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6 Nations

Scotland change 3 for Italian Clash

3 changes.

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Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to the starting Scotland team to face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome this Saturday.

Scotland have won 22 of the 30 Tests between the nations but the odds are more evenly stacked when they meet in Italy, with the contests level on six apiece thanks to a recent run of four consecutive away wins for the Scots.

Townsend said: “Italy are always a very tough opponent, especially in Rome, where we know they’ll look to play with a huge amount of energy.

“It’s a different Italy team to the one we’ve played in the past. In their opening two games of the championship they have played with real ambition and width.

“They’ve also selected athletic, ball players who suit this strategy and are comfortable playing at a high tempo.

“We are well aware of the threats throughout their team and how their attacking game can cause problems for any defence.”

Scotland’s changes see Edinburgh forwards Stuart McInally (hooker) and Ben Toolis (second-row), and Gloucester centre Chris Harris, promoted from the bench for their first start of the 2020 campaign.

McInally swaps places with Glasgow Warriors’ Fraser Brown, who moves to the bench, and Toolis comes in for the injured Jonny Gray (hand), while Harris is picked in favour of Huw Jones, with Sale Sharks wing Byron McGuigan taking his place on the bench.

Reflecting on the team changes, Townsend added: “We believe Chris [Harris] and Stuart [McInally] deserve this opportunity. They were very close to the starting fifteen when we entered this campaign. We think this is the right time for them to come in.

“Chris has been excellent for Gloucester this season and has continued to make improvements since the summer. He works very hard on both sides of the ball, which will be important this week.

“Stuart [McInally] has shown over the past few weeks he’s back to full fitness and is raring to go and Ben gets an opportunity to start following Jonny’s injury against England.

“Second-row is a position we have a lot of competition with a number of very good players available for selection. We’re looking forward to seeing how he combines again with Scott [Cummings] after a successful outing together against Russia in the World Cup.”

Glasgow Warriors pairing Ali Price and Adam Hastings return at half-back for a third Test in a row, with clubmate Sam Johnson retained in midfield to partner Harris.

Edinburgh wing Blair Kinghorn – who scored a hat-trick in the corresponding fixture at BT Murrayfield last season – is joined once more by Sean Maitland (wing) and captain Stuart Hogg (full-back) in the back field.

Props Zander Fagerson and Rory Sutherland join McInally in the front-row, with Scott Cummings reinstated to partner Toolis at lock.

The all-Edinburgh back-row of Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury makes up the loose trio once again to complete the pack.

In all the replacements bench features four changes, with second-row Grant Gilchrist and wing McGuigan taking the places vacated by the promoted Harris and Toolis, while Edinburgh tighthead Willem Nel and recent squad addition Matt Fagerson (back-row) replace Simon Berghan and Nick Haining respectively.

Edinburgh wing Darcy Graham returned to training last week but has not yet recovered sufficiently from his knee injury to be considered for this Test match.

Squad Update from Scottish Rugby

6 Nations

Cian Healy signs short term extension

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Ireland and Leinster loosehead prop Cian Healy has signed a 1 year extension to his IRFU contract up to the end of the 2021/22 season.

Cian is Ireland’s most capped prop forward having lined out for Ireland on 107 occasions to date. He made his Ireland debut against Australia in November 2009 and was selected for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia making two appearances before injury ended his involvement.

Cian has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and represented Leinster on 226 occasions winning four Heineken Cup titles during his career in blue.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Cian has been a cornerstone of both the Irish and Leinster packs for over a decade.  He has shown incredible resilience to come back from serious injury and perform at the highest level.  Cian has a lot to contribute to Irish Rugby and we are delighted that he has signed on for another year.”

Cian Healy, commented,

“My drive for success at both Leinster and Ireland is as strong as ever.  I am lucky enough to currently be part to two teams with the same mentality which is special and I look forward to another season of pushing boundaries and achieving our goals.

I’m loving my rugby as much now as I did at the very start of my career and looking forward to having our supporters back in stadia.”

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6 Nations

O’Mahony Signs Contract Extension with IRFU

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Ireland and Munster backrow Peter O’Mahony has signed a two year extension to his IRFU contract keeping him at Munster until 2023.

Peter made his Ireland debut in the Six Nations against Italy in 2012 and has gone on to win 74 caps and captain his country on eight occasions.  A Lions tourist in 2017, Peter captained the Lions in the opening Test of the series against New Zealand.

Peter has represented Munster on 141 occasions becoming captain of his province in 2013 at the age of 24.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Peter has played a leadership role in Munster from an early age and is one of the senior leaders in the national squad.  He is a competitor and passionate about playing for both Ireland and Munster.”

Peter O’Mahony, commented,

“It’s a huge privilege to sign on with the province and country I’ve grown up in and dreamed of playing for. It’s been something I’ve been very open about saying from day one and its very pleasing to be able to continue the journey for two more years.

There’s a huge amount of responsibility that comes with representing both teams and I understand how much pressure there is to deliver silverware, however, I am incredibly enthusiastic on the position and competitiveness of both Munster and Ireland and I look forward to hopefully contributing to both, to succeed in delivering that success on the pitch.”

Irish Rugby

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6 Nations

Sexton extends contract

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(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Ireland and Leinster out-half Johnny Sexton has signed a 1 year extension to his IRFU contract up to the end of the 2021/22 season.

The 2018 World Player of the Year took on the Ireland captaincy in January 2020 and is one of Irish rugby’s most decorated players.

He has been central to both Ireland and Leinster’s success for over a decade following his international debut against Fiji in November 2009.

A two time Lions tourist in 2013 and 2017, Johnny has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and four European Cups with Leinster.  He has represented his provinces on 171 occasions scoring 1505 points.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Johnny continues to show he has the quality and appetite to compete at the highest levels.  He is playing an important leadership role with the Ireland squad and his insight and experience continues to be of great value to the group.”

Johnny Sexton, commented,

“I am really enjoying my rugby and I want to keep learning and adding value to both the Ireland and Leinster environments.   I am enjoying the challenge of captaincy and the added responsibility that it brings.  My appetite for success is the same as it ever was and the ambitions of both the Ireland and Leinster squads match my own.”

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