Ireland vs Scotland LIVE: Six Nations 2020 result and updates from today’s clash
Ireland take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon as the duo kick off their Six Nations campaign.
Gregor Townsend knows his Scottish side will have to pull out all the stops to defeat and Ireland outift who have won 15 of their past 16 Tests at home and are beginning a new era under head coach Andy Farrell.
Wales have set the early running with fast start against Italy in Cardiff at lunchtime and both of these sides will want to join them in beginning with a win. Follow it live after the conclusion of Wales vs Italy:
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- Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
- Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Frase Brown, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Nick Haining.
Show latest update
Good afternoon and welcome to our live coverage of the Six Nations clash between Wales and Italy this afternoon.
Less than six months on from a fabulous World Cup in Japan that broadened the game and saw eras end, hope springs eternal for the six nations who make up rugby’s great annual competition, with four new coaches, four new captains, an England side determined to, in their words, become the greatest team of all time after defeat to South Africa in the final of rugby’s showpiece. For international rugby it is a new year and a new World Cup cycle, with ambitions reset after campaigns in the Far East of both disaster and disappointment. The Six Nations is back, and we kick things off in Cardiff, with defending champions Wales welcoming Italy to the Principality Stadium.
It all gets underway in an hour, so let’s get going, shall we?
Welcome… Who are those four new coaches I hear you ask? Well, it is a big Six Nations welcome to new head honchos Wayne Pivac (Wales), Andy Farrell (Ireland), Fabien Galthie (France), and Franco Smith (Italy), each arriving with new ideas and hoping to enthuse talented squads.
Farrell, Galthie and Smith have each anointed new captains, too, with Johnny Sexton, Charles Ollivon and Luca Bigi taking over the on-field reins from stalwarts Best, Guirado and Parisse. Scotland have a new leader as well – Stuart Hogg newly installed, and immediately fighting fires in tandem with under-pressure head coach Gregor Townsend after the controversy surrounding star fly-half Finn Russell. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that England find themselves as Six Nations favourites after World Cup final defeat, Eddie Jones and Owen Farrell back amongst things as coach and captain.
Yet the Six Nations never fails to surprise, and over the next couple of months there are sure to be twists and turns. To tee it all up, here is The Independent‘s Chief Rugby Writer Jack de Menezes, refreshed and raring to go and on his way to Paris for England’s opener tomorrow:
But we begin, as mentioned, in Cardiff, at one of the great arenas of European sport, with a new era beginning for Wales. Warren Gatland has returned to New Zealand and it is another Kiwi who steps into the breach, Wayne Pivac plucked from the Scarlets of Llanelli after an impressive stint that included a Pro 14 title.
Pivac promises pace and pizzazz, developing an effervescent and free style with the Scarlets in combination with attack coach Stephen Jones, and a promising non-capped outing against the Barbarians in the back-half of the autumn showed some signs of expansion. Let’s take a look at his first Six Nations selection…
Team News – Wales
Forwards It is a largely familiar pack for Wales, with leader Alun Wyn Jones back for another go around.
The big boost is the return of Taulupe Faletau at number eight after a couple of years of real injury bother. He joins rising star Aaron Wainwright and uber-skillful Justin Tipuric in an athletic back row able to stretch defences and with the grunt to pack a punch in the tight. Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis are the props, while Ken Owens starts at hooker.
Injuries rob Wales of Josh Navidi and James Davies, but otherwise it is a strong front eight, with impact subs Ryan Elias, Cory Hill and Ross Moriarty sure to make their presence known in the last quarter.
Backs It is in the backs, however, where Pivac has had a few selection issues. The new head coach is unable to call upon Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin or Willis Halaholo, with thirteen emerging as a seriously problematic berth in the absence of three leading contenders.
Pivac’s solution is to shift George North off his wing to join Hadleigh Parkes in a powerful midfield outside of Dan Biggar, who is back to somewhere near his best and enjoying his time at Northampton. Tomos Williams gets the nod ahead of Rhys Webb (available again after agreeing a return to his homeland from Toulon) at scrum-half with Gareth Davies another absentee. Out wide there is no place (yet) for teenage superstar Louis Rees-Zammit, but Pivac does hand a debut to New Zealand-born flyer Johnny McNicholl, who has been excellent down the flanks for the Scarlets in the last few seasons.
Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny complete the back three; both are enjoying strong seasons. On the bench there is another potential debutant – Nick Tompkins of Saracens qualifies via a relative, and is a hard-running and fundamentally sound centre with an all-round skillset who is a canny pickup for Wales. Jarrod Evans takes the backup fly-half shirt in the absence of Anscombe and Rhys Patchell.
More on the hosts in a bit, but let’s not forget their opponents today.
Italy arrive desperate to prove a point. They have not won a game in this competition for 22 games, and new coach Franco Smith arrives with calls for a promotion for Georgia or an inclusion for Fiji or Japan only strengthened by a disappointing World Cup showing from the Azzurri. Smith has to deal with the departure of Italy’s greatest ever player, though Sergio Parisse will be popping in for a couple of farewells in Rome later in the tournament, but there are reasons for hope in the showing of Benneton and Zebre in the Pro14, and a group of young players who have a chance to develop into a legitimately competitive cohesive unit.
20 years on from their first inclusion in this competition, here are the men their new South African boss has tasked with shocking Wales this afternoon…
Team News – Italy
Forwards Luca Bigi takes over the captaincy from Parisse, with the hooker a developing player with plenty of grit in the tight. Alessandro Zanni is a useful older head to aid Bigi in the second row, with the experienced lock joined by Niccolo Cannone, making his debut and a potential breakout star of the Six Nations.
Plenty of positive attributes. But it is the back-row that promises much. In fact, it could be argued that Parisse’s departure is, in fact, overdue, with Braam Steyn ready to build on a break through 2019 with power aplenty, and Sebastian Negri another thumper on the flank.
Jake Polledri is perhaps the most exciting of the three, with an absurd ability to breach contact, thighs like great oak trunks and a real turn of pace. He’s one of the best ball-carriers in the world. Giovanni Licata is another back-rower of real promise on the bench, with Smith selecting a 6-2 forwards-to-backs split – the Italians are ready to front up physically.
Smith’s forward selection was mostly straightforward, but there were more choices to make behind the scrum. Callum Braley, like Polledri making great strides at Gloucester, takes the nine shirt and will combine with Tommaso Allan in the halves. Smith has spoken of wanting to establish an Italian identity for his side, and the indications from his first selection is that may mean playing with more freedom and putting width on the ball – Carlo Canna, at 12 this afternoon, is a fly-half by trade and joins Luca Morisi in the centre.
Leonardo Sarto is back on the wing along with Mattia Bellini, and after missing out through injury last year Matteo Minozzi will be keen to display all his buzzing abilities again from full-back. Now at Wasps, of course, he had a solid World Cup, and is preferred to the versatile Jayden Hayward, who covers positions 12 through 15 on the bench. Plenty of promise on paper, but can they cause some issues for Wales this afternoon?
I have touched on it already, but it is great for Wales to have both Taulupe Faletau and Rhys Webb back in the match day 23. Faletau’s rotten injury luck has finally come to an end (though he did have a scare in his last outing for Bath), while Webb’s exclusion from the squad after choosing to join Toulon has left Wales short of a fine scrum-half. They do not hurt for options at nine, of course – all of Tomos Williams, Webb and Gareth Davies are legitimate candidates for the role, and much will depend on how Wayne Pivac wants his side to play.
And as for Faletau…
This is a huge test for Taulupe Faletau, who hasn’t played a great deal of rugby in the last couple of years. Italy’s back row trio are a fearsome physical threat, and Faletau will get an immediate reminder of what Test rugby is like. He’ll rise to it, of course – people forget just what a fabulous player he is.
But that is certainly the battle to watch this afternoon – Steyn, Negri and Polledri have the potential to keep Italy in this game almost on their own. The teams are out for the anthems…
First the Italians sing, ever proud, fists upon hearts for some of the players and supported by a smattering of travelling supporters in the packed stands. Adopted sons some of the 23 may be, but they are all passionate and rise to a great crescendo, belting out the final bars of the anthem with gusto.
And now for one of the fine sounds in rugby – “Land of My Fathers (Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau)” tunefully sung by some 70,000 people…
Tears in the eyes of Alyn Wyn Jones as he sings. Wales’ great leader is ready to go again, for the 135th time in a Wales shirt.
Man in the middle Luke Pearce of England officiates the first game of this year’s competition.
He’s a rising star of officialdom, with a talkative style. James Leckie of Australia is out in the truck ready to adjudicate on anything that requires the TMO’s intervention through the afternoon. Pearce warns the Wales players to stay behind the kicker and we are underway…
Wales kick the ball down into the Italian 22 and we are underway
Italy clear long, and invite Leigh Halfpenny on the counter attack. The ball is shifted into midfield and there is a first Six Nations sighting for Johnny McNicholl, who is wrestled down near halfway. Three more phases and it is McNicholl again, weaving inside and outside and taken high.
2 minute That gives Dan Biggar licence to jig and dance, and a step inside opens space for Tomos Williams to charge onto an offload and into space, the little scrum-half past one more and to the edge of the Italian 22. Into double figures in terms of phases, and Wales build nicely.
Italy stem the flow with a firm double tackle, but intervene illegally at the ruck with scrabbling hands on the floor from Alessandro Zanni rightly pinged by Luke Pearce. Bang in front, and Dan Biggar will line one up from the tee…
PENALTY! Wales 3-0 Italy
Popped over with the greatest of ease by Dan Biggar. Wales start well.
When is it?
Wales vs Italy takes place on Saturday 1 February at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
What time does it start?
The match kicks off at 4:45pm GMT.
The match will be shown live on ITV from 4pm. Highlights will be on ITV at 10:40pm on Sunday.
Viewers can also watch the match online on the ITV Hub from 4pm.
Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Frase Brown, Zander Fagerson; Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Nick Haining.
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