Follow live coverage of the Six Nations team announcements as England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland confirm their selections ahead of the opening round of tournament fixtures this weekend. England are first up as head coach Eddie Jones reveals his starting XV to take on Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. Jones must pick a team after England’s preparations for the tournament were disrupted by injuries, with Owen Farrell, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill and Jonny May just some of those experienced players the head coach must do without against Scotland.
Wales will also be announcing their team at around 11:30am GMT as the last year’s champions begin their defense of the Six Nations title away to Ireland. Wayne Pivac has also been hit by a lengthy list of injury absentees, including captain Alun Wyn Jones as well as George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi. Scotland and Ireland have fewer problems as they look to start their campaigns with home victories following inconsistent tournaments last time out and will be naming their teams in the afternoon. France face Italy in the final match of the weekend on Sunday and both of those countries will announce their starting line-ups tomorrow.
Follow live for teams news and updates ahead of the Six Nations:
England announce starting XV to face Scotland
15. Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps)
14. Max Malins (Saracens, 10 caps)
13. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 52 caps)
12. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps)
11. Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 7 episodes)
10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 5 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)
1. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps)
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 47 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 51 caps)
5. Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 3 caps)
6. Lewis Ludlam (Northampton Saints, 10 caps)
7. Tom Curry (c) (Sharks out, 36 caps)
8. Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps)
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 11:30
England team announcement: Key questions
There are very few nailed-on starters as Eddie Jones prepares to reveal his England team. First, in the front row, Jones faces a choice between Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George at hooker, as well as whether to back Joe Marler’s experience instead of Kyle Sinckler following his return to availability. Then, there is the question of who is to partner Maro Itoje now that Jonny Hill is out. The absence of Courtney Lawes, too, means there is another question at No. 6, as well as the small matter of captaincy.
Marcus Smith looks set for his first Six Nations appearance at fly-half, alongside Ben Youngs. But the injury to Owen Farrell has thrown up uncertainty in midfield. Elsewhere, Jones faces key decisions at wing.
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 11:22
England squad to face Scotland
This is the 29-man squad Eddie Jones retained as he prepares to select his team to face Scotland on Saturday.
forwards: Jamie Blamire (Newcastle Falcons, 5 caps), Ollie Chessum (Leicester Tigers, uncapped), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 31 caps), Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 36 caps), Alex Dombrandt (Harlequins, 4 caps), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 26 caps), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 31 caps), Jamie George (Saracens, 61 caps), Nick Isiekwe (Saracens, 3 caps), Maro Itoje (Saracens, 51 caps), Lewis Ludlam ( Northampton Saints, 10 caps), Joe Marler (Harlequins, 74 caps), Bevan Rodd (Sale Sharks, 2 caps), Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, 9 caps), Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 47 caps), Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 15 caps)
Backs: Mark Atkinson (Gloucester Rugby, 1 cap), Elliot Daly (Saracens, 52 caps), George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 77 caps), George Furbank (Northampton Saints, 5 caps), Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish, uncapped), Max Malins (Saracens, 10 caps), Joe Marchant (Harlequins, 7 caps), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs, 34 caps), Harry Randall (Bristol Bears, 2 caps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 43 caps), Marcus Smith (Harlequins, 5 caps), Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers, 5 caps), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 112 caps)
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 11:07
Cowan-Dickie scales back gaming in favor of family and his England role
Luke Cowan-Dickie has scaled back his gaming as part of an enhanced professional outlook that has helped propel him into England’s leadership group.
With Owen Farrell missing because of ankle surgery, Courtney Lawes will lead England in Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Scotland at Murrayfield should he recover from concussion.
If Lawes is ruled out, Eddie Jones will promote one of three vice-captains to the role, a group that is made up of Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge and Tom Curry.
While Curry would be favorite to deputize, Cowan-Dickie’s elevation to first choice hooker for England and the Lions mirrors a growing maturity that has seen him sharpen his conditioning, shed weight and now reduce the time spent on his PlayStation.
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 11:00
England rookies braced for ‘hostile’ Scotland Six Nations opener
Max Malins insists England’s rookies are ready to thrive amid the hostility awaiting at Murrayfield after being braced for what to expect in the Six Nations opener against Scotland.
Almost half of Eddie Jones’ 37-man training squad have never appeared in the Championship, while Malins and Jonny Hill made their debuts in the 2020 tournament that unfolded behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It means that an England side rebuilt after last year’s fifth-place finish will enter a dangerous opener with a large contingent of developing players who have yet to experience the intimidating atmospheres of Celtic strongholds such as Murrayfield.
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 10:50
Wales to close bars at half-time in bid to curb fan disorder
The Welsh Rugby Union has moved to curb alcohol-related disorder by ordering the bars to be closed during the second half of this year’s Six Nations matches at the Principality Stadium
The decision comes as the WRU addresses reports of anti-social behavior during the Autumn Nations Series games earlier this season.
The WRU said a number of high-profile incidents, including two intrusions onto the pitch in consecutive matches, were accompanied by some reporting of poor behavior at the 74,000-seater venue.
A statement read: “A series of measures, which include closing food and beverage outlets in all concourses after half-time in all three home matches against Scotland France and then Italy, have been put in place on a trial basis for the 2022 Championship and will be subject to an ongoing review.”
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 10:40
Josh Adams happy to play in the center as Wales launch Six Nations title defense
Josh Adams says he would be “more than happy” to play his first Test match in the center when Wales launch their Six Nations title defense on Saturday.
Adams, top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, has won all of his 35 caps as a wing.
He has posted 17 touchdowns during an outstanding international career that also saw him selected for last summer’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac selected Adams in the number 13 shirt against Autumn Nations Series opponents Fiji earlier this season, but he missed out through injury after the warm-up.
With George North, who excelled at outside center during last season’s Six Nations campaign, continuing his recovery from a serious knee injury, it could be that Pivac again turns to Adams.
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 10:30
Johnny Sexton feeling ‘great’ at 36 as he looks to extend Ireland career
Veteran Ireland captain Johnny Sexton intends to prolong his illustrious career for as long as he feels fit and wanted.
The 36-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season, expects to discuss an extension with the Irish Rugby Football Union following the Six Nations.
Sexton has repeatedly batted away questions about retirement plans and regularly expressed a desire to lead his country into next year’s World Cup in France.
The influential Leinster fly-half described his physical condition as “great”, while insisting his sole focus is Saturday’s sold-out Six Nations opener against Wales in Dublin.
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 10:20
Scotland ‘trying to put it all together’ as they target Six Nations glory
Ali Price admits buoyant Scotland must become more consistent if they are to challenge for the Six Nations title this year.
The Scots have recorded impressive victories over England, France and Australia in the last 12 months but have never won more than three of their five matches in a single Six Nations campaign.
Last year, the historic wins at Twickenham and in Paris were offset by narrow defeats against Wales and Ireland.
And Glasgow scrum-half Price acknowledges they need to string together a solid run of results if they are to win the competition for the first time since 1999, when it was still the Five Nations.
“If you get four or five wins then you’re knocking at the door on that last weekend to see where you finish up,” he said. “Last year we had a couple of famous victories away from home that we hadn’t managed to achieve for a number of years.”
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 10:12
Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill ruled out of England’s Six Nations opener against Scotland
England’s troubled build-up to the Six Nations has deteriorated further after forwards Courtney Lawes and Jonny Hill were ruled out of Saturday’s opener against Scotland.
Lawes has failed to pass the return to play protocols for concussion in time for the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield, while Hill is still struggling with a stress fracture to his lower leg.
Losing Lawes is a bitter blow for England as the Northampton flanker was set to deputize as captain for Owen Farrell, who will miss the entire Championship because of ankle surgery.
England received some positive news this week, though, after Joe Marler came through Tuesday’s critical practice session having spent the last week in self-isolation because of Covid-19.
Marler is likely to provide bench cover for Genge against the Scots, although center Joe Marchant is still quarantining due to coronavirus.
Jamie Braidwood3 February 2022 10:10
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.