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6 Nations

Scotland change 6 for England Clash

6 Changes.

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Head Coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes to the starting Scotland team to face England in this Saturday’s final Guinness Six Nations Test at Twickenham Stadium (16 March) – live on ITV.

The Scots travel south in defence of the Calcutta Cup trophy they lifted for the first time in ten years at BT Murrayfield last year, with a victory in west London escaping the Scots in each of the biennial times of asking since 1983.

Looking ahead to the challenge that awaits, Townsend said: “First of all we have to build on the positive aspects of our performance from last weekend against Wales, when we were able to generate quick ball and build a lot of pressure on the opposition.

“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.

“Winning away from home tends to be achieved through an outstanding defensive performance and we are determined to deliver that this Saturday. At times against Wales we weren’t aggressive or accurate enough so that has been a focus for us this week in training.”

He continued: “England are a quality side and have been playing really well throughout the championship.

“They have shown a different game plan this season, which is built on power, both through direct ball carrying and also getting off the line in defence.

“They’ve kicked the ball more than any other team in the Guinness Six Nations, which has worked well for them, and produced tries, and it also shows that they are more than comfortable defending for several phases.”

Scotland’s team changes are split evenly between the backs and forwards and see English Premiership pair Sean Maitland (Saracens) and Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) start in place of back-three counterparts Blair Kinghorn and Tommy Seymour – both injured in last weekend’s loss to Wales – alongside try-scorer Darcy Graham.

The alterations to the back division are completed by Glasgow Warriors inside-centre Sam Johnson, who starts his fourth Test of the tournament in place of clubmate Pete Horne.

Johnson partners fellow Warrior Nick Grigg in midfield, with half-backs Finn Russell and Ali Price starting once again.

The starting back-row features two of the three pack changes where Edinburgh openside Hamish Watson will earn his 25th cap in place of Jamie Ritchie, who has not recovered sufficiently from the head / neck injury sustained against Wales to feature this weekend.

Exeter Chiefs forward Sam Skinner – injured in the opening round win over Italy – returns to blindside flank in place of Sale Sharks’ Josh Strauss – who moves to the bench – with Edinburgh’s Magnus Bradbury moving to the national number 8 position for the first time.

The last change sees Edinburgh lock Ben Toolis start in place of Jonny Gray – who moves to the bench – alongside clubmate Grant Gilchrist to form an all-Edinburgh tight five with returning front-row forwards Allan Dell, captain Stuart McInally and Willem Nel, meaning all but one of the starting pack hails from the capital club.

Newcastle Falcons back Chris Harris marks his return from the calf injury he sustained representing his club in the fallow week of the tournament with a place on the most experienced bench to be named by Townsend this campaign.

Head Coach comments on selection…

“Both Sam Skinner and Ben Toolis started for us against Italy and deserve another opportunity to show what they can do in a blue jersey.

“While it’s tough on Jamie to miss this game through injury, we’re delighted to bring back Hamish Watson into the starting line-up. He made a real impact on Saturday and we have no doubt that he’s ready to take the game to the opposition in attack and defence.

“Sam [Skinner] brings a lot of set-piece nous and gives us good balance in the back-row and we are keen to give Magnus [Bradbury] an opportunity to start at number eight.

“His match fitness has grown over the last two games and he did a number of good things last weekend. There is more to come from him and, as a pack, we know we have to deliver a massive performance of work-rate and physicality this weekend.

“Sam Johnson gets an opportunity to build on his strong performances against Italy and Ireland, while it’s good to have Sean Maitland back in the back-three alongside Darcy and Byron, who both played well last weekend.

“These three players and the team as a whole, will have to put in a lot of work off the ball to counter this threat on Saturday.”

6 Nations

Jones Drops 10 for Six Nations Squad

England head coach Eddie Jones has named his Six Nations squad and has left out 10 players that were involved in the recent Rugby World Cup

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England head coach Eddie Jones has confirmed his 34-man strong squad for the upcoming Six Nations campaign, but has dropped 10 players from his recent Rugby World Cup campaign.

Of the absentees Saracens No 8 Billy Vunipola is the biggest name to miss out following the news that he will be injured for the entire tournament through injury. 

Other big hitters to be excluded are Joe Cokanasiga, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, and veteran Dan Cole. 

However, in their absence there is a total of eight uncapped players set to be involved in Tom Dunn, Ollie Thorley, Ben Earl, Jacob Umaga, Alex Moon, George Furbank, Fraser Dingwell and Will Stuart. 

Speaking on their selection Jones admitted that they all have a chance of playing, but that he wanted them to at least be amongst the squad as they build towards the future. 

“It is always about winning the next game so we have picked the best squad available. At the same time we wanted to bring some young players in because we need to keep building our depth so for those new players it is an exciting opportunity for them,” he said. 

Meanwhile, there is also the inclusion of Josh Hodge and Alex Mitchell, who have been named as apprentices for the campaign and will be training with the first-team squad. 

Elsewhere, it is the familiar faces that make-up the squad with the likes of Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi among the experienced players. 

With expectation building following their run to the World Cup final last year, Jones has confirmed that the team remain focused on one task and that is their opening game against France in a couple of weeks. 

“The Guinness Six Nations for us is all about raising the standards in terms of the way we prepare, tactically and physically how we play the game, and the way we come together off the field. But our first task is beating France in France and that is the only game we need to worry about. We will begin our preparations in Portugal, get a bit of sun, some warm conditions and get ourselves physically and mentally right for the game. The first three days will be about getting organised. We have got players from 11 clubs so we need to get everyone on the same page quickly, spend a lot of time working on our togetherness and then by Tuesday next week we are in Test preparation for France,” he added. 

England will be hoping to continue their fine form that saw them pick up silver medals at the tournament in Japan and with some exciting young players having an opportunity things are looking good for Jones and his men. 

Check Out the Full 34-Man Squad Below.

Forwards:

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 21 caps)

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 19 caps)

Tom Dunn (Exeter Chiefs, uncapped)

Ben Earl (Saracens, uncapped)

Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 12 caps)

Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 14 caps)

Jamie George (Saracens, 45 caps)

Ted Hill (Worcester Warriors, 1 cap)

Maro Itoje (Saracens, 34 caps)

George Kruis (Saracens, 41 caps)

Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 62 caps)

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 81 caps)

Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 6 caps)

Joe Marler (Harlequins, 68 caps)

Alex Moon (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 31 caps)

Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, uncapped)

Sam Underhill (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 58 caps)

Harry Williams (Exeter Chiefs, 18 caps)

Backs:

Elliot Daly (Saracens, 39 caps)

Ollie Devoto (Exeter Chiefs, 1 cap)

Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Owen Farrell (Saracens, 79 caps)

George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 65 caps)

George Furbank (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Willi Heinz (Gloucester Rugby, 9 caps)

Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 47 caps)

Jonny May (Leicester Tigers, 52 caps)

Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby, uncapped)

Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers, 40 caps)

Jacob Umaga (Wasps, uncapped)

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 42 caps)

Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 95 caps)

Apprentice players:

Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints, uncapped)

Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons, uncapped)

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6 Nations

Farrell Names Ireland’s Six Nations Squad

New Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has confirmed a 35-man strong squad ahead of the upcoming Six Nations campaign

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(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

New Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has named his first Six Nations squad ahead of the upcoming campaign with some uncapped players set to be involved.

There is a total of five uncapped players within the squad, while Farrell and his coaching staff have included a further four development players that will train with the senior squad. 

Of the uncapped players three come from Leinster in the form of Max Deegan, Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher, while the other two are Billy Burns and Tom O’Toole from Ulster

All of the five have been in blistering form so far this season, helping Leinster and Ulster to first and second in Conference A of the PRO14 respectively. 

Meanwhile, Leinster’s Will Connors, Harry Byrne and Ryan Baird are joined by Ulster’s Robert Baloucoune in the development programme which will see the quartet train with the squad in Portugal in the lead up to the opening round of the tournament. 

Speaking on the selections Farrell admitted that he has been impressed by the players that attended a “stock take” last month, but has told players that their places are not guaranteed throughout the entire tournament.

“As we progress through the Championship we will look to select sides that we believe are best suited to the task at the weekend. We will keep a close eye on the provincial performances in the PRO14 not just for the players in the squad that will transition back for game minutes but also for those players that were part of the wider selection discussions over the past few weeks,” he said. 

Elsewhere, Johnny Sexton has been named as captain following the retirement of Rory Best following the Rugby World Cup in Japan and Farrell believes that he is the perfect man for the job. 

“We have appointed Johnny as captain for the Six Nations Championship, you can see what it means to him and the enthusiasm he will bring to the role. He has been developing as a leader for a number of years with Ireland, Leinster and the Lions and he will be a positive voice for the group,” he added. 

There is a return to test rugby for Devin Toner, who was left out of that squad that travelled to Japan, with his replacement Jean Kleyn not being selected. Ultan Dillane is also back as a second-row option alongside stars Iain Henderson and James Ryan. 

However, despite his excellent form for Leinster Jamison Gibson-Park is not selected, with John Cooney, Luke McGrath and Conor Murray being preferred in the scrum-half department. 

Along with Gibson-Park Ulster fans will be unhappy to see centre Stuart McCloskey miss out after his fine form this season to date, with Chris Farrell, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose getting the nod ahead of him. 

The rest of the squad is as you would expect with regular players involved. 

Ireland will be hoping to get off to the perfect start in the championship when they host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday February 1st and fans will be excited to see how many youngsters get a chance in what is the start of a new era for Irish Rugby. 

Check Out the Full 35-Man Squad Below. 

Forwards (19):

Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster) 0 caps

Caelan Doris (UCD/Leinster) 0 caps

Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht) 14 caps

Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster) 41 caps

Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 95 caps

Dave Heffernan (Buccaneers/Connacht) 1 cap

Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster) 53 caps

Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 8 caps

Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster) 0 caps

Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 36 caps

Jack McGrath (St Mary’s College/Ulster) 56 caps

Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster) 2 caps

Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster) 64 caps

Tom O’Toole (Banbridge/Ulster) 0 caps

Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

James Ryan (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster) 38 caps

Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster) 67 caps

Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 23 caps

Backs (16):

Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 4 caps

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht) 23 caps

Billy Burns (Ulster) 0 caps

Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 3 caps

Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 18 caps

John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 8 caps

Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster) 82 caps

Chris Farrell (Young Munster/Munster) 9 caps

Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster) 40 caps

Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster) 19 caps

Jordan Larmour (St Mary’s College/Leinster) 21 caps

Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 19 caps

Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster) 78 caps

Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 28 caps

Jonathan Sexton (St Marys College/Leinster) 88 caps CAPTAIN

Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster) 25 caps

Development Players:

Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)

Robert Baloucoune (Enniskillen/Ulster)

Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster)

Will Connors (UCD/Leinster).

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6 Nations

Scotland Confirm Six Nations Squad

Scotland have confirmed their 38-man squad for this year’s Six Nations championship

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(Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has announced his 38-man squad for this year’s Six Nations with six uncapped players among the players involved.

There are four forwards included in the uncapped bracket with Edinburgh back-rowers Luke Crosbie and Nick Haining being joined by lock Alex Craig and back-row Tom Gordon. 

Gordon is one of three uncapped players to come from Glasgow Warriors with Kyle Steyn and Ratu Tagive the two backs selected. 

However, despite the youngsters being selected, there is a long-serving player leading the squad as Stuart Hogg has been named as captain of the team. 

With 72 caps to his name, he is the most experienced player within the squad and has been named player of the tournament twice before in 2016 and 2017. Townsend thinks that Hogg is he perfect man for the job. 

“Stuart is very passionate about playing for Scotland and he’s determined to do all he can to improve Scotland. He really cares about playing for his country, what the jersey represents and also getting the best out of his teammates. He’s a really intelligent rugby player who’s is learning and improving with every season. He’s very good at bringing others into the game and building relationships with those around him. He’s very well respected by our coaching and playing group but that isn’t based on the accolades he’s earned. It’s more about what he does every day at training. He brings energy, is very accurate, he stays out longer to work on his game and more often than not he’s the loudest player on the field, guiding or congratulating his teammates,” he said. 

Elsewhere in the squad Townsend has selected the likes of Finn Russell, Sean Maitland, Jonny Gray and Fraser Brown to help guide a relatively inexperienced side. 

Scotland take on Ireland in the first round of this year’s tournament and will hope to hit the ground running following a poor Rugby World Cup campaign in which they failed to progress from their pool. 

Check Out the Full 38-Man Squad Below. 

Forwards (21):

Simon Berghan (Edinburgh) – 24 caps

Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh) – 15 caps

Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 11 caps

Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 46 caps

Alex Craig (Gloucester) – uncapped

Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh) – uncapped

Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps

Allan Dell (London Irish) – 28 caps

Cornell du Preez (Worcester Warriors) – 6 caps

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 25 caps

Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 40 caps

Tom Gordon (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped

Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) – 55 caps

Nick Haining (Edinburgh) – uncapped

Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 33 caps

Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 35 caps

Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 14 caps

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 3 caps

Ben Toolis (Edinburgh) – 22 caps

George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 28 caps

Backs (17):

Darcy Graham (Edinburgh) – 11 caps

Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 14 caps

Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN – 72 caps

George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 10 caps

Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) – 3 caps

Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 9 caps

Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 23 caps

Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 17 caps

Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 44 caps

Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 9 caps

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 28 caps

Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh) – 28 caps

Finn Russell (Racing 92) – 49 caps

Matt Scott (Edinburgh) – 39 caps

Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped

Ratu Tagive (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped

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