Mako Vunipola has been cleared to play for Saracens this weekend despite having been stood down by England on "medical grounds".

The powerhouse prop was said to have been in self-isolation as a precaution against the coronavirus, having briefly travelled through Hong Kong en route home from a trip to visit family in Tonga.

However, Sarries insisted Mako and his brother Billy have not been subjected to self-quarantine and neither showed any symptoms linked to the coronavirus.

As such, Mako is available for selection when Sarries face Leicester Tigers in the Premiership on Saturday despite having been ruled out of England's game against Wales.

"Billy Vunipola and Mako Vunipola returned to Saracens after visiting family in Tonga, which included a short stop at Hong Kong Airport," a Sarries statement read.

"Travellers returning from Hong Kong are not currently subject to mandatory quarantine or self-isolation unless they become symptomatic.

"Neither Billy or Mako have displayed symptoms of the coronavirus (Covid-19) and on their return to London were assessed by the club's medical staff.

"The duo have been around the Saracens environment for the past couple of days, with the latter available for selection this weekend.

"Saracens will continue to follow the Public Health England and World Health Organisation regulations surrounding coronavirus and the medical staff will be closely monitoring Billy and Mako on a regular basis."

Mako, who missed England's win over Ireland due to his visit to Tonga, was included in an initial training squad ahead of the crunch Twickenham encounter against Wales by head coach Eddie Jones.

However, on Tuesday an RFU spokesperson said: "Mako is not in camp on medical grounds. He is not sick but it is a precaution."

Wales are hopeful Dan Biggar will be fit to face England in the Six Nations on Saturday and Liam Williams is set to make his first appearance of the tournament.

Biggar suffered a knee injury during Northampton Saints' Premiership defeat to Saracens last weekend.

The fly-half is on course to play at Twickenham, though, as the defending champions attempt to stop the rot after back-to-back defeats at the hands of Ireland and France.

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton, working as a breakdown specialist in Wayne Pivac's set-up, said of Biggar: "He's looking good.

"The initial signs are positive. He doesn't need a scan. It puts our team selection on hold for a while because we have to wait to see how he turns up tomorrow.

"He's going to train and do stuff with the physios. But everyday so far, the feedback from the physios has been good, he's had a really good response to the stages of physio.

"He's ticking all the boxes he needs to. He's on a good course so, hopefully, with no hiccups, we'll have some good news. There are no guarantees but we're confident at this stage.

"There's a hurdle every day, the training becomes gradually more intense and will climax towards the end of the week. So if he can pass that, then all good. We're taking it day by day but the first two days have been all good.

"I don't know to be honest but I think we'll have a conclusive answer by Friday morning."

Williams has not played since suffering an ankle injury at the Rugby World Cup, but the full-back is poised to face the Red Rose.

Warburton said: "He’s back in full training. He will hopefully be in contention to start.

"This is the sort of cauldron he would love to be thrown into. It will be great to have some big game players back."

Wing Hallam Amos will definitely not feature after he was ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a knee injury.

Mako Vunipola's absence for England's Six Nations clash against Wales is because he is in self-isolation as a precaution against the coronavirus, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has confirmed.

The powerhouse prop was named in a 34-man squad for the Twickenham encounter but was ruled out by forwards coach Matt Proudfoot on "medical reasons" on Wednesday.

It was later confirmed Vunipola did not come into camp as he travelled back from Tonga via Hong Kong at the weekend.

An RFU spokesperson said: "Mako is not in camp on medical grounds. He is not sick but it is a precaution."

Vunipola was missing from England's superb victory over Ireland last time out as he travelled to Tonga for family reasons.

Travellers who have been in areas where the coronavirus has been prevalent have been advised to self-isolate, meaning Vunipola may also be a doubt for England's Six Nations sign-off against Italy on March 14.

Six Nations organisers said this week the intention is for all fixtures to be completed, with Ireland's Dublin contest against Italy, which was due to take place this weekend, having been postponed.

Mako Vunipola is unavailable for England 's crunch Six Nations clash against Wales, who have confirmed Hallam Amos could miss the rest of the season.

Saracens prop Vunipola was absent for England's win over Ireland last time out as he was in Tonga for family reasons.

While Vunipola was named in a 34-man squad on Monday to prepare for Wales at Twickenham, he will not now be involved in the fixture due to a medical problem.

Speaking to Sky Sports, England's forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said: "He's not with us due to medical reasons.

"I won't say injury, it's medical reasons, yeah [he's unavailable]."

Wales, meanwhile, confirmed Amos is to undergo surgery on a knee injury sustained playing in Cardiff Blues' Pro14 victory over Benetton Treviso on February 23.

A Welsh Rugby Union statement revealed it is expected that the wing will also miss the remainder of the campaign.

Six Nations organisers say all remaining fixtures in the tournament will go ahead but the situation will continue to be monitored amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The round-four clash between Ireland and Italy in Dublin, due to be played this weekend, was postponed last Wednesday in the interest of public health, but the match is due to be rearranged.

No further games have been cancelled following a Six Nations meeting in Paris on Monday.

England's final-weekend trip to Rome to face Italy is schedule to go ahead as planned, but the women's and Under-20 showdowns in Padua and Verona respectively may be relocated.

A Six Nations statement said: "The Six Nations met today in Paris to address the current situation regarding the Covid-19 Virus.

"Six Nations and its six unions and federations are following the situation very closely with their respective governments and relevant health authorities and will strictly follow any directive given that would impact sporting events.

"As it stands today, based on the latest information, all Six Nations matches currently scheduled are set to go ahead.  

"Six Nations is in contact with FIR and RFU regarding the possibility of relocating the Women's and U20 Italy vs England matches to another Italian location and we will make a further announcement on this in due course.

"However, the Italy vs England Senior Men's match in Rome is planned to go ahead as scheduled.

"Six Nations intends to complete all 15 games across all three championships when time allows but we will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements for the time being while we keep assessing the situation."

Mako Vunipola has returned to the England squad for Saturday's crucial Six Nations clash with Wales.

The prop had not been expected to be part of Eddie Jones' squad for the Twickenham encounter, having missed England's win over Ireland after travelling to Tonga to visit a seriously ill relative.

However, he is included in Jones' 34-man party as England begin preparations for the visit of Wayne Pivac's team.

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Jack Maunder has been selected, giving Jones a third option at number nine behind Ben Youngs and Will Heinz, while wing Anthony Watson and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie were also named in the squad.

England bounced back from their opening-round defeat to France with victories over Scotland and Ireland.

They trail leaders France - who face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday - by four points and know defeat to Wales could spell the end of their hopes of regaining the Six Nations title.

Finn Russell has not been named in Scotland's squad for their two remaining Six Nations games but talks have been held with a view to the outcast fly-half touring South Africa and New Zealand.

The Racing 92 playmaker has played no part in the Six Nations after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol" ahead of the opening match against Ireland in Dublin.

It appeared there would be no way back for Russell under Gregor Townsend after he told the Sunday Times there would need to be "big changes" for him to resume his Scotland career, taking a dig at the head coach's style and man-management.

Townsend responded last month by questioning the number 10's commitment to playing for his country, with Russell also have stated the pair have "no relationship".

However, a week before Scotland face leaders France at Murrayfield, Scottish Rugby revealed there has been dialogue, raising the prospect of Russell facing world champions the Springboks and the All Blacks in July. 

"While not named in the squad, positive discussions have taken place with stand-off Finn Russell, with the goal of these being continued over the next few weeks in order for him to be involved in the forthcoming Summer Tests," Scottish Rugby tweeted.

Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael was added to the squad to take on Les Bleus and Wales as a replacement for Cornell du Preez, while wing Darcy Graham (knee) will play no part in the tournament.

Ireland's Six Nations clash with Italy in Dublin has been called off amid fears over the spread of the Coronavirus.

Andy Farrell's side had been due to host Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday March 7 in their penultimate game of the tournament.

However, the outbreak of the virus in northern Italy had led to calls for the game to be postponed.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) met with the country's minister for health, Simon Harris, on Tuesday and it was determined the game should not go ahead.

The matches in the Women's Six Nations and the Under-20 Six Nations have also been postponed.

An IRFU statement read: "The IRFU had a positive meeting with Minister Harris and his advisors today, where we requested a formal instruction as to the staging of the Ireland v Italy international matches over the weekend of 6/8 March.

"At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the Governments' need to protect public health in relation to the Coronavirus.

"We were then advised, formally, that The National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health.

"The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.

"We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days."

Last weekend saw four football matches in Serie A postponed, including Inter's clash with Sampdoria as part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in Italy.

Inter's Europa League meeting with Ludogorets will be contested behind closed doors on Thursday.

Additionally, this weekend's scheduled Pro14 rugby games between Parma-based club Zebre and Ospreys and Benetton Treviso and Ulster will not go ahead.

Ireland suffered their first defeat of the tournament as they were beaten 24-12 by England at Twickenham last Sunday. 

They are four points behind leaders France in the table. Italy have lost each of their three games and appear destined for another wooden spoon.

Anthony Watson could feature for England for the first time in the 2020 Six Nations after he was named in Eddie Jones' squad for their training camp ahead of next week's clash with Wales.

Watson is yet to appear in this year's championship due to a calf injury, but head coach Jones suggested after the victory over Ireland that the wing could soon return.

"Anthony's got to do a running session and if he gets through that we'll get him into camp," Jones said.

And Watson was subsequently included in a 25-man selection on Wednesday as England reconvene for three days of training in Oxford.

Mark Wilson has likewise been recalled, while George Furbank is involved for rehabilitation purposes after missing the Ireland game, as apprentice Alex Mitchell also links up.

However, both Mako Vunipola and Luke Cowan-Dickie were not selected due to family reasons.

Vunipola had travelled to Tonga ahead of Sunday's clash with Ireland and was not expected back in time to face Wales.

Cowan-Dickie, who scored England's third try in the 24-12 Twickenham success, had been absent previously in the campaign as his girlfriend gave birth to their son seven weeks early.

England are still in the mix for the Six Nations title, although they trail Grand Slam-chasing France by four points after three games.

Ireland prop Cian Healy will play no further part in the Six Nations due to a hip injury.

The Leinster stalwart was withdrawn after suffering the blow during a 24-12 defeat to England at Twickenham on Sunday

Healy has been ruled out of the clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium on March 7 and will not face leaders France in Paris on the final day of the tournament.

Pro14 champions Leinster will be hoping the 32-year-old is available for a European Champions Cup quarter-final against holders Saracens in Dublin on April 4.

Healy will have to wait to bring up a century of caps, with his appearance against England taking him to 98.

Will Connors, Max Deegan, Chris Farrell, David Kearney, Luke McGrath and Jack O'Donoghue were on Tuesday released from international duty to play for their provinces this weekend.

Defeat to the Rugby World Cup runners-up last weekend ended Ireland's hopes of winning a Grand Slam and leaves them level with England, four points adrift of leaders France.

 

Wales have confirmed Josh Adams will need surgery on the ankle injury he suffered against France, ruling the wing out for the rest of the Six Nations.

Adams was hurt during the 27-23 defeat at the Principality Stadium on Saturday and was replaced by Jarrod Evans in the 66th minute.

The 24-year-old will undergo surgery to repair the damage this week and is expected to be out for three months, meaning he will miss Wales' remaining two fixtures - against England and Scotland - in March.

In a short statement on their website, the Welsh Rugby Union said it is "envisaged" Adams, who has scored 14 tries in 24 Test appearances, will be back for the latter stages of the Pro14 season with his club, Cardiff Blues.

Head coach Wayne Pivac will now wait for an update on another of his wing options in George North, who failed a head injury assessment during the home loss to Les Bleus.

Pivac has not called up a replacement for Adams ahead of the trip to Twickenham on March 7.

Owen Farrell insists England's rip-roaring start in their Six Nations win over Ireland was not a response to any outside pressure.

England began their campaign with a poor showing in a defeat against France in Paris before grinding out a victory over Scotland amid tough Edinburgh conditions in round two.

Back at Twickenham against an Ireland side who had started with two wins from two, England earned a deserved 24-12 triumph over a visiting team coached by Farrell's father Andy.

Eddie Jones' men had come under scrutiny following a mixed start, while the head coach was initially questioned and subsequently vindicated for his decision to move centre Jonathan Joseph to the wing and continue with flanker Tom Curry at number eight.

"It's pressure from everybody else, not us," England captain Farrell said when asked about the outside voices.

"We're unbelievably happy with how things are in-house. We feel we are getting better and couldn't wait to play this game.

"I think you saw that from the way we started the game. It's nothing to do with anyone on the outside. We are giving ourselves lots of confidence to rip in come kick-off."

England were boosted by the return of powerhouse centre Manu Tuilagi, a player Farrell feels would make a difference to any team in world rugby.

"You don't need me to tell you [how important he is]," Farrell added.

"Any team in the world would want him by your side, we're lucky to have him. He's playing brilliant rugby."

England led 17-0 at the break with George Ford and Elliot Daly the beneficiaries of some shoddy Ireland defending, while Luke Cowan-Dickie touched down from an England drive in the second half.

Part of England's success owed to their dominance of the forwards, with the returning Courtney Lawes earning the man-of-the-match award.

"We knew Ireland were on good form and we came out flying, we put an emphasis on that all week. It was great to get out here with the boys," Lawes said.

"Any chance I get to put on the shirt, especially at my old age, I relish it. We just want to keep building, the goal is to be the best team the world has ever seen."

Andy Farrell shouldered the burden of blame for Ireland's Six Nations loss to England as his side were outplayed at Twickenham on Sunday. 

Ireland's hopes of a Grand Slam, following back-to-back wins over Scotland and Wales, were dashed as Eddie Jones' men ran out deserved 24-12 winners.

The visitors were up against it from the moment George Ford capitalised on Johnny Sexton's error to score the opening try after seven minutes, with the Ireland fly-half enduring a rare off-day.

Sexton's error-strewn display, which included two woefully miscued penalty attempts, summed up Ireland's afternoon as Farrell's charges came up well short.

"Disappointing. I think the scoreline flattered us a little bit," Farrell told BBC Sport after seeing Andrew Porter's last-gasp converted score narrow the gap.

"We started firing a few shots when the game was over and that's not what we want to do.

"I think it was a knock-on effect of cumulative errors. The opposition had something to do with it obviously, they played really well.

"They played like a side that was desperate to stay in the competition, so fair play to England for that. But we'll look at ourselves for the reasons we allowed them to play the game they wanted to play.

"First and foremost, I look at myself. Why were England up for it, winning the physical edge? That's down to myself.

"The reality is the last try at the end allows the points difference not to be too bad and we're in the competition.

"We go into the Italy game knowing what we've got to do. If we perform like we want to in that game we'll take it to the last weekend."

A strangely out of sorts Sexton admitted Ireland had nowhere to hide after a lacklustre showing.

"We gave a very good team two tries from our mistakes, not covering the chip kick, and then we didn't take our chances," he said.

"We were getting the ball on the back foot, trying to get to the edges and we couldn't, looked a bit silly at times.

"We still have a big home game against Italy and if we can do that we still have a championship to play for.

"We need to be a bit better, not play in certain areas of the field when we are going backwards."

England put themselves firmly in the hunt for the Six Nations title and ended Ireland's Grand Slam dream with a 24-12 victory at Twickenham.

Coach Eddie Jones had thrown a curveball with his team selection, in particular the decision to deploy Jonathan Joseph on the wing, but few were left questioning his wisdom at full-time.

With France having beaten reigning champions Wales on Saturday to pile the pressure on both of these teams, it was the hosts – winners over Scotland in atrocious conditions last time out – who responded in style on Sunday to fuel their ambitions.

Ireland coach Andy Farrell will have had his sights set on a clean sweep of victories in the championship after wins over Scotland and Wales, but those hopes were dashed by a team starring his son Owen.

George Ford's early try, facilitated by a Johnny Sexton error that characterised a rare off day for the fly-half, set the tone, with Elliot Daly touching down in not dissimilar circumstances before the break.

Robbie Henshaw darted over in the second half but any prospect of an Ireland comeback was ended when Luke Cowan-Dickie's converted try restored England's advantage, rendering Andrew Porter's stoppage-time score a mere consolation.

England, whose only Six Nations loss at Twickenham in the last 19 matches came against Ireland in 2018, started with remarkable intensity and soon got their reward.

Sexton, who later badly fluffed his lines from a penalty, fumbled from Ben Youngs' grubber kick and Ford was on hand to gather the loose ball and touch down.

Daly was similarly alert to get on the end of Ford's searching kick as Jacob Stockdale was caught off guard, while Owen Farrell added six first-half points with the boot to leave Ireland with a mountain to climb as, in 21 matches between the nations in this competition, no side had ever overcome a half-time deficit to win.

Ireland did prove far more determined after the break and Henshaw broke through the line to cap a prolonged spell of pressure, but Sexton's kick was again wayward.

Sensing the job was not yet done, England attacked with renewed vigour and Cowan-Dickie was the beneficiary of some excellent forward play as he crossed the line and Owen Farrell added the extras, with John Cooney doing likewise after Porter's last-gasp try.

Flying start sets the tone for England

It was a painfully slow start that cost England so badly in the opening defeat to France, but there was no sign of any such complacency on this occasion.

England were up and at Ireland from the first whistle and, after their initial momentum was halted by a fumble from the otherwise outstanding Courtney Lawes, the hosts were quickly on the front foot again, opening the scoring via a combination of the quick-thinking Youngs ​– making his 100th Test appearance – the ever-alert Ford, and the unusually flustered Sexton.

Sorry Sexton human after all

He is one of the very best in world rugby, but that does not mean Sexton is immune to error. He demonstrated that twice in the opening quarter of an hour, which proved a microcosm of the whole contest.

First he treated Youngs' kick through the middle like a hot potato, eventually palming it to the grateful Ford, then he shanked a three-pointer from the tee in a manner quite unbecoming. Another miscue followed in the second half to compound Sexton's woes.

What's next?

England welcome Wales to west London in round four on March 7, while Ireland return to Dublin to host whipping boys Italy on the same day. 

Wayne Pivac was unimpressed with the officiating after Wales suffered a narrow defeat to France that leaves the defending champions with only a slim chance of retaining their Six Nations title.

Romain Ntamack was the star of the show as Les Bleus ended a 10-year wait for a victory in Cardiff, winning a thriller 27-23 on Saturday.

Ntamack scored 17 points in a fly-half masterclass at the Principality Stadium for a France side that have won three out of three this year, putting them on track for a first Six Nations crown in a decade.

However, Wales felt they should have been awarded a penalty try by referee Matthew Carley for what they saw as a deliberate knock-on by Paul Willemse when Ken Owens attempted to set up Josh Adams in the second half.

Head coach Pivac said: "We have had a look at the slap down and I think the officials may have got that one wrong.

"That killed momentum as well."

Pivac was also aggrieved when France were awarded a penalty in a scrum as Wales applied the pressure, with prop Wyn Jones having stated this week he expected Les Bleus to "cheat" when they packed down.

"Another disappointing moment was when the French tighthead [Demba Bamba] came on and went straight across the scrum and was rewarded for that," said the New Zealander.

"Those were the big moments in the game. The scrums, from our point of view, had gone okay up until that point.

"You have got to go with the forward motion but he clearly went across the scrum."

Pivac said wings George North and Adams will be checked over after suffering head and ankle injuries respectively, with Wales having games against England and Scotland in March.

"George will go through the normal protocols for a HIA [head injury assessment]. He was taken off the field for a HIA," Pivac stated.

"Josh Adams had an ankle injury. We will have to check him in the next day or two to see how severe it is."

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