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6 Nations

WATCH: England demolish Italy with bonus-point victory | Highlights & Post Match

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Written by Oliver Green
photo by John Patrick Fletcher/Action Plus via Getty Images

England kept their Six Nation’s title hopes alive with a 57-14 battering of a poor Italy side.

Eddie Jones’ side are now just one point behind leaders Wales, who scraped past Scotland earlier in the day.

With Italy struggling to cope with England’s heavyweight back line, Manu Tuilagi and Brad Shields both scored twice in an eight-try victory.

Jamie George, Jonny May, George Kruis and Dan Robson also crossed for tries as Italy capitulated under pressure from England’s giant runners.

21-year-old winger Joe Cokanasiga was in terrific form as he caused Italy endless problems with his strong running and offloading.

Tommaso Allen and Luca Moris scored consolation tries for a dismal Italian side that had shown vast improvement in previous Six Nations games this year.

It was a 25th loss to England in 25 games, and lengthens the time since their last Six Nations win to four years.

England will go into the final game-week knowing that a Wales loss against Ireland will put the title in their hands – they will then have to overcome Scotland to claim the trophy.

How it happened

England started the game at a tremendous pace, pinning the Italians back with strong early running.

Cokanasiga was immediately involved, leaping highest to claim Owen Farrell’s clever kick-off.

The Bath winger then showed the finesse he possesses in addition to his brute strength, attempting an audacious one-handed offload that Tom Curry was unable to collect.

The all-action start from England set the tone for the game, and they were very nearly rewarded when Curry touched down in the corner, only for the try to be ruled out for a forward pass.

England’s attack was relentless though, with the Azzurri struggling to find answers to a monstrous centre partnership of Tuilagi and Ben Te’o, weighing a combined 34-stone.

Italy’s defence succumbed after eight minutes as a rumbling England maul saw Jamie George bundle over the line.

Twickenham was briefly stunned by Italy’s response though, as Allan evaded the English defence with a clever dummy and held off Ben Young’s to score with their first attack.

The home of English rugby breathed a sigh of relief just a minute later however, as May was released on the wing by Elliott Daly to score his 5th try of the competition.

Then, after just over 20 minutes, England broke down Italy’s feeble defence for a third time – this time it was Tuilagi bagging his first score in an England shirt since 2014.

The Leicester Tigers man, playing at 13 for the first time this tournament, shrugged off two tackles on the halfway line and a raced clear to score.

Farrell added three more points from the tee, before the bonus-point was sealed after just half an hour.

Tuilagi was involved again – this time feeding flanker Brad Shields after another strong carry.

Shields slid over the line for his first ever Test try.

Farrell then added the extras to send England 31-7 up at the interval.

England flew out of the blocks after the break at a similarly blistering pace to the first – Cokanasiga was instrumental again, this time with rampaging run down the middle, swatting away three different Italy defenders.

Ben Youngs recycled after the winger was finally brought down, giving it to Farrell who had the awareness to pick out Tuilagi on the wing, who duly scored his second of the game.

Then, in similar fashion to the first half, Italy responded immediately.

Conor O’Shea’s side showed a glimpse of the attacking rugby that saw them lead Ireland at halftime to reach the England five metre line.

Morisi eventually dived over in the corner after a slick backline move to offer the Italians a brief reprieve.

A number of England changes as the clock ticked past the hour mark saw their attack revitalised.

Kruis’ hard work was rewarded when he charged down Jayden Hayward’s kick and collected the loose ball to score under the posts.

England made it seven after a Cokanasiga raid down the touchline, with the 18-stone winger passing to scrum-half Robson who ran over from ten metres out to score his first international try.

Back-rower Shields then completed the rout, benefitting from another charge down from Kruis as he collected the ball to score England’s eighth and final try of the day.

The result leaves everything to play for in the final games, with England, Wales and Ireland all able to secure the title.

For England, the Calcutta Cup will not be the trophy on the forefront of their minds when they face Scotland at Twickenham next week.

Post-match reaction

Eddie Jones said; “It was a good response after Wales. We left a bit out there, there’s a bit disappointment with certain aspects but we are looking forward to Scotland.

“We used the whole 23, we could have used the finishers better against Wales, and that was my fault, but they all made a contribution.

“Ben Te’o and Manu Tuilagi are good players, and Joe Cokanasiga is only going to improve. We are so blessed to have Brad Shields and Mark Wilson who can play six, there is great competition for places for next week.

“Next week will be like a grand final, it’ll be exciting. We cannot control what happens in the other game, but we can control what happens against Scotland. We’ll have a couple of days off, but then get into it on Monday.”

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea said; “It was difficult. That was an incredibly powerful England performance. We tried to play and we created a lot when we had the opportunity, but there was too much power out there.

“I’m immensely proud of all of these boys because they never stopped trying. We’ll reset easily before France. We’ll see what we’ve got in terms of players upright.

“What you saw out there was a lot of people who played until the end. I wouldn’t get too carried away with the scoreline against us.

“It was straight one-on-one tackles that cost us dearly but there were some individuals who put in an incredible shift for us.”

Jones calls for Six Nations relegation

The England head-coach said that relegation should be considered following his sides demolition of an Italian side that hasn’t won a game in the competition since 2015.

“They should always consider rewarding merit,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“It doesn’t matter what competition you’re in.”

Tournament chief Ben Morel stated in February that relegation is not being considered, and there are no plans to add any other teams.

Georgia, who are currently placed above Italy in the International rankings, are keen to be included.

Jones added: “The organisers talk about the Six Nations being the best rugby competition in the world, and it probably is close to it.

“But to improve it you’ve got to find a way of making sure you’ve got the six best teams in Europe always playing in it. “If that involves relegation then it’s something that should be looked at very closely.”

Match Highlights:

6 Nations

England announce new landmark deal with O2

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

O2 and the RFU have today announced a new five-year partnership of the national teams and bringing spend parity across the men’s and women’s games. O2 is the principal shirt partner for the England Senior Men’s and England Senior Women’s teams with O2’s logo appearing front and centre on all match day and training kit.

As part of the new agreement, O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership. O2 and the RFU have the collective ambition to grow both the profile of the Red Roses and increase attendance at future games.

The deal also provides O2 customers the opportunity to access Priority Tickets for all England Rugby games, 48 hours before general release. As the UK’s No1 network, O2 is committed to offering the very best offers and experiences. Through Priority, O2 customers will have the opportunity to access exclusive player meet and greets, 20% matchday discount on England Rugby kit at the Twickenham Stadium store and O2 Ultimate Fan – winning the chance to go on summer tour with the team.

O2 Inside Line will continue as the exclusive England Rugby behind the scenes content series, now with equal commitment to both teams. This includes content from inside training camps, live broadcasts from camps during test week, and exclusive pre and post-match content from the O2 Blueroom. O2 Inside Line will be multi-format series including live stream, video and podcast.

The deal also brings a joint commitment from O2 and the RFU to support the country’s grassroots clubs through exclusive rugby community offers from O2, and a vision for Twickenham to become more connected, utilising O2 5G and O2 Business products and services.

Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO commented: “O2 have been a loyal supporter of England Rugby, a partnership that has lasted for 25 years and we are proud to continue to carry their logo front and centre on our shirts for a further five years. O2’s commitment to equally support both our elite teams is commendable and it’s great to collaborate with a partner that truly shares our same passion to see the women’s game flourish and continue to grow for future generations to enjoy.”

Nina Bibby, CMO of O2 said: “There has never been a more important time to get behind rugby, a sport we love and have invested in for over 25 years. We are proud to support the RFU through our extended partnership, which we believe is the longest shirt sponsorship in the history of UK sport. Our new agreement brings investment parity from O2 to England Men and England Women. The future for English rugby is bright, and together we want to make sure that rugby emerges from the pandemic stronger than ever before.”

  • O2 to Wear the Rose for five more years as principal shirt sponsor commencing from September 2021
  • This year marks twenty-five years of O2 sponsorship of the England Rugby Team with the renewal taking the partnership to thirty years
  • O2 has pledged to equally fund the men’s and women’s game over the course of the partnership
  • Priority Tickets for both the men’s and women’s fixtures available to O2 customers 48 hours ahead of general release as part of a set of exclusive offers and experiences
  • Increased connectivity at Twickenham Stadium 

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6 Nations

Wales name 7 new caps

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has named seven uncapped players in his 38-man squad for Wales’ upcoming autumn campaign.

Two uncapped forwards are named in hooker Sam Parry and back-row Josh Macleod, whilst five uncapped backs are included: Kieran Hardy, Callum Sheedy, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Ioan Lloyd.
RWC squad members Tomas Francis, Rhys Patchell and Jonathan Davies, who all missed the Guinness Six Nations campaign earlier this year, return from injury to be included.

Wales will kick off their autumn fixtures with a friendly in Paris against France to prepare for their re-arranged Six Nations finale against Scotland at Parc y Scarlets.

Pivac’s squad will then take part in the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup, kicking the tournament off on Friday November 13th against Ireland in Dublin before fixtures against Georgia and England, as well as the tournament’s play-off final on December 5th.

“We are looking forward to getting back to international rugby and getting the squad together again,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“This campaign is hugely important looking to the future and long term to the RWC in 2023.
“We kick off the campaign with a game against France which will help prepare us for the re-arranged Six Nations match versus Scotland which is an important game and important we get a good performance from.

“We then go into the Autumn Nations Cup (ANC) which is an exciting tournament and a great opportunity for us. It is a chance for us to continue developing our game, give opportunities to players and test them at this level. It is ideal preparation for the all-important 2021 Six Nations which will come around quickly after the ANC.”

WALES SQUAD – AUTUMN 2020
Forwards (21): Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues, 8 Caps), Wyn Jones (Scarlets, 25 Caps), Nicky Smith (Ospreys, 35 Caps), Ken Owens (Scarlets, 77 Caps), Ryan Elias (Scarlets, 13 Caps), Sam Parry (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets, 41 Caps), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues, 26 Caps), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs, 48 Caps), Leon Brown (Dragons, 10 Caps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, 138 Caps), Will Rowlands (Wasps, 1 Cap), Jake Ball (Scarlets, 46 Caps), Seb Davies (Cardiff Blues, 7 Caps), Cory Hill (Cardiff Blues, 25 Caps), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons, 21 Caps), Ross Moriarty (Dragons, 45 Caps), Taulupe Faletau (Bath, 76 Caps), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, 24 Caps), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, 76 Caps), Josh Macleod (Scarlets).
Backs (17): Rhys Webb (Ospreys, 33 Caps), Gareth Davies (Scarlets, 53 Caps), Kieran Hardy (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Northampton, 83 Caps), Rhys Patchell (Scarlets, 19 Caps), Callum Sheedy (Bristol), Owen Watkin (Ospreys, 22 Caps), Nick Tompkins (Dragons, 4 Caps), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets, 81 Caps), Johnny Williams (Scarlets), George North (Ospreys, 95 Caps), Josh Adams (Cardiff Blues, 24 Caps), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester), Jonah Holmes (Dragons, 3 Caps), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets, 89 Caps), Ioan Lloyd (Bristol)*, Liam Williams (Scarlets, 63 Caps).

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6 Nations

Official. Eddie Jones signs new England Deal.

Official.

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England men’s head coach Eddie Jones and the RFU have agreed a contract extension which will see him continue his role until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
 
Jones joined England Rugby at the end of 2015 and has coached the men’s national side on 54 occasions winning 42, drawing one and losing 11 – giving him a win ratio of 78%, the highest in the history of England coaches.
 
Under Jones, England has won two Six Nations titles including a Grand Slam in 2016, a 3-0 away Test series win against Australia in the same year, an unbeaten run of 18 matches equalling New Zealand’s record and were finalists at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. 
 
Jones said: “The extension is a great honour for me, but in the current environment, it is only right to acknowledge what a difficult time the world is facing.  We are all looking forward to a time when we can get back to playing rugby and use the sport as a force for good in bringing people back together. I never thought coming here four years ago I would be doing a second four years but the circumstances are right. Obviously it is important for the team that we keep improving and my focus will be solely on that.
 
“I am excited about raising the standards again. We have a great team. We set out four years ago to be the best team in the world and unfortunately we missed that by 80 minutes. Now we want to be the team that is remembered as being the greatest team the game has ever seen. It’s a big ambition but I believe we are capable of doing it. We have players with an enhanced reputation, we have a team that is expected to do well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to keep moving forward.”
 
Bill Sweeney, RFU CEO said: “My thoughts and those of all of us at the RFU are with everyone impacted by COVID-19, both across the country at large but also within our own rugby union community. In exceptionally difficult times, we are pleased to be sharing some good news.  We are delighted that Eddie will continue as head coach to run England’s campaign to take us to the 2023 Rugby World Cup. His record since joining speaks for itself and he has proven why he is one of the best coaches in world rugby. The progress shown by England since 2015 has been indisputable and having fielded the youngest-ever team to play in a World Cup final, we know even more growth is possible. We are all excited by what this squad can do and having Eddie leading the team is very important to us. 
 
“We reached an understanding soon after returning from Japan but there were some things that we wanted to make sure worked for both sides. We have announced Eddie’s contract extension a few weeks later than planned as our focus was diverted to support the English rugby community during this difficult time, we are now turning our attention to developing plans to support the rebooting of rugby and a winning England team will provide a vital role in that.”
 
Ahead of the Guinness Six Nations Jones confirmed Simon Amor and Matt Proudfoot would join Steve Borthwick and John Mitchell as his assistant coaches. Jason Ryles will join later in the year as skills coach following Borthwick’s departure towards the end of the season.

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