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6 Nations

England vs Scotland: The Talking points.

Team news, pre-match quotes, and the championship permutations ahead of Saturday’s finale at Twickenham

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Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Both England and Scotland have made several changes to their starting line-ups ahead of the final round of the 2019 Six Nations on Saturday.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made six alterations to the team that narrowly lost to Wales last week.

Sam Skinner and Hamish Watson start at six and seven respectively, replacing Josh Strauss and the injured Jamie Ritchie.

Ben Toolis comes in for Jonny Gray at second-row, completing a new-look forward pack.

Sean Maitland will start at full-back, and Byron McGuigan will join him in the back-three, with Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour ruled out through injury.

Sam Johnston gets the nod ahead of Pete Horne at centre.

Meanwhile, England boss Eddie Jones has made four changes – most notably replacing Joe Cokanasiga, who was man-of-match on his debut against Italy.

Jack Nowell will start on the wing instead of 21-year-old Cokanasiga, whom Jones says he is protecting from media ‘over-hyping’ after impressing on his first England start.

“The media has an effect on the player and we need to be conscious of that,” Jones told BBC Sport.

“I think it is important, particularly in England, because I have seen so many good young players that start with this boom and then only play three or four Tests. I want him to play 100 Tests for England.”

Mark Wilson also returns in place of Brad Shields at flanker, and Ben Moon is restored at prop, at the expense of Ellis Genge.

Jones has opted for playmaker Henry Slade at centre, with the heavyweight Ben Te’o dropping out the starting XV.

What they said

England winger Jonny May, who is the competitions leading try scorer, was keen to praise Cokanasiga following his promising first England cap.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, May said; “I haven’t played with a winger like him before – he’s got so much talent and so much potential.”

“He’s brilliant now and he’s only going to get better. I’m pleased that we’ve got him.”

Cokanasiga displayed his ability to carry the ball one-handed in the game against Italy, often allowing him to find an offload, but May admitted it isn’t something he could do.

“When I see him carrying it one-handed I think, I’m not going to try that, but I think too it shows confidence,” May said. “It shows he’s a 21-year-old guy out there who’s out there on the pitch expressing himself.”

Despite the ramifications of the Wales game on Saturday, May reiterated that England’s attentions will not be on the game in Cardiff.

“For me it’s not about winning the Six Nations,” he said. “There’s a bigger purpose to what we’re doing here, and that’s the World Cup.

“We can go away feeling good about ourselves in this campaign regardless of whether we win the championship or not. If we put down the performance we want against Scotland we can feel good about ourselves.

“The main thing is doing what’s right for you. We need to get our best performance out regardless of what happens in Cardiff.”

England head coach Eddie Jones was wary of the threat the Scottish side will pose, as he spoke ahead of the game that will also decide the Calcutta Cup.

“Scotland is a difficult side, they are always at you, they play with a lot of enthusiasm and effort and have got a lot of attacking strings to their bow,” the Australian said,

“Finn Russell is an exceptional player at 10 and they have got some pace on the outside so we are going to have to defend really well against them.”

England centre Manu Tuilagi recently rejected a move to Racing 92 in France, and revealed playing for his national side was a major factor in his decision.

English players playing overseas are not considered for the national team, due the RFU’s selection policy.

Tuilagi, who moves to inside centre against Scotland, told BBC Sport;
“Playing for England is massive.”

“It’s a feeling you can’t replace. Hopefully I will keep playing for England.”

“I couldn’t be happier with the decision that I’ve made. I’m over the moon and I’m happy it’s done and I can focus on Scotland at the weekend,” he added.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has hit back at critics of side, and is confident he can orchestrate a shock result at Twickenham.

“If no-one thinks we’re going to win then that’s fine,” he said.

“We believe we can win and that’s what we’re working to do. Scotland teams tend to be underdogs on a number of occasions and it usually brings the best out in them.

Townsend also highlighted his teams performance last week against Wales as a cause for optimism.

“We’re very motivated and full of energy. There were a lot of positive aspects against Wales, a quality team. We know we have to improve again to win at Twickenham.”

“The character and fitness the players displayed showed, in the second half, what the team is capable of against one of the best sides in the world. The next step is making that pressure count on the scoreboard, more regularly.”

Championship Permutations – Who needs what?

What do Wales need?

  • If Wales beat Ireland, Wales will secure the Grand Slam and the Championship.
  • If Ireland beat Wales without a bonus point, and Wales get the losing bonus point, and England lose, Wales will win the title .
  • If Wales lose without a bonus point, and England draw without a bonus point, Wales take the title

What do England need?

  • If Wales lose to Ireland, and England beat Scotland, England will win the title.
  • If England draw with a bonus point, and Wales lose to Ireland without a bonus point (and Ireland don’t outscore England by 64 point), England will win the title.

What do Ireland need?

  • If Ireland win with a bonus point, and England lose, Ireland will retain the title.
  • If England win with no bonus point, and Ireland score 64 points more than England, Ireland will retain the title.
  • If Ireland win with no bonus point, Wales lose without bonus point, and England draw with a bonus point, Ireland will retain the title.
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6 Nations

Scotland unveil new faces and joint captains for Tonga test

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Scotland’s opening match of the 2021 Autumn Nations Series will be marked with a number of notable firsts as Gregor Townsend names the team to face Tonga at BT Murrayfield on Saturday 30 October – kick-off 2:30pm.

Scotland will be represented by Co-Captains for the first time as Glasgow Warriors and British & Irish Lion Ali Price and Edinburgh Rugby’s Jamie Ritchie both lead the team.

The game, live on Amazon Prime, will also see Scotland field four uncapped players in the starting XV, two in the backs and two in the forwards.

A further four debutants are in line for caps off the bench, which has a 6-2 forwards split.

Edinburgh flyer Darcy Graham starts at full-back and is joined in the back three by Glasgow duo Kyle Steyn, who will add to his single cap won against France in the last match at BT Murrayfield played in front of crowds in March 2020, and Rufus McLean who will make his first Scotland start.

Joining McLean on Scotland debut will be clubmate Sione Tuipulotu who lines up with fellow Glasgow Warrior Sam Johnson as the centre partnership.

Co-Captain and Lions scrum-half Ali Price teams up with Edinburgh’s Blair Kinghorn at fly-half to form a brand new half-back pairing.

In the pack fellow British & Irish Lions Zander Fagerson starts at tighthead prop with Hamish Watson at openside flanker, as they feature for Scotland for the first time since the South Africa tour this summer.

Edinburgh Rugby’s Jamie Ritchie, also named as Co-Captain, packs down on the blindside of the scrum which is anchored by Glasgow Warriors’ Matt Fagerson at number eight.

Youth and experience combine in the second row which sees Rob Harley earn his 23rd cap for Scotland and joined by Edinburgh lock Jamie Hodgson, who will win his first cap.

Up front George Turner starts at hooker with Fagerson and with a debutant on the loose-head side in Edinburgh Rugby’s Pierre Schoeman.

Edinburgh Rugby provide forward replacements on debut in the form of lock Marshall Sykes and back-row Luke Crosbie.

Glasgow Warriors half-back partners Jamie Dobie and Ross Thompson are the uncapped backs.

Former Scotland Captain Stuart McInally is available off the bench alongside Glasgow props Jamie Bhatti and Oli Kebble in the front row, with backrow forward Nick Haining of Edinburgh completing the matchday squad.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “As a playing and coaching group we are looking forward to returning to international rugby over the coming four weeks in the Autumn Nations Series.

“This week has been our first opportunity since the Six Nations to come together as a team, and our goal is to become a better team over the next month. Saturday will also be a huge occasion for a number of players in our squad who have the honour of playing for their country for the first time.”

Tickets for the game start at £16 for adults and £11 for U18s and students, with U12s tickets only £1. Secure your tickets here.

Source – Scotland Rugby

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6 Nations

Ireland Squad Named For Autumn Nations Series

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Andy Farrell has named a 38 strong squad for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland face Japan on Saturday 6th November before hosting New Zealand a week later on Saturday 13th.

The final game in the series sees Mario Ledesma’s Argentina line out at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday 21stNovember.   The Aviva Stadium will be at full capacity for these three games.

Johnny Sexton who has been capped 99 times for his country will lead the squad during this international window.

Six of Ireland’s players who toured with the British and Irish Lions during the summer – Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Conor Murray are included as is Ronan Kelleher who joined the squad in South Africa.

Six of the players who won their first caps during the Vodafone Summer Series in July have been included in the squad – Robert Baloucoune, Harry Byrne, Gavin Coombes, James Hume, Tom O’Toole and Nick Timoney.

There are two uncapped players named Leinster duo Dan Sheehan and Ciaran Frawley while Munster’s Simon Zebo is named in an Ireland squad for the first time since June 2017.

Robbie Henshaw will continue his rehabilitation programme under the supervision of the Ireland medical team.

Thomas Ahern (Munster) and Jamie Osborne (Leinster) will train with the squad as development players during this window.

Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell, commented,

“It has been a short lead in to this international window but that is the challenge, to get back up to speed quickly and build on the performances from the Six Nations and the Summer Tests.  This is the start of an exciting period for the group as we begin to build towards the Rugby World Cup in France.”

“In September we got together and mapped out what was coming up in this window, the exciting fixtures that lay ahead in the next 12 months and beyond that the opportunities to improve as a group over the next five windows we will have together.

“In a few weeks’ time we will face an exciting and well coached Japan team who showed in July what a dangerous team they are.  New Zealand dominated the Rugby Championship losing just one game while Argentina are battle hardened from playing the southern hemisphere’s Big 3 week in week out over the past two months.

“It would be fantastic to play in front of a full-house at the Aviva Stadium.  We had small crowds back in for the games in July and even that made a huge difference to the team and the atmosphere in the stadium.”

Ireland’s Autumn Nations Series fixtures at the Aviva Stadium will be televised on RTE (ROI) and Channel 4 (NI).

IRELAND Autumn Nations Series Squad 2021

Backs (18)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 31 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 1 cap
Harry Byrne (Leinster/Lansdowne) 1 cap
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 24 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 3 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 25 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 93 caps
Ciaran Frawley (Leinster/UCD)*
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 10 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 13 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 6 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 5 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 89 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 99 caps CAPTAIN
Simon Zebo (Munster/Cork Constitution) 35 caps

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 5 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 16 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 22 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 20 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 19 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 9 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 49 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 109 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 63 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 22 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 13 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 76 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 1 cap
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne)*
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps

*denotes uncapped player

Development Players

Thomas Ahern (Munster/Shannon)
Jamie Osborne (Leinster/Naas)

Autumn Nations Series Fixtures 2021

IRELAND v Japan
Aviva Stadium , Saturday 6th November, 2021

IRELAND v New Zealand
Aviva Stadium , Saturday 13th November, 2021

IRELAND v Argentina
Aviva Stadium , Sunday 21st November, 2021

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

** EXCLUSIVE DAVID LLOYD OFFER FOR ULSTER RUGBY FANS **

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6 Nations

Wales & Cardiff star to retire at 27

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Cardiff Rugby fullback Hallam Amos will retire at the end of the season to focus on a career in medicine.

The 27-year-old joined Cardiff ahead of the 2019-20 season having previously come through the ranks at the Dragons, where he spent nine years.

He recently completed his clinical medical exams and has informed the club and Welsh Rugby Union of his intention to hang up his boots in June.

Amos said: “After a decade of professional rugby, the 2021/22 season will be my last. I’ve experienced a lot in rugby and have been fortunate to go to two Rugby World Cups, a Commonwealth Games, several Six Nations and I’ve had a lot of great times in the regional game.

“I’m very grateful for the incredible experiences I’ve had but the time has almost come to face a new challenge. I am happy with what I have achieved and telling Dai and Cardiff, and Wayne (Pivac) and Wales, early so they can plan for the future sat a lot easier with me.

“It’s always been my intention to finish when I complete my degree and this season aligns nicely with the final year of my medical studies, so a perfect time to transition from pitch to hospital.

“Throughout my years combining university with a rugby career I’ve had plenty of support – from the WRU, from the Dragons for the first few years of my career, from Cardiff Rugby more recently, and from Cardiff University itself – and I’ll always be thankful for their willingness to accommodate both aspects of my life.

“Particular thanks go to Dai and Wayne who have been understanding over the last couple of weeks as I’ve talked to them about the thought process behind my decision.

“Retiring at 27 will definitely be strange but I’m fully committed to Cardiff Rugby for the rest of the season and hopefully I can finish on a high over the next few months.”

The full-back has made 32 appearances since joining the Blue and Blacks and has taken his tally of international caps to 25.

Cardiff Director of Rugby, Dai Young has led the tributes to the Cardiff medical student and commended his decision to retire on his own terms and with a clear education and plan for the future.

Young said: “Obviously it will be disappointing to lose a player of Hallam’s quality and he has plenty of rugby left in him but you can only admire his decision.

“Not many players get to go out on their own terms and to switch from rugby to a full-time career in medicine sets him up for a long and fruitful career.

“Hallam has worked incredibly hard to juggle rugby and his studies up until now and has achieved a huge amount in the game both at regional and international level.

“He will remain an important figure for us for the remainder of the season and can play without the pressure of the decision hanging over him. For now, the focus is on Cardiff and enjoying his rugby and next summer we will wish him all the very best for the future.”

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