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Preview: Much changed Welsh visit Rome in Round 2 of the Six Nations

Preview & Verdict.

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Written by Oliver Green
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Wales have named a team for their trip to Rome on Saturday that includes 10 changes from last week’s stunning comeback victory over France.

Coach Warren Gatland made the same number of changes for the match against Italy last year, which saw Wales run out as 38-14 winners.

They take on an Italian side that will be looking to build on a strong finish against Scotland at Murrayfield last week.

Despite a 33-20 loss, Italy will take confidence from the fact they were able to score three tries and were close to a fourth in the final moments.

Wales

Among the 10 players Gatland has brought in for this game, four will be making their 6 Nations debuts. Flankers Thomas Young and Aaron Wainwright, scrum-half Aled Davies, and wing Jonah Holmes will all be making their first appearances in the tournament.

Second-row Alun Wyn Jones has been dropped to the bench, and will hand captaincy duties over to centre Jonathan Davies, who will be leading his country for the first time.

Josh Navidi retains his place in the back-row, but switches to number eight, with lock Adam Beard the only other forward surviving from 24-19 win in Paris.

Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee form a new-look front row, with Jake Ball joining Beard in second-row.

Dan Biggar starts at fly-half, and Owen Watkin will join skipper Davies in the centres.

George North, who scored twice against the French, has dropped to the bench as he nurses a shoulder injury that has limited his involvement in Wales’ training in Nice this week. He is replaced by debutant Holmes.

Josh Adams and Liam Williams, who also started last week, complete the back three.

Gatland, who was criticised last year for the number of changes he made against Italy, has remained unfazed amid more concern about his team.

“I’ve never been a person who has worried about external influences,” said Gatland.

“People can say, write or imply whatever they like.”

“It doesn’t change the fact that we’ve been put into a role to make what we think are the best decisions.”

“It’s a challenge this year, making changes. Guys have got to go out there and prove themselves.”

Italy

Italy have made just two changes from the side that lost at Murrayfield, with Tommaso Castello and Andrea Lovotti dropping out.

Wing Edoardo Padovani starts in place of Castello, meaning Wasps back Michele Campagnaro switches to the centres.

Nicola Quaglio starts at prop ahead of Lovotti.

Captain Sergio Parisse will add to his record 66 appearances in the Championship; he overtook Brian O’Driscoll last week.

Following the defeat to Scotland, Parisse was keen to highlight his sides ability when they are possession, even if they do struggle defensively.

“If we had the possession we are dangerous; we can score tries,” Parisse said.  

“I think Scotland deserved the win; they dominated the game, had a lot of possession – more than us – so of course the last ten minutes is a good base to work on for the game next week against Wales.”

Meanwhile Padovani, who scored the second of Italy’s tries last week after coming on as a substitute, has called for his side to continue their discipline against Wales.

“Well, we will have to first improve the performance and keep the discipline under control, which went well with Scotland,” he said.

“Obviously you will need to play a lot more in their half of the field and express a greater volume of play, controlling more possession and above all, as mentioned, managing to be more precise in our performance: especially inside the 22 metres and in the decisive stages of the match.

“Then we need to show ourselves in contact and in the one-on-one, both in attack and defence.”

Verdict

It is hard to see how Italy will beat Wales on Saturday, despite the wholesale changes Warren Gatland has made. He made the same number of changes last year and Wales won comfortably 38-14.

He is one of the best coaches in the world and it would be foolish to doubt his decision making at this level. The players coming in, though inexperienced, have more than enough ability to overcome the Italians.

It will be interesting to see how the cope without influential captain Alun Wyn Jones, but Jonathan Davies is a capable stand in.

Italy will be hoping that star man Sergio Parisse will be able to rattle the cages of the two inexperienced Wales flankers, who will have to be at their best to keep the marauding number eight quiet.

If Parisse can secure Italy enough ball early on, they will hope they can recreate their flowing attacking rugby from the last 10 minutes in Scotland.

If the young Welsh side then begins to panic, then this game will be far from a foregone conclusion.

Despite this, Wales still have a strong bench, which will be beneficial should this game be closer than Gatland would prefer entering the second half.

Italy are always a stern test, regardless of their finishing position each year in the Six Nations, but the match in Rome may just be another one of their ‘nearly’ moments.

6 Nations

Australian Match Officials Appointed to 2022 Six Nations Fixtures

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The Guinness Six Nations 2022 kicks off on February 5th, and rugby fans couldn’t be any happier. The Championship never disappoints and is always packed with drama as France, England, Wales, Italy, Scotland, and Ireland go head to head. Some fans even take the enthusiasm a step higher and bet on these games. We highly recommend you read on BettingTop10 site how to find the best betting site for you. This way you will get all the information you need to make the safest bets.

When World Rugby announced the 13 referees who will be the match officials for this 15-match Championship, fans received the announcement with much praise. The match officials represent eight rugby unions, and Rugby Australia will have four officials raising their flag high. For Australian Rugby, the four officials will be making history as they take charge of matches on the February 12th weekend.

Andy Marinos, Rugby Australia’s Chief Executive, had a congratulatory message for his four officials. Marinos said, “It’s an incredible achievement for all four Australians who will be representing us during the Six Nations. I’d like to congratulate them on behalf of Rugby Australia.

“To have Nic, Angus and Damon take control of three individual games on the same weekend is something we’ve never had before in a team of Australian match officials during the Six Nations, and I know they’ll put their best foot forward.”

Angus Gardner is the first official and isn’t new to the Six Nations tournament, as he made his debut back in 2019. For the 2022 Six Nations fixtures, he’ll start as the 2nd assistant referee in the Ireland vs Wales match at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on February 5th. However, on February 12th, Gardner will be the main referee in the game between France and Ireland at the Stade de France stadium in Paris.

Nic Berry is another experienced referee who had his first rodeo at the Six Nations in 2019. He will kick off the 2022 tournament on February 5th as the 1st assistant referee in the Scotland vs England match at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh. Nic will, however, take the reins as the lead official on February 12th as former title winners Wales clash with Scotland at the  Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

New to the Six Nations will be Damon Murphy, and his first match will be between France and Italy at the Stade de France stadium in Paris. The game will be on February 6th, and Damon will be the 2nd assistant referee. And just like his countrymates, Damon will be the main referee on February 13th as Italy plays against England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Lastly, Brett Conan joins the Six Nations championship as a Television Match Official (TMO) for the first time and will make his debut on February 6th. He’ll join Nic Berry on February 12th as the TMO when Wales and Scotland battle it out on the pitch.

The selection of the match officials was a significant feat for World Rugby and was noted by the Chairman of the World Rugby Match Officials Selection Committee, Graham Mourie. He said, “The 2022 Guinness Six Nations represents an important milestone for our match officials on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”

Mourie added, “ Being able to select from the largest pool of match officials since the last Rugby World Cup is exciting and also means that we will be able to optimise preparation on the ground prior to and during the Championship. I would like to extend my congratulations to Nika, Damon and Karl, who will be refereeing their first Six Nations matches, and wish all the best to all the match officials selected for the Championship.”

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6 Nations

Farrell Names 37 Player Squad For 2022 Guinness Six Nations

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Andy Farrell and the Ireland coaching group have named a 37 player squad ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship which commences in early February.

The squad will be captained by Johnny Sexton who earned his 100th cap for his country against Japan during the November international window.

Ireland will host Wales, Italy and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium over the course of the Championship while also travelling to Paris and London to face France and England respectively.

There are two uncapped players named in the extended squad – Ulster’s Michael Lowry and Connacht’s Mack Hansen. Both have trained with the national squad in the past few months, Lowry during the Vodafone Summer Series in July and Hansen during the Autumn Nations Series in November.

Michael Lowry training with Ireland during the Vodafone Summer Series, July 2021

Connacht’s Cian Prendergast will join the squad for the training camp in Portugal as a Development Player. The former Ireland U20 player has made nine appearances for Connacht this season.

James Lowe has picked up a muscle injury that has ruled him out for a number of weeks.

Andy Farrell, Ireland Head Coach, commented: “In November we challenged the group to get up to speed quickly so that the team could perform at international level. The same will apply for this Six Nations campaign, we need to be at our best against Wales on the opening weekend.

“We have a strong squad with competition for places across the board, there is a nice blend of experienced internationals and guys who have had their first taste of this level in the past 12 months.  The games in November gave us a good foundation to build on and areas where we know we will have to improve.

“It will be an exciting Championship with so many strong squads and impressive performances across the board during the Autumn.”

Ireland’s opening fixture of the 2022 Six Nations Championship is against Wales on Saturday 5th February. A week later, the squad will travel to France to take on Les Bleus in Paris. In Round 3, on Sunday 27th February, Ireland host Italy at the Aviva Stadium and then travel to Twickenham to take on England two weeks later.

In the final round of the Championship, Ireland host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 19th March.

All games will be available on free-to-air television in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. ITV (NI) will broadcast all of Ireland’s games, RTE (ROI) will broadcast the games against Wales and England while VIRGIN (ROI) will broadcast the games against France, Italy and Scotland.

IRELAND Guinness Six Nations Squad 2022

Backs (17)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 33 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 27 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 10 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 27 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 96 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 12 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 53 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 16 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) uncapped
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 92 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 101 caps CAPTAIN

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 6 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 18 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 25 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 22 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 12 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 52 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 112 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 65 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 23 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 79 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 2 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 2 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 3 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps

Development Player
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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Scotland name Six Nations Squad

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Gregor Townsend has named five uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations including Saracens back-rower Andy Christie and London Irish scrum-half Ben White.

Rory Darge, Ben Vellacott and Kyle Rowe are also rewarded with call-ups ahead of Scotland’s first game of the championship on Saturday 5 February against England.

Andy Christie represented Scotland at youth level, playing for the Under-16s and the 22-year-old has played with Saracens since 2018, becoming a prominent figure for the London side.

Ben White, aged 23, signed for London Irish last year from Leicester Tigers and featured in their victory over Edinburgh Rugby last weekend.

Fellow London Irish player Kyle Rowe is also named in the squad having impressed in the Premiership this season, notably scoring a hat-trick against Saracens and was previously a member of the Scotland 7s and U20s teams.

Darge and Vellacott have been selected due to consistently good performances at Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh respectively.

Following his memorable debut against England last year, Bath centre Cameron Redpath has recovered from injury and will once again be in contention ahead of the Six Nations opener.

During the Autumn Nations Cup, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Hodgson, Josh Bayliss, Javan Sebastian, Pierre Schoeman, Rufus McLean and Sione Tuipulotu all received their first Scotland caps and are included once again.

he squad will meet up at Oriam on Monday 24 January for a training camp before reconvening the following week ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash.

Fresh from claiming top spot in Scotland’s all-time try scoring list during the Autumn Nations Series Stuart Hogg once again captains his country.

He is joined by fellow British & Irish Lions adding their experience to the squad in Finn Russell, Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, Chris Harris, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson.

Elsewhere there are call-ups for Edinburgh pair back-row Magnus Bradbury and prop WP Nel who missed out on selection for the Autumn Nations, as did Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Gray who also returns.

Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson also earns a squad selection having not featured for Scotland in 2021.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “When you look through the squad this is the most competitive I’ve seen it in so many areas and that’s testament to the strength and depth we have.

“We are able to call-up several new players into the squad such as Andy Christie, Kyle Rowe and Ben White. We have been aware of all of the uncapped players for a while now and recently they have all experienced a breakthrough in terms of their performances at club level.

“A key part of the squad selection was rewarding form and that definitely applies to Ben Vellacott and Rory Darge who have been excellent for their clubs this season.

“We’re delighted to be able to include Cameron Redpath in the squad after missing the last few months with injury. He managed to get a game under his belt prior to the squad selection so we’ll see how he performs for Bath and in our training over the next couple of weeks.

“The Guinness Six Nations is the best competition we have in rugby so to be involved in it is a real privilege, especially starting with our oldest rivals in front of a sold-out home crowd.”

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