoid that extending to a decade.

Italy have had a pick-up in form recently and pulled off a surprise win last weekend against Scotland.

Warren Gatland's side are yet to replicate that, having lost all four of their matches so far.

Going into the tournament most people would have backed a Wales win - especially in front of a home crowd at the Principality Stadium - but that looks a lot less certain after Italy's latest performance.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...

Going into this afternoon's clash Wales are last and, as things stand, would claim the wooden spoon.

However, Italy are just one place above them and are within reach if Wales manage to win with a bonus point by scoring four or more tries.

Wales are arguably lucky not to have already been lumbered with the wooden spoon.

After 121 caps, George North will retire after Saturday's game. Credit: PA Images

It would have been a very different situation if Italian fly-half Paolo Garbisi had scored a penalty between the posts in the 80th minute against France a few weeks ago. Instead they had to settle for a draw keeping them within Wales' grasp.

What is the wooden spoon, and what do Wales need to do to avoid it?

The wooden spoon is the unwanted prize given each year to the team who finish the Six Nations in last place.

Although no physical spoon is given it is still dreaded with almost a whole year to wait until a team can try to relinquish it.

Coach Warren Gatland has said his team is looking forward to the challenge on Saturday. Credit: PA Images

The wooden spoon comes from an old Cambridge University tradition dating back to the 1800s, where the person who received the lowest score in their final maths exam would be presented with the cheap cutlery.

The maths for Saturday is complicated (more on that in a moment) but the bottom line is the wooden spoon would be a huge blow to a young Wales team looking to build for the future.

Cause for optimism, however, comes in the fact Warren Gatland has never lost to Italy as a coach.

Italy won the last game between the two sides in Cardiff, back in 2022, but this was before Gatland's return.

Wales would already have the wooden spoon had Italian fly-half Paolo Garbisi not missed a last minute penalty kick against France. Credit: PA Images

However, a win might not be enough to avoid the wooden spoon.

Win or draw and Italy condemn Wales to finish bottom. The same result would follow even if Warren Gatland's men win but Italy manage to claim two losing bonus points - one for scoring enough tries and another for losing by seven points or fewer.

The complicated sums do not end there, though.

If Wales win by fewer than five points, with both sides getting a bonus point, they would still finish last as a result of having a worse points difference.

Have Wales changed their team? The main news going into the weekend has been the return of George North to the starting XV for one final time, having announced his retirement earlier this week.

Confirming the news, an emotional North said: “After 14 years it feels like now is the right time to step away. I have loved and cherished every second in a Welsh shirt and being able to play alongside some fantastic teammates."

North was left out last weekend against France, with Joe Roberts receiving just his second cap as he came in to replace the veteran.

George North became emotional as he revealed his decision to retire earlier this week.

However, Gatland's decision to reinstate North, as well as fellow centre Nick Tompkins, marks a return to experience for Saturday's crunch match.

Tight-head prop Dillon Lewis makes his first start of the 2024 Championship.

There is some consistency with selection though as Cameron Winnett, who has been a shining light for Wales in the tournament, makes it five games from five in this year's championship after making his debut on the opening weekend.

Elliot Dee maintains his place too, having poignantly earned his 50th cap on Mother's Day against France. His mum, Lynn, died following a short illness in 2016 and never got to see her son play for Wales.

Cameron Winnett, who made his debut at the start of the tournament, starts again. Credit: PA Images

Announcing the team earlier this week, Gatland said: This is an important game for us. We definitely don’t want to finish bottom and the squad is hungry to win."

He added: "We’re excited and will step up and welcome the challenge ahead."

Who could win the Six Nations? There will inevitably be a huge amount of attention on how Wales perform, but there is intrigue at the other end of the table too with four nations still in contention (at least theoretically).

Ireland and England are in the race to win the championship, with both France and Scotland still having a chance, even if they require a lot of things to go their way.

Ireland are top and, as such, are firm favourites as they play Scotland in Dublin.

Andy Farrell's side were seeking a second successive Grand Slam - an entire Six Nations campaign without a single loss - before last minute defeat against England last Saturday put an end to that ambition.

England, meanwhile, play fourth-placed France in Lyon.

Steve Borthwick's team have won three of their four games so far and have momentum after beating the front runners in dramatic fashion last weekend.

There are four teams who could still, in theory, win the Six Nations. Credit: PA Images

The equation for Ireland is simple. Win and they claim the championship.

England need Ireland to lose without getting any bonus points, before winning themselves, if they are to be crowned champions.

When are the matches and how can I watch? Wales v Italy is at 2:15pm and you can watch it on BBC One.

The later games are both on ITV 1 and ITV X.

Ireland v Scotland is at 4:45pm, with France v England at 8pm.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…