France wing Teddy Thomas rued lacking the pace of Usain Bolt after he failed to stop Matteo Minozzi scoring a try for Italy in their Six Nations clash on Sunday.

Thomas was the first of five France players to touch down in a 35-22 bonus-point victory over Italy at the Stade de France, latching onto Romain Ntamack's grubber kick in the seventh minute.

Charles Ollivon burrowed over on the left to give Les Bleus a 13-0 lead, but Minozzi capitalised on Thomas rushing forward and leaving space in behind to reduce the deficit.

Gregory Alldritt went over before half-time, while Ntamack and replacement scrum-half Baptiste Serin scored wonderful solo tries either side of Federico Zani's score.

Mattia Bellini got a third try for Italy but they were unable to earn a bonus point at the death as they succumbed to a 24th straight loss in the Six Nations.

Asked about his defending on the Azzurri's first, Thomas said: "I got up to close down quickly but the Italian number 10 has the right to play well.

"He managed to get out a pretty amazing pass and it was too late to turn around and get back. Unfortunately, I'm not Usain Bolt.

"It's up to me to adapt to the system."

Having beaten Rugby World Cup finalists England in their opening game, France sit top of the Six Nations standings with two wins from as many matches.

However, for the second game running they lost concentration in the second half and came under increasing pressure.

"Even if everything was not perfect, we must remember the positives. It would be pretentious not to be satisfied after a win, regardless of the opponent," said Thomas.

"It's not perfect, otherwise we would've taken 10 points from a possible 10. But nine out of 10 is still good enough.

"We are unable to say, 'We're going to win this tournament.' What we are aiming for, first of all, is to keep our discipline for 80 minutes instead of 50 or 60.

"What is really nice is that we are creating a good team spirit. It has often been said you can get bored in Marcoussis but the opposite is the case.

"We are happy to train together, happy to share moments off the field."

The exiled Finn Russell has sharply criticised Scotland's style of play and team environment under head coach Gregor Townsend, suggesting he will only represent his country again when he can see "big changes" have been made.

Russell played no part in Scotland's first two Six Nations games, having been disciplined for a "breach of team protocol" in camp prior to the opening-round loss to Ireland.

Townsend suggested earlier this week he would reassess the influential fly-half's potential involvement following Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with England at Murrayfield, which they went on to lose 13-6.

However, the prospect of Russell making a swift return to national team duties appear remote after the Racing 92 playmaker highlighted a number of grievances in an interview with the Sunday Times.

"I'd love to play for Scotland again because I love playing for my country. But until I see or feel the big changes that I need to get back to playing my best, it's going to be very hard for me to do it," said Russell.

"The current situation, set-up and environment, I don't think I want to play in that. I don't think it’s good for me as a person or as a player. I've felt like this for more than a year, and the last three weeks have shown me that it doesn't seem to be changing at all."

Discussing Townsend, who was also previously his club boss at Glasgow Warriors, Russell added: "Eight years I've had him as a coach, and I don't really know him at all. We've not got a personal relationship.

"I want the best for Scotland and so I've questioned the environment to try and make it better. We have clashed quite a lot, him saying one thing and me saying another.

"It's come to a point where I'm saying, 'You can be you and I'm going to be me - that's how this relationship is going to be'. Well, it's not really a relationship."

In a further dig at Townsend, Russell said: "A lot our game plan last year revolved around stats and kicking, and for me, that's not rugby. Some of the meetings last year, it was like, 'What are actually trying to do here?'

"It’s hard for the other boys to say anything. They're contracted to the SRU [Scottish Rugby Union]."

Russell's breach of team protocol reportedly related to a late-night drinking session at the team hotel, but the 27-year-old insists he only had "two beers with dinner" before ordering one more in a move that apparently infuriated some of his team-mates.

"The players at dinner were like, 'No more drinking'," Russell explained. "These are guys I know well, so I said, 'What’s the problem, I've just played [for Racing], I just want a couple of beers', and they said that's what the leaders had agreed.

"I'm part of the leaders group, but they'd had the meeting before I got there. I'd not had a say. So for me, straight away, it was set up pretty poorly.

"This whole situation with Scotland has been made out to be about me wanting to have a drink, when in actual fact, it’s about control, respect and trust, on and off the pitch.

"I'm not turning my back on my country or the boys, this is a personal thing between me and Gregor. I want to be with them. But just now it's not really possible for me to be involved."

Eddie Jones was left angry with Scotland fans after a member of his coaching team was hit by a beer bottle and Owen Farrell was booed when kicking during England's Six Nations win at Murrayfield.

Neil Craig, England's head of performance, was hit by a bottle thrown from among Scotland supporters as Jones' side entered the stadium ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash on Saturday.

There was also jeering of Farrell when he kicked for goal during England's 13-6 win, which was secured thanks to Ellis Genge's solitary try during dreadful weather conditions brought on by Storm Ciara.

It was Jones' first visit to Murrayfield since a 25-13 defeat two years ago, after which the England coach received vociferous verbal abuse outside a Manchester train station the next day.

"We weren't expecting beer bottles to be thrown – that's a new trick," Jones said. "It's a pretty good achievement, throwing beer bottles. You've got to be brave to throw a beer bottle.

"Neil has a hard head, I know that, and there's not much inside it. He will be all right."

When asked if England would consider making a formal complaint, Jones said: "It's not going to do anything, is it? Everybody knows about it, so someone can do something about it. It's not good behaviour, is it?"

Jones went on to accuse the Scottish fans of lacking respect over their heckling of Farrell, who kicked eight points despite missing three penalties in the swirling wind.

"Rugby did have a culture of respect and if there is a new level of respect in Scotland then we have to put up with it. Obviously, they think there is," said Jones.

"If that's how the Scottish fans will be respectful then we have to acknowledge it and get on with it. It was an old-fashioned Calcutta Cup game with swirling wind and an aggressive crowd without manners – I thought you were supposed to show kickers respect?"

The result was just what Rugby World Cup finalists England needed following their opening-game loss to France. 

Andy Farrell feels two battling wins to open the Six Nations have Ireland "in a great place" ahead of their trip to face England at Twickenham.

Ireland saw off defending champions Wales with a 24-14 bonus-point win in Dublin on Saturday.

Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway scored as Farrell's men answered critics who had questioned them following an unconvincing opening win over Scotland.

Farrell conceded Ireland are still not at their peak but could not be happier with the base they now have to build from before facing England on February 23.

"The things that you're working on, it isn't going to come to fruition straight away," the Ireland head coach said to RTE.

"But what you want to try and see is a bit of fight and we're certainly seeing that over the two weeks - it puts us in a great place to keep building.

"Two from two and still plenty to do. It was another gutsy, gritty performance. First half we created opportunity after opportunity and we probably didn't convert as much as we possibly should have.

"I've absolutely no doubt that Wales were really pleased with the half-time result because of the strong wind and the opportunities we didn't convert, but how we managed that second half against a strong wind was really clinical.

"Our defence was superb and our set-piece tightened up. There are some good signs of what we're trying to do. I've just said to the boys that it's a great place to be, knowing what we're trying to achieve and we're nowhere near that yet.

"If you've got a foundation like that, you can build massively."

CJ Stander, man of the match for the second straight week having faced Scotland at blindside flanker and Wales at number eight, was among players to win the praise of Farrell, as did captain Johnny Sexton and his two wings.

"He was awesome, he is a guy who has come in for a bit of stick as well, but he's got two man of the matches – those performances say it all about the guy," Farrell said of Stander, who was sent to the sin-bin in the final moments of the contest.

"I've never seen a standing ovation for a yellow card before but he deserved it."

Of Sexton, Farrell added: "He's in control, isn’t he? That's what he's done all his life and that's what he does best. With the added responsibilities of captaincy, I think he's added to his game, actually.

"And Andrew Conway was outstanding. We want our wings to go at it 100 per cent and he defined that. Jacob Stockdale did the same on the other wing as well. 

"We want to play to space because we've got some really exciting backs and we like to give them one on ones. We were excellent, on the front foot in defence and attack throughout.

"We wanted to be nice and physical right through. We had some big moments last week, especially when we had to dig deep to hold on and win but here we got that intensity 100 per cent across the 80 minutes.

"We're in a great place, we had a great week's preparation and good, honest feedback from the boys in the aftermath to the display against the Scots.

"We saw an improved performance, but we all know, the coaches and the players, there is still plenty more in us even after a bonus-point win."

Ellis Genge took a swipe at the "sausages" who criticised England following a Six Nations defeat to France after they beat Scotland to regain the Calcutta Cup on a bleak Saturday at Murrayfield.

The Rugby World Cup runners-up made a poor start to the tournament last weekend, paying the price for an error-strewn performance by losing 24-17 in Paris.

England rolled up their sleeves to respond with a 13-6 victory in a Storm Ciara-battered Edinburgh, Genge scoring the only try 10 minutes from time.

Jones' side showed they were up for the fight in driving rain and strong winds and the replacement prop let his feelings be known after they lifted the Calcutta Cup for the first time in three years.

Asked about the emotion of scoring the winning try, he told BBC Sport: "I don't know; I can't remember. It was 20 minutes ago, and it was all a bit of a blur, it happens quite quick.

"We played well and luckily I was the one that picked it up. Quite a few of the boys are getting drug tested so it's quite quiet in the changing room.

"We are buzzing to win but there is more to come. We had a bump in the road last week and people were saying we were not good enough.

"It's classic – you have a lot of sausages that say things that come to their head. What are they on about? We go away and win in Scotland in the rain and they are full of praise again. I hope we have shut them up."

Jones is hopeful his side can kick on with a showdown against Ireland to come at Twickenham following a weekend off.

"Apart from 15 minutes, we dominated the game. We had a few poor kicks, but we dominated possession and we finished it off, which we didn't do last week," said the England head coach.

"It was an old-fashioned Calcutta Cup game, swirling wind and an aggressive crowd without manners.

"There is a lot of growth for us. I under-prepared the side for the first game but we'll get stronger as the weeks go on."

Wayne Pivac acknowledged Wales had conceded an "unacceptable" level of turnovers after he suffered his first defeat as head coach against Ireland in the Six Nations.

Ireland recorded a 24-14 bonus-point victory in Dublin on Saturday which ended Wales' hopes of winning consecutive Grand Slams.

An error-strewn display saw the visitors make 17 handling errors and Pivac admitted their opponents were worthy winners, Tomos Williams and Justin Tipuric having scored his side's only tries.

"There were just too many turnovers when we were in good positions on the field," Pivac said.

"We turned the ball over eight times through handling, that is unacceptable at this level of the game.

"There were inaccuracies in their 22 and we let them off the hook a couple of times. The difference was when they got down there they were very accurate and scored the tries that we weren't able to.

"We have got to be very accurate in our passing game, it's something we will need to go away and work on. You are not able to build that constant pressure which Ireland were able to do when they scored a couple of their tries.

"Some of the handling errors, we will go and look at them. They weren't always under pressure. Some of it was skill execution. But the Irish deserved to win this game."

Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes had a try disallowed by the TMO in the second half when he just lost control of the ball as he stretched for the try-line.

Pivac added: "It was a big decision, but the decision was right. He didn't have control, so we didn't get rewarded with the points.

"It wasn't through a lack of effort. With 20 minutes to go, it's game on at that point if it's scored."

Ahead of their next clash at home to France, Wales have fitness concerns over in-form wing Josh Adams, who left the match in the first half, while fly-half Dan Biggar came off early in the second period.

Biggar failed a head injury assessment, a fate he also suffered twice at the Rugby World Cup.

"Dan failed a HIA so he'll go through the normal protocol there," said Pivac. "Josh had a knock to a hip so he will be getting that checked."

And he added of the defeat: "It's an opportunity for us to have a look at our game. We were put under pressure and we will see where we have to work harder to make sure we get those things right for the next match.

"It is a tournament and we've got another three matches to look forward to. We'll be working very hard to get the areas right that we need to so we can put on a better performance next time around.

"So we have to go away and work hard at our game and make sure we are a little bit better in those areas for the French game."

Ellis Genge scored the only try of a scrappy battle in horrendous conditions as England regained the Calcutta Cup with a 13-6 defeat of Scotland at a sodden Murrayfield.

There was little to separate the fierce rivals on a bleak Saturday in Edinburgh, lashed by Storm Ciara, after Adam Hastings' penalty brought Scotland level following Owen Farrell's strike from the tee in the first half.

That was until replacement prop Genge touched down 10 minutes from time after England were awarded a scrum five yards from the post when Stuart Hogg was adjudged to have made downward pressure on the ball, having spilled it over his own line.

Farrell missed three penalties, with the rain teeming down and wind howling, but was successful with a second to increase his side's lead after adding the extras to Genge's try.

A second Hastings penalty reduced the deficit to seven points, but the Rugby World Cup runners-up held on to beat their old rivals the first time in three years.

England deserved to win an ugly contest after losing to France on the opening weekend of the Six Nations, while Scotland have lost two out of two - Hogg's mistake proving to be pivotal after the captain inexplicably dropped the ball when he should have scored against Ireland.

Josh van der Flier felt Ireland were in control during their vital 24-14 Six Nations victory over Wales on Saturday.

Ireland's performance in a narrow win over Scotland last week prompted questions over their championship credentials, but they ran in four tries in an impressive home triumph in Dublin.

They have now won 17 of their last 18 Tests at the Aviva Stadium after ending Wales' hopes of winning back-to-back Grand Slams.

Van der Flier and Andrew Conway scored tries in the second half as Ireland built on a 12-7 half-time lead given to them by Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong, with Andy Farrell's men claiming a bonus point.

"We did a lot of things we said we wanted to do and I thought we controlled the game," flanker Van der Flier told RTE.

"In defence we slipped off a lot of tackles last week and were probably a bit soft in the contact area. It gave Scotland easy yards and we knew we couldn't do that against Wales.

"I thought our attack looked pretty fluid and our backs were exceptional. It was great to get the win over last year's Grand Slam champions, they are an incredible team and we saw last week how good they are."

Ireland were inspired by number eight CJ Stander, the man of the match for a second consecutive week, and they now have a break before travelling to Twickenham for a clash with England on February 23.

Van der Flier added: "The break will do us good, but we are building up a nice momentum. In the dressing room we focused afterwards on the good things we did.

"We know we have much to work on for the England game, but we will look at those learnings when we get back into camp." 

Wing Jacob Stockdale, meanwhile, believes Ireland will only get better as they continue to adapt to new head coach Farrell.

"It's going to take a few weeks to get into the new coaching structure and new ideas but I thought we did it really well," he said.

"Our physicality was brought to the next level but in all fairness to Wales they came and pushed us hard. They fired a few shots early on.

"It's great to get the win. We are always looking for the kicks in behind and we know the 15s like to get quite high early. It worked out really well.

"We know how good we can be when we are on it with our carrying and at the breakdown. Once we started to do that, the tries started to come."

There were winds of change in Dublin on Saturday as ferocious Ireland denied Wales a record-equalling ninth consecutive Six Nations victory with Storm Ciara fast approaching.

Wales crossed the Irish Sea braced for an almighty arm wrestle after an emphatic defeat of Italy on the opening weekend of their first tournament since Wayne Pivac replaced Warren Gatland.

The defending champions were second best in the battle of the 2018 and 2019 Grand Slam winners, failing to match their best winning run in the tournament at the Aviva Stadium – such a fortress for the men in green.

A highly anticipated showdown was expected to be badly affected by high winds and torrential rain, yet it was Ireland doing the damage in the first half to lay the platform for a magnificent 24-14 win.

Unconvincing in a win over Scotland at the start of the Andy Farrell era last weekend, this was much more like the Ireland side that was crowned champions under Joe Schmidt two years ago and topped the world rankings.

So uncompromising up front, with CJ Stander outstanding at number eight to claim a second successive man-of-the-match award, Ireland were magnificent in defence and clinical in attack.

The pressure finally told midway through the first half when the nimble-footed Jordan Larmour pierced a hole in the Wales defence, Nick Tomkins unable to haul the full-back to the ground before he touched down.

Johnny Sexton made a mess of the conversion attempt and Wales were in front against the run of play after Tomos Williams rounded off a slick move following great work from Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones.

Tadhg Furlong ploughed his way over at the other end as Ireland continued to batter away at the Wales pack and Josh van der Flier gave them breathing space when the holders were unable to halt a driving maul.

Hadleigh Parkes had a try ruled out before huge roars echoed around the ground when Wales were penalised at a scrum close to the Ireland line, prompting Farrell to leap up and punch the air. 

With the wind gusting at an increasing speed, Wales were much more of a force in the second half but Andrew Conway's try gave ruthless Ireland the bonus point.

Justin Tipuric crossed right at the end, but the damage had already been done as Ireland, led so well by Sexton, made it two wins out of two.

Wales also lost in-form wing Josh Adams and Biggar to injury as the Rugby World Cup semi-finalists suffered a first Six Nations defeat since losing to Ireland in Dublin two years ago.

Ireland handed Wales a first Six Nations defeat in nine matches as they ran in four tries for an impressive 24-14 bonus-point victory in Dublin on Saturday.

Andy Farrell's side were laboured in their win over Scotland on the opening week, but this time tries from Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway secured a morale-boosting triumph.

Ireland have now won 17 of their last 18 Tests at the Aviva Stadium and will travel to play England – the only team to beat them in that marvellous run - on matchday three with a 100 per cent record in this year's tournament.

Wales' hopes of winning back-to-back Grand Slams and equalling their best-ever run in the competition, a run of nine victories that ended in 1973, were ended as new head coach Wayne Pivac suffered his first defeat.

Tomos Williams and Justin Tipuric scored a try in each half for the defending champions, but Wales have still not enjoyed a Six Nations win in Ireland since 2012.

Ireland made the early running and while a gutsy decision to go for the corner with a penalty did not pay off, the hosts did get a 19th-minute breakthrough.

After the forwards made impressive ground, Larmour seized an opening as he cut inside and fought his way past Nick Tompkins before powering over, although Johnny Sexton shanked a dreadful conversion wide.

A frustrating start for Wales got worse when in-form wing Josh Adams was lost to injury, though they struck out of the blue after 27 minutes when Williams went over after capitalising on a superb exchange between Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones.

But Williams made a costly knock-on just four minutes later to present Ireland with an attacking scrum and Furlong forced his way across the line, with Sexton this time adding the extras to give his side a 12-7 half-time lead.

A stolen lineout gave Ireland momentum just after the restart and, after they kicked a penalty into touch, Van der Flier rolled over the line as part of a driving maul, with Sexton extending the advantage to 12 points.

Hadleigh Parkes was inches away from getting Wales back into it, but the TMO ruled he had just lost control of the ball with a powerful reach forward to the try-line.

Another big chance went begging when Ireland forced a scrum collapse under their own goalposts, a pivotal moment the home forwards celebrated like a match-winning try.

Conway made sure of the victory and a bonus point five minutes from time as he charged in down the right after being released by Larmour, with Tipuric's late stretch over the line at the other end only proving a consolation.

Stuart Hogg says Scotland are too consumed with plans to turn over England at Murrayfield on Saturday to engage in a war of words.

England head coach Eddie Jones yet again started the mind games by referring to Gregor Townsend's side as "niggly" and a team that look to "goad" opponents.

Back-row forward Lewis Ludlam also vowed that the Rugby World Cup runners-up will be prepared to go to "war" against the Auld Enemy in the second round of the Six Nations.

Yet captain Hogg says Scotland are only interested in giving themselves every chance of retaining the Calcutta Cup, which they have held since 2018.

The British and Irish Lions full-back said: "Look, my job is to make sure I'm concentrating on getting my performance spot-on but also making sure the team is switched on.

"We're here for the right reasons, not listening to what others have got to say.

"We're concentrating on what happens within the four walls of our changing room and making sure we are focused and ready."

Scotland and England were beaten by Ireland and France respectively on the opening weekend, and Hogg is confident Townsend's men can respond with a victory.

"I think I've made it pretty clear I've got a lot of respect for England," the Exeter Chiefs man added.

"I've been fortunate enough to play for a few of their boys on Lions tours and they're world class.

"But we want an opportunity to turn them over. I fully believe in our team, that we can do that and we'll do everything in our power."

France and Italy both make just one change to their starting line-ups for the Six Nations clash at the Stade de France on Sunday.

Former Les Bleus Under-20 captain Arthur Vincent replaces powerhouse centre Virimi Vakatawa, who suffered a triceps injury in the victory over England last Sunday, to make his first Test start.

Romain Taofifenua replaces Vincent in the matchday squad, so Fabien Galthie has six forwards to call upon among the replacements in Paris.

Italy were thumped 42-0 by Wales in their opener, but Jayden Hayward's inclusion at full-back is the only alteration made by Franco Smith.

Matteo Minozzi shifts from number 15 to the left wing, with Leonardo Sarto overlooked for the Azzurri's second match of the tournament.

France have triumphed in 18 of their 20 clashes with Italy in the Six Nations, including winning all 10 of their home games.

 

France: Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Vincent Rattez, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon (captain), Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Jefferson Poirot, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Boris Palu, Cameron Woki, Baptiste Serin, Matthieu Jalibert.

Italy: Jayden Hayward, Mattia Bellini, Luca Morisi, Carlo Canna, Matteo Minozzi, Tommaso Allan, Callum Braley; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi (captain), Giosue Zilocchi, Alessandro Zanni, Niccolo Cannone, Sebastian Negri, Jake Polledri, Abraham Steyn.

Replacements: Federico Zani, Danilo Fischetti, Marco Riccioni, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, Giovanni Licata, Guglielmo Palazzani, Giulio Bisegni.

The opening round of fixtures in this year's Six Nations did not disappoint.

Wales served up a feast of tries to kick things off, the defending champions showing a cutting edge as they thrashed poor Italy 42-0 in Cardiff.

The score was far closer at the Aviva Stadium, though, as Ireland edged out Scotland. New captain Johnny Sexton was the hero for the hosts, scoring all their points in a hard-fought 19-12 triumph. Next up: Wales.

England, meanwhile, got their just deserts following a shocking start against France. Failing to score a point in the opening half of a game in the tournament for the first time since 1988 left Eddie Jones' side with too much to do in Paris, Les Bleus delighting the home crowd by holding on for a 24-17 win on Sunday.

So, what will be on the menu for the second week? With help from Opta, we whet your appetite for the upcoming games.

 

Ireland v Wales

- Wales have lost just one of their last five Six Nations games against Ireland (W3, D1). However, their solitary defeat in that spell came the last time they travelled to Dublin in the tournament (2018).

- As for Ireland, they have an outstanding home record, losing just two of the last 22 Tests they have played in front of their own fans (W19, D1). Those defeats? Against New Zealand (November 2016) and England (February 2019).

- Wales gained the most metres (563) of any side in last weekend's opening round, ahead of Ireland (413). Wales also topped the charts for clean breaks (12) and defenders beaten (26, level with Scotland and France).

- Ireland's Jordan Larmour made the most carries (19) and metres (138) of any player last weekend, while Wales' Leigh Halfpenny ranked second in both categories (17 carries, 107 metres).

- Josh Adams crossed for a hat-trick against Italy, taking him to 13 tries in Test rugby since the beginning of 2019. That tally is two more than any other player has managed over that same period of time.


Scotland v England

- Scotland are unbeaten in their last two Six Nations matches against England (W1, D1), this after losing seven in a row before that. Not since 1982-1984 have Scotland gone unbeaten in three straight Calcutta Cup fixtures (W2, D1).

- Only once since 2000 have England suffered successive defeats to open a campaign (2005), but they have lost five of their last seven away outings, including the last two.

- England won 17 of their 18 lineouts in the defeat to France, their 94 per cent success rate the best of any side. In contrast, Scotland's 78 per cent success rate was the worst out of the nations.

- Stuart Hogg beat eight defenders against Ireland, more than any other player in week one. Team-mate Jonny Gray excelled in defence, ending as the joint-top tackler (22, level with Bernard Le Roux).

- Owen Farrell is 20 points away from reaching 900 for England in Test rugby. His highest haul in an international match came against Scotland in 2017, as he landed seven conversions and four penalties to finish with 26.


France v Italy

- France have won 18 of their 20 clashes with Italy in the Six Nations (L2) – scoring victories in each of their 10 home games in that run. They have averaged four tries per game against the Azzurri in the Championship, too.

- Italy hold an unwanted record, having now lost their last 23 Six Nations games. No other side has lost more than 17 consecutive games in Five or Six Nations history.

- France were not flush with possession in the match against England, yet they conceded the fewest metres (224) and clean breaks (6), as well as making the most tackles (182).

- Only England's Maro Itoje (44) hit more rucks in the opening round of this year's Six Nations than France duo Gregory Alldritt (43) and Charles Ollivon (37, level with Peter O'Mahony). Alldritt hit the most defensive rucks of any player (25) and slowed the opposition ball down on 16 occasions at the breakdown.

- France are beginning a Six Nations campaign with two successive home games for the first time since 2016, which also happens to be the last time they began with back-to-back victories.

Gregor Townsend has spoken to Finn Russell and informed the player he will reassess his place in Scotland's squad after the Calcutta Cup clash against England.

Fly-half Russell was omitted for Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland, which they lost 19-12, after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol". He was also not considered for the clash with Eddie Jones' men, which takes place on Saturday.

Adam Hastings will start at 10 in Edinburgh in place of Russell, who had a disagreement with head coach Townsend after last year's dramatic 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham.

Scotland have a two-week break coming up before facing Italy in Rome and Russell's place in the squad will be discussed before that fixture.

"I spoke to [Russell] on Sunday night to let him know we wouldn't be making any changes to the squad and that I would reassess after this weekend's game," Townsend told a news conference.

When asked if the chat was positive, Townsend replied: "It was a conversation. It was to tell him he wasn't in the squad for this week and we would look at things next week."

Townsend was reluctant to discuss what Russell will have to do to be considered but says there is a chance he will be involved in the remaining rounds of the tournament.

"I'd rather not discuss that here. We've got a big game at the weekend and I want to be talking about the 23 that will be involved in that game," Townsend said.

"Of course [he could feature in the tournament], just as there's a chance Sam Skinner, Matt Fagerson, guys that have been injured, are back available to us in the next couple of weeks."

 

 

 

 

Gregor Townsend has spoken to Finn Russell and informed the player he will reassess his place in Scotland's squad after the Calcutta Cup clash against England.

Fly-half Russell was omitted for Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland, which they lost 19-12, after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol". He was also not considered for the clash with Eddie Jones' men, which takes place on Saturday.

Adam Hastings will start at 10 in Edinburgh in place of Russell, who had a disagreement with head coach Townsend after last year's dramatic 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham.

Scotland have a two-week break coming up before facing Italy in Rome and Russell's place in the squad will be discussed before that fixture.

"I spoke to [Russell] on Sunday night to let him know we wouldn't be making any changes to the squad and that I would reassess after this weekend's game," Townsend told a news conference.

When asked if the chat was positive, Townsend replied: "It was a conversation. It was to tell him he wasn't in the squad for this week and we would look at things next week."

Townsend was reluctant to discuss what Russell will have to do to be considered but says there is a chance he will be involved in the remaining rounds of the tournament.

"I'd rather not discuss that here. We've got a big game at the weekend and I want to be talking about the 23 that will be involved in that game," Townsend said.

"Of course [he could feature in the tournament], just as there's a chance Sam Skinner, Matt Fagerson, guys that have been injured, are back available to us in the next couple of weeks."

 

 

 

 

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