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Guinness Six Nations Fantasy Rugby Guide; Round 4

With the penultimate round upon us returning stars are who you should be looking out for

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The second-last round of fixtures is here and with it we come near the end of this year’s fantasy rugby, so who do you need to consider buying points before the final round?

The three games this weekend have some returning stars to think about snapping up and some bargains to watch out for.

Scotland vs Wales is the first match of the weekend and there are a host of players to keep an eye on. For Scotland there is the return of fly-half Finn Russell who will certainly add a creative flair and at 13.9 stars may be worth a buy.

Blair Kinghorn, 15 stars, is at full-back for the hosts, with the ever-reliable
Jonny Gray, 12.2 stars, in the second-row and Josh Strauss, 12.1 stars, knuckling down in the back-row, a trio that could cause the Welsh some problems.

The surprise package on the Scottish team could in fact be scrum-half Ali Price, 12.1 stars, who comes in for Greig Laidlaw and will be hoping to put in a good showing with a rare chance to start.

On the other side, Wales, who are the only team still in the running for the Grand Slam, have a star-studded XV. The pick of the bunch are full-back Liam Williams and wing George North, who are pricy at 16.9 stars a piece but could reap your team rewards.

Elsewhere, Garath Davies, 13.9 stars, could look to target Ali Price at scrum-half, and could cause the Scots many problems at the break-down if he can get the better of Price.

Josh Navidi, 15.4 stars, has been outstanding so far in the competition and would add to any team. Adam Beard, 10.7 stars, who comes in for the injured Jake Ball will hope to cease his chance so expect a big performance.

The second game on Saturday sees England host Italy, as they hope to bounce back from their loss to Wales.

This year’s top try scorer, Jonny May, 17.5 stars, is an obvious choice to have on the wing if you can afford him. The same goes for fly-half and captain Owen Farrell, 16.6 stars.

Another option from the English back-line is Manu Tuilagi, 14.1 stars, who will surely have opportunities with Ben Te’o coming in aloingside him.

In the pack, Billy Vunipola, 15.2 stars, is the pick of the bunch, and Joe Launchbury, 15.1 stars, is one to keep an eye on as he returns to the team.

The visitors, who will be hoping for an upset, are welcoming back some key men following their defeat to Ireland in round 3.

Captain Sergio Parisse, 11.1 stars, will want to inspire his team after missing out against the Irish. Alongside him in the back-row are Sebastian Negri, 10.7 stars, and Abraham Steyn, 10.7 stars, who have been shining lights for the Azzurri so far.

Another man to consider in the Italian pack is Dean Budd, and at 9.4 stars could prove a great buy.

Outside of the pack, scrum-half Tito Tebaldi, 9.7 stars, is a live-wire and if he can produce the sort of performance that he did last time out he could gain your team a lot of points.

The final game of the weekend sees an out of sorts Ireland team seek form against a resurgent French side, in what could be a brilliant game.

The home sides returning stars are ones to watch as they seek to put Ireland’s poor form behind them. Among them are Garry Ringrose and CJ Stander at 14.1 stars each, while James Ryan, 13 stars, and Cian Healy, 15 stars, also return.

The most expensive player in the game is Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale, 17.9 stars, and if they cash is available, he is highly recommended.

The away side, who were highly impressive against Scotland two week’s ago, have kept the same XV and with that in mind, here’s some names for thought.

Thomas Ramos, 11.6 stars, not only is he great at gaining metres he also kicks so will get you points from the boot too. Gael Fickou, 15.2 stars, showed his talent against the Scots and if he gets going again could cause the Irish defence many issues.

Youngster Romain Ntamack, 13.8 stars, retains his No 10 jersey and will be in a confident mood in the Aviva on Sunday. Captain Guilham Guirado, 14.2 stars, and No 8 Louis Picamoles, 14.7 stars, are two players that will be vital if France are to win and always rack up the tackles and small metres.

In terms of bargains, England’s Joe Cokanasiga, 10.5 stars, makes his first start in the competition for the men in white and is electric. Luca Bigi, 8.7 stars, is a solid option at hooker for Italy, while young Darcy Graham of Scotland, 10 stars, may be worth a punt.

On the Welsh side Thomas Francais, 12.1 stars, is one of the cheapest on the team and could put in a big performance. In terms of the final game, Ireland’s Josh van der Flier, 11.5 stars and France’s Jefferson Poirot, 10.1 stars, are reliable men to have on a team.

Lastly, in the super sub department each team has standout players.

Greig Laidlaw, 13.6 stars, is on the bench for the Scots and will be raring to go if he gets on, while Dan Bigger, 15.8 stars, will be hoping to show his incredible ability like he did against the English from the bench once more.

Henry Slade, 14.7 stars, will be a menace to the Italian side if he comes on near the end due to his pace and skill-set, and Cherif Traore, 9 stars, will hope to have a big impact from the opposition dug-out.

Ultan Dillane has impressed Joe Schmidt so much that he keeps Tadhg Beirne out of Ireland’s 23 and at 11.4 stars could be a key man to your side. Maxime Medard, 13.4 stars, always causes problems for Ireland and could be introduced at any point making him a valuable player to have amongst your ranks.

Those are the players to watch out for before the final round comes up next weekend and hopefully some will set you up nicely before the tournaments concluding round.

6 Nations

Scotland’s summer Test schedule finalised

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Scotland’s summer Test schedule has been finalised with the news that Scotland A will face England A at Leicester’s Mattioli Woods Welford Road on Sunday 27 June, before the full national team heads to Europe to face Romania on 10 July and Georgia on 17 July in Test matches.

The British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa headlines a busy July programme that will see 25 of the top 30 ranked unions in action with several hosting or being hosted for the first time since the pandemic began, including world champions South Africa, and Rugby World Cup 2019 hosts Japan.

In line with government guidance, stadiums will be operating at a reduced capacity. It is expected that 6,000 supporters will be welcomed at Welford Road, with the potential to increase these numbers if government guidelines allow in the coming weeks.

Ticket details for England A v Scotland A will be confirmed shortly.

Scotland’s schedule will be overseen by Interim Head Coach Mike Blair, who will take charge in Gregor Townsend’s stead given his involvement as Attack Coach for the British & Irish Lions’ tour to South Africa.

Kick-off times and broadcast arrangements are to be confirmed.

On the news of an A fixture, Scottish Rugby’s Director of High Performance, Jim Mallinder, said: “For me, the ability to play A team fixtures is a key area of player development and given the depth we are now able to draw on around the Scotland men’s national team, it will provide an important opportunity for those pushing for international selection.

“After seeing such a positive number of Scotland players called up for the British & Irish Lions the summer series of matches opens up our options even further for player selection.”

Source – Scotland Rugby

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6 Nations

British & Irish Lions issue Tour Update

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The British & Irish Lions and SA Rugby have confirmed they are aligned on delivering the Castle Lager Lions Series in South Africa in the scheduled playing window.

The Lions Board confirmed its preference to SA Rugby on Monday evening, prior to follow-up meetings earlier today (Tuesday).

“After reviewing information relating to the various contingency scenarios being considered, I can confirm that the Board’s intended position is for the Tour to go ahead as scheduled in South Africa in 2021,” said Jason Leonard, chairman of The British & Irish Lions.

“We acknowledge that there is a significant amount of work still to be undertaken to deliver a robust COVID-19 countermeasure plan to ensure a successful, safe and uninterrupted Tour. SA Rugby will have our full support to help implement this plan.”

Mark Alexander, president of the SA Rugby, said he would inform the Executive Council of the South African Rugby Union of the alignment.

“We appreciate the Lions’ faith and share their desire to see a safe and successful tour,” said Alexander.

“We have been in regular contact with our government to make that a reality against the backdrop of the pandemic and its predicted progression over the coming months.

“There are serious financial implications for SA Rugby, should the event take place without any supporters in attendance, and we cannot ignore that in our considerations. But we are determined that the eventual outcome will deliver the best occasion and experience for players, supporters and our commercial partners.”

Alexander said the original tour schedule was subject to review because of those considerations. Should any changes be required they will be communicated as soon as possible.

Leonard added: “Every British and Irish player dreams of wearing the famous red jersey, and players from the southern hemisphere aspire to be part of a Lions series. We owe it to the current players vying for a place in both squads to ensure they can become part of Lions history.

“We are very much looking forward to taking on South Africa for what promises to be a highly-competitive Series against the reigning World Champions.”

Alexander thanked the Castle Lager Lions Series’ commercial partners as well as the British & Irish Lions and ticket holders for their patience during the extended period of uncertainty.

“As hosts and ‘owners’ of the Castle Lager Lions Series no one has been more affected or more challenged by the current circumstances than SA Rugby,” said Alexander. “However, with the support of our government and good planning we can navigate the pandemic to nonetheless create a most memorable event for players, fans and partners.”

It is not yet known whether international or cross-border travel for supporters will be possible into the country in July. Supporters who have purchased ticket-inclusive packages through Lions Rugby Travel will be notified directly via email with information on the options available.

The Lions remind supporters that all packages purchased through Lions Rugby Travel are protected by the Covid-19 guarantee*. Supporters who have booked packages with official sub agents should contact them directly. For the latest guidance on travelling to South Africa please visit the UK Foreign Office website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa or the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs website: https://www.dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/a-z-list-of-countries/south-africa/

At this time, it also remains unclear whether spectators will be permitted into stadia in July and August. SA Rugby and the Lions continue to work with relevant South African Government departments to ascertain the latest guidance on COVID-19 countermeasure planning for major sporting events and will communicate any updates as soon as it is possible to do so.

In the event that spectators are not permitted to gain access to the Test matches, Lions supporters who had successfully purchased Test match tickets via the Lions ticket ballot will be refunded.

The British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June 2021 for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup will continue as scheduled. However, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event and in line with the latest UK Government guidance. For more information, including ticketing enquiries, please visit:
https://www.lionsrugby.com/1888-cup-faqs/

The British & Irish Lions have toured South Africa on 13 previous occasions, with the first Tour taking place in 1891. In that time, the Lions have won four Test series, lost eight with one drawn. Their overall record against the Springboks is played 46, won 17, lost 23 and drawn six.

*For more information please visit www.lionstour.com

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6 Nations

Ireland make multiple changes for England

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

The Ireland coaching group have named their final match day squad of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championships ahead of the Round 5 clash with England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

There are a number of changes to the team that started against Scotland last Sunday starting in the half-backs where Captain Johnny Sexton is joined in by Conor Murray.

Garry Ringrose is ruled out of the side through injury so Bundee Aki slots in at inside centre with Robbie Henshaw shifting to the No.13 jersey.

Jacob Stockdale returns to the team for the first time since the Autumn Nations Cup win over Scotland back in December and is named on the left wing with Keith Earls on and Hugo Keenan completing the back three.

In the front row Dave Kilcoyne starts at loosehead alongside Rob Herring at hooker and Tadhg Furlong at tighthead. 

Tadhg Beirne moves into lock to partner Iain Henderson in the absence of the injured James Ryan.

Will Connors was ruled out yesterday with a knee injury in training so Josh van der Flier comes in at openside. CJ Stander moves to 6 for his final Ireland game in Aviva Stadium and Jack Conan is named at No.8.

Speaking this week about Stander, Ireland captain Jonathan Sexton commented,

“He’s done things for the right reason. His wife and daughter are back in South Africa at the moment. They’ve been there for a few months and they went back for the last lockdown as well.

“It takes its toll, doesn’t it? He’s just taken the decision based on family reasons and we respect him for that, but he’s a big loss to Munster and Irish Rugby.

“He’s been huge for both teams over the last five, six years. Very shocked, but we wish him well and we hope that his last game in green will be one to remember.”

The replacements are Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Peter O’Mahony, Jamison Gibson Park, Billy Burns and Jordan Larmour.

The game is being televised by VIRGIN (ROI) and ITV (NI) and kicks off at 4.45pm on Saturday afternoon.

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Engalnd, 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Saturday, March 20, kick-off 4:45pm):

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 10 caps
14. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 92 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 51 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 30 caps
11. Jacob Stockdale (Ulster/Lurgan) 33 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 98 caps CAPTAIN
9. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 88 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 42 caps
2. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 20 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 48 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 62 caps
5. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 21 caps
6. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 50 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 30 caps
8. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 19 caps

Replacements
16. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 10 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 108 caps
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 36 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 2 caps
20. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 74 caps
21. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 9 caps
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 6 caps
23. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 28 caps

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