As we head into round two of this year’s 6 Nations campaign, there are questions to be answered, teams are looking to build but who should you pick for your fantasy team?
The first game of the weekend sees Ireland head to Scotland in search of their first points of the championship against the current table-toppers. You have until the kick-off at 14 15 tomorrow to select your team.
Between these two teams you have a number of quality players to pick from. For the hosts, full-back Staurt Hogg will cost you 17.1 stars after going up in value following his impressive display last weekend.
With the metres he runs in a match and his ability to make chances out of nothing it could be money well spent.
Elsewhere for the Scots, fly-half Finn Russell will cost you 15.3 stars, while the ever reliable Greig Laidlaw comes in at 15.4.
A man to look out for is the returning Jonny Gray, who comes into the second-row and will only cost 12.7 stars.
BREAKING | Scotland make four changes for this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with Ireland @BTMurrayfield.
? Berghan and Strauss replace injured Nel and Skinner, Gray & Maitland return from injury for Toolis and Kinghorn who move to the bench.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 7, 2019
Ireland are a team looking for result and that means that the entire starting XV could be dangerous news for the Scots.
In terms of the best to pick from that 15 you would have to look towards last years player of the tournament Jacob Stockdale, who is 14.7 stars, and is on a mission to make up for his costly mistake last weekend.
Other players searching for self-improvement are the likes of Johnny Sexton, 14.7 stars, and Conor Murray, 14.2 stars.
In terms of players that have come into the team, watch out for Rob Kearney, 12.7 stars, who has a point to prove. Chris Farrell, 11.7 stars, who won man of the match in his only previous 6 Nations start, and Jack Conan, 10.8 stars, who will be hoping to impress as the only out and out No 8 in the current squad.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 7, 2019
Sergio Parisse is always a player to look out for at 11.6 stars, along with Michele Campagnaro, 12.2 stars, as the Italians look for an upset.
Jayden Hayward, 11 stars, is down as wing but starts at full-back, while Tommaso Allan is always a live-wire at out-half and is only 10.9 stars.
? #Italrugby: annunciati i titolari in campo sabato all’Olimpico per #ITAvWAL, secondo appuntamento del @SixNationsRugby 2019 ➡ https://t.co/w5dGkNxx9q#insieme #rugbypassioneitaliana @SeiNazioniRugby pic.twitter.com/XUrfBBCw7l
— Italrugby (@Federugby) February 7, 2019
With the Welsh making 10 changes there will be players hoping to impress. Dan Biggar, 14.5 stars, comes in at fly-half and is a reliable source of points, while Jonathan Davies, 14.8 stars, starts in the centre and usually puts in a good shift.
Last weeks top performer George North misses out through injury, so if you want other Welsh players to put into your starting 15 maybe consider Josh Navidi, 13.8 stars, who was impressive against France. While Aaron Wainwright, 10.8 stars, has been in good form this season and would be worth taking a gamble on.
— Welsh Rugby Union ? (@WelshRugbyUnion) February 7, 2019
The final game of the weekend is the clash of England and France.
England will hope to build on last weekend’s win over Ireland and top performers, Jonny May, 16.4 stars, Owen Farrell, 16.2 stars, and Billy Vunipola, 15.9 stars, all start.
A player to watch is Courtney Lawes, 14.4 stars, who puts in an incredible amount of work and will want to make sure he starts the next game too with a big performance.
Your England team to face France on Sunday in the #GuinnessSixNations
K.O 15:00 GMT, LIVE on @ITV.
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 8, 2019
The visitors have a point to prove after letting a 16-point lead go against Wales. Mathieu Bastareaud, 13.7 stars, comes into the centre and will be a constant threat to the English following his omission last time out.
Louis Picamoles, 14.8 stars, was incredible even in defeat and will surely give another stellar performance this week. Guilhem Guirado, 14.4 stars, is another big-game player, while wing and try scorer last weekend, Yoann Huget, 13.6 stars, switches to full-back and is worth a look.
— Fédération Française de Rugby (@FFRugby) February 8, 2019
As mentioned at the top the key this week could be your bench and there are some serious options to pick from.
Last week’s player of the round, Blair Kinghorn, who scored a hat-trick against Italy, drops to the Scottish bench and will cost you 14.5 stars. He might be worth a gamble but is down as a fly-half.
Ireland’s Josh Van Der Flier, who made 19 tackles against England last Saturday, is also on the bench and is available for only 10.8 stars.
Italy’s Edoardo Gori, 10 stars, is a constant ball of energy when unleashed onto the pitch and could cause the Welsh problems in the latter stages of the game.
Wales’ stand-out player on the bench is captain Alun Wyn Jones, however, he is a pricy 15.6 stars.
England have the powerful Nathan Hughes, 12.6 stars, to come on and could be an option.
While France’s Romain Ntamack, 11.9 stars, is the top pick on their bench and could gain a lot of metres while running if he comes on against tired English legs.
Make sure to have a look through the teams before selecting your own, but with the power of the benches and the games super-sub option, it would seem that splashing the cash on a couple of hard-hitting subs might be worthwhile.
British & Irish Lions issue Tour Update
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:
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.
Ireland make multiple changes for England
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
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
Wales name Grand Slam chasing team to face France
Wales are four from four in the Championship and top the table heading to Paris. Beard, who started the first three matches for Wales, comes back into the starting side alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones. Jones, who is the world test record holder with 156 international caps to his name (including nine British & Irish Lion appearances), will make his 148th Wales appearance on Saturday. His Wales caps alone are now equal to the second-highest capped player of all time, Richie McCaw.
Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis are named again in the front-row for Wales with Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau comprising the back-row.
Gareth Davies and Dan Biggar are named at half-back with Jonathan Davies and George North continuing their partnership in the midfield.
Josh Adams, Louis Rees-Zammit and Liam Williams make up the back-three.
“We are all looking forward to Saturday and to the finale of the Six Nations,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
“We are four from four to date but know this weekend will be a great challenge against a very good French side, but we are looking forward to it.
“We know we need to step up from our previous performances and we want to end the tournament with a performance we know we are capable of.
“We have had great continuity in selection throughout the tournament and that is shown once again with the selection for Saturday.”
Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith and Leon Brown are named as the front-row replacements for Wales with Cory Hill and James Botham completing the forward contingent. Tomos Williams returns from injury to take his place on the bench alongside Callum Sheedy and Uilisi Halaholo.
WALES TEAM TO PLAY FRANCE (SATURDAY MARCH 22 KO 21.00 LOCAL, BBC & S4C)
1. Wyn Jones (34 Caps)
2. Ken Owens (81 Caps)
3. Tomas Francis (56 Caps)
4. Adam Beard (24 Caps)
5. Alun Wyn Jones (CAPT) (147 Caps)
6. Josh Navidi (27 Caps)
7. Justin Tipuric (84 Caps)
8. Taulupe Faletau (85 Caps)
9. Gareth Davies (61 Caps)
10. Dan Biggar (91 Caps)
11. Josh Adams (31 Caps)
12. Jonathan Davies (87 Caps)
13. George North (101 Caps)
14. Louis Rees-Zammit (8 Caps)
15. Liam Williams (70 Caps)
16. Elliot Dee (36 Caps)
17. Nicky Smith (38 Caps)
18. Leon Brown (16 Caps)
19. Cory Hill (31 Caps)
20. James Botham (5 Caps)
21. Tomos Williams (21 Caps)
22. Callum Sheedy (8 Caps)
23. Uilisi Halaholo (3 Caps)