Wales head coach Wayne Pivac hailed captain Alun Wyn Jones as the "ultimate professional" ahead of his record-equalling cap in this weekend's clash with Scotland.

Jones has been named in Wales' team for Saturday's Six Nations game in Cardiff, which is set to go ahead as planned despite the competition's other two matches being postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The 34-year-old will match New Zealand icon Richie McCaw's tally of 148 Tests when running out at the Principality Stadium, nine of those coming for the British and Irish Lions.

And Pivac has paid tribute to influential skipper Jones, who made his Wales debut against Argentina almost 14 years ago.

"You just need to speak to anybody he plays against and they'll tell you what it's like to play against him," Pivac said at a news conference on Thursday.

"They hold him in high regard. I've seen first-hand what Alun Wyn does, not only on the field but in terms of training and our environment, in terms of his leadership off the field. 

"What he does is just huge. At training, the whistle blows and we'll shift from one drill to another and he's up and sprinting, the first guy there every single time.

"Then you see in a game, when he gets up off the ground, he's gone. He's the ultimate professional. 

"Every country will have someone who they will say is the ultimate professional, and in Wales, he is that guy.

"Equalling the record will be a proud moment for him and, all being well, he'll break that record and that will be an even prouder moment."

Jones will be joined in the second row by Cory Hill for Wales' concluding Six Nations fixture, as Pivac makes four changes from the 33-30 defeat to England last weekend.

Uncapped Sale Sharks prop WillGriff John and fellow front-rower Wyn Jones are also included, while scrum-half Rhys Webb will make his first Wales start since November 2017.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV.

Stuart McInally and Magnus Bradbury have been brought into the side following last week's 28-17 win over France, while Sam Skinner will make his first start of the campaign.

"Wales are the Six Nations champions and came very close to making a World Cup final," Townsend told reporters.

"Are we underdogs? I would have thought so. We're ranked below them in the world rankings and have not won there for a long time.

"The players want to carry on the good work we've been doing and also go to a place where they have never won before and play our best game of the season."

 

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain), Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson; Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, Willem Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Duncan Weir, Kyle Steyn.

The coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Tuesday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while games taking place in empty arenas will become a regular sight in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

In France, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games will be played behind closed doors until April 15. France's minister for sport Roxana Maracineanu had on Monday said games could be played with a limit of 1,000 fans, but the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Tuesday that no fans will be permitted. Earlier, Maracineanu called for fans to show "responsibility" and avoid "any damaging impact on public order" when Paris Saint-Germain play Borussia Dortmund behind closed doors in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The friendly between Germany and Italy, set to take place on March 31 in Nuremberg, will now be played behind closed doors, the German Football Association (DFB) confirmed. Additionally, there will be no fans at the Bundesliga game between Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin on March 14.

Also in Germany, the rearranged Bundesliga match between rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was originally cancelled due to Storm Ciara, will now be played behind closed doors on Wednesday.

Gladbach CEO Stephan Schippers expressed his concern at a news conference, saying: "From a commercial perspective, you can't plan for something like this. 

"We will lose €2million per game. We have insurance against games that are called off, but not if they are played behind closed doors. That will hurt all clubs, including Borussia, financially.

"Fans have the right to be reimbursed. The settlement process will be discussed, but for now we need to see if more games will also follow. In that sense, we will find the right solution."

All sporting activity in Italy is suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions. Following that, it was confirmed the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Napoli at Camp Nou on March 18 will go ahead behind closed doors. The Italian club insisted reports claiming they wanted the match to be postponed were "fake news".

The PGA of America and PGA Tour have rejected suggestions the US PGA Championship, which is to be held from May 14-17 at TPC Harding Park, could be moved from San Francisco after this week's tennis tournaments in Indian Wells were cancelled. 

"They [PGA of America officials] are fully planning on proceeding with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco," PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said. "There is no plan at this point in time for the PGA Championship to be held here. It's going to be held at TPC Harding Park."

However, the MotoGP Grand Prix of the Americas, which was scheduled for April 3-5 in Austin, is postponed and will instead take place in November.

In the first indication that coronavirus could impact the NCAA men's basketball tournament, also known as March Madness, in the United States, the Ivy League announced its postseason tournament is cancelled. Yale have been declared Ivy League champions and will represent it in March Madness.

Wales will follow the advice of Italian authorities on whether Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey will be allowed to leave the country to take part in their home matches with Austria and USA later this month, amid the lockdown on travel in Italy.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport released a statement insisting there was "no rationale" to postponing sporting events at this stage in the United Kingdom. Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said the message sporting authorities had received from the government was "let's not panic".

Matches in Poland's top flight, the Ekstraklasa, will be played without supporters until further notice. The Europa League final is scheduled to be played in Gdansk on May 27.

Ticket sales for Northern Ireland's away Euro 2020 play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 26 have been suspended amid fears over the outbreak.

The Euro 2020 play-off match between the Republic of Ireland and Slovakia in Bratislava on March 26 will be played with no fans present on the instruction of the Slovakian government, with all supporters who bought tickets to be refunded.

The owner of Greek side Olympiacos and Championship club Nottingham Forest, Evangelos Marinakis, has confirmed he has contracted COVID-19. He wrote on Instagram: "The virus has 'visited' me and I felt obliged to let the public know. I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and I discipline to the doctors' instructions."

The coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Tuesday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while games taking place in empty arenas will become a regular sight in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

In Germany, the rearranged Bundesliga match between rivals Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was originally cancelled due to Storm Ciara, will now be played behind closed doors on Wednesday.

All sporting activity in Italy is suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee, in a decision pending government ratification made on Monday. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions. Following that, it was confirmed the Champions League clash between Barcelona and Napoli on March 18 will go ahead behind closed doors. The Italian club insisted reports claiming they wanted the match to be postponed were "fake news".

Wales will follow the advice of Italian authorities on whether Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey will be allowed to leave the country to take part in their home matches with Austria and the United States later this month, amid the lockdown on travel in Italy.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport released a statement insisting there was "no rationale" to postponing sporting events at this stage in the United Kingdom. Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney said the message sporting authorities had received from the government was "let's not panic".

Former Manchester United captain, Salford City co-owner and influential pundit Gary Neville has declared he is not in support of matches behind closed doors. "If it's necessary to shut down stadiums the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive," he tweeted.

Matches in Poland's top flight, the Ekstraklasa, will be played without supporters until further notice. The Europa League final is scheduled to be played in Gdansk on May 27.

Ticket sales for Northern Ireland's away Euro 2020 play-off match against Bosnia-Herzegovina on March 26 have been suspended amid fears over the outbreak.

The owner of Championship club Nottingham Forest, Evangelos Marinakis, has confirmed he has contracted COVID-19. He wrote on Instagram: "The virus has 'visited' me and I felt obliged to let the public know. I feel good as I take all the necessary measures and I discipline to the doctors' instructions."

England pair Joe Marler and Courtney Lawes have been cited for incidents in England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales.

Prop Marler appeared to grasp the genitals of Alun Wyn Jones in the first half at Twickenham, leading the Wales captain to call on World Rugby to examine the footage.

The 29-year-old has been accused of an alleged infringement of law 9.27, which states that "a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship – hair pulling or grabbing; Spitting at anyone; Grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals (and/or breasts in the case of female players)".

Lawes is also facing possible sanctions for a high tackle, also on Jones, in the second half.

The players face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday along with Manu Tuilagi, who was given a red card for a challenge on George North.

England's victory, coupled with France's defeat to Scotland, leaves Eddie Jones' side top of the standings with one match to play.

That game against Italy, scheduled for March 14 in Rome, has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Michael O'Neill said it was "devastating" to hear that Stoke City midfielder Joe Allen will miss Wales' Euro 2020 campaign due to injury.

Allen ruptured an Achilles tendon during the first half of Saturday's 5-1 Championship thrashing of Hull City at the bet365 Stadium.

The 29-year-old will sit out the rest of the domestic season and will be unavailable to Ryan Giggs as Wales attempt to emulate their achievements of four years ago, when they reached the semi-finals in France.

"It's devastating for us and devastating for the boy. Not only will he miss the rest of the season but obviously miss Euro 2020 as well," O'Neill said via Stoke's website.

"He's a great lad and when you're a coach and a manager you want the good lads to get the rewards and do well in the game. Joe's a low-maintenance player but a high-output player.

"I know what it means for him to play for Wales and obviously we [Northern Ireland] played them in 2016 as well and he had a fantastic tournament then. I'm sure he would have been looking forward to the finals and a chance for him to show again that he's a top, top international player, which he's proven to be in the past. It's taken a bit of the shine away for me.

"I kind of feel like I did when Chris Brunt got injured before Euro 2016 and missed it. These things don't come around often in players' careers so when it's taken away from them cruelly with injury it's not very nice."

Alun Wyn Jones is hopeful World Rugby will investigate an incident in which England's Joe Marler appeared to grab the Wales captain's genitals during Saturday's Six Nations match.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham, but there were a number of flashpoints in a clash that ended with the hosts down to 13 men after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and Marler.

Television pictures caught Marler apparently grabbing Jones' crotch, prompting a bemused expression from the Wales veteran but no action.

"I've got 138 Tests for my country," Jones told a post-match news conference. "If I react, I get a red card. It's tough, isn't it?

"Hopefully World Rugby have a look at it. Joe's a good bloke, lots of things happen on a rugby field.

"It's difficult as a captain these days because you can't speak to a ref about anything, it feels. I look at the touch judge. Obviously he didn't see what happened, and that's fine.

"There's a lot of footage that has been shown. It seems like a lot of supporters saw what happened.

"It's very frustrating that we talk a lot about TMOs and footage reviews, yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of it happening."

World Rugby's laws state the punishment for "grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" starts at 12 weeks.

Manu Tuilagi's late red card to leave England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales briefly in the balance was not deserved, according to head coach Eddie Jones.

The World Cup finalists played some blistering rugby, with tries from the returning Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Tuilagi their reward.

However, frequent moments of indiscipline from the hosts helped to keep Wales in a captivating Twickenham contest and late scores from Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar came after Ellis Genge was sin-binned and Tuilagi saw red.

The centre's dismissal came after he struck George North's head with his shoulder – a failure to wrap his arms on the winger sealing his fate after a TMO review.

"We were expecting a tough test right to the end and we got it, but when you get 13 against 16, it's pretty hard," Jones said, as quoted by BBC Sport, after his team's Triple Crown-sealing victory.

"We've moved on as a team. You look at the Six Nations, we had a slow start, because as I've explained, I didn't prepare the team very well, and since then we've been very good.

"We played well in Scotland in poor conditions, brilliantly in the first 40 minutes against Ireland and then a tough display against a good Welsh team."

Nevertheless, amid this satisfaction, Jones was unable to let his gripes with referee Ben O'Keeffe lie.

"We trained on Wednesday ... the whole session was 13 v 16, so we had some practice - we thought it might happen," he said.

"Is that a red card all the time? Well, it's not. It's not refereed like that, but it was today. We've got to take that on board, but how else do you stop the player?"

Frustration was not solely the preserve of the England camp, with Wales boss Wayne Pivac accusing his team of being complicit in their own downfall.

"It was a game that we're disappointed not to come out on top in," he told ITV after a third defeat from four in the tournament for the reigning champions.

"We gave England a good start, we played a bit too much rugby and they were good enough to capitalise on our mistakes. After half-time, we started the way we wanted to, but we let England back in again.

"We're our own worst enemies at the minute. We're working hard behind the scenes to get it right over the 80 minutes, and I think we're heading in the right direction. We're contributing to the result in terms of too many errors. Next week is a massive opportunity to go out and try to rectify that.

"There are times you can see what we're trying to do. In the second half, there were some good attacking raids with multiple phases when we put England under pressure. If we can do that for longer periods in games, and get our game management a little bit better, we'll be in a pretty good space."

Following pre-match consternation over the fitness of Wales fly-half Dan Biggar – head coach Wayne Pivac and assistant Sam Warburton having offered mixed messages with regards to his knee complaint – Tom Curry and Manu Tuilagi decided to seek their own diagnosis.

Biggar gathered Ben Youngs' teasing kick in the second minute, only to see a white-clad freight train hurtling towards him.

Curry, as was generally the case on a full-throated late afternoon in London, got there first, splattering Wales' number 10, with Tuilagi alongside to provided added, if largely unnecessary, muscle.

England's expert meshing of brains and brawn set them apart in the opening exchanges – Maro Itoje striding imperiously through the midfield before soaring to collect the subsequent line-out. Wales were drawn in, Curry did not miss a beat with the reverse pass and the returning Anthony Watson darted over for the first try.

There were plenty more instances where this undulating 33-30 win for Eddie Jones' men looked exactly as you might expect – one side tweaking and seeking to progress again having fallen agonisingly short of their World Cup goal, with their visitors in the early and often fumbling throes of transition.

Particularly in their defensive set-piece work, Pivac's men appeared a team breaking in uncomfortably new shoes; the glorious dances of a dozen years under Warren Gatland already feeling consigned to a fading era.

Wales' chances invariably came when an England team in a rush trod on their own jet heels.

This was never more evident than in the back-to-back passages of play that saw a swaggering 20-6 lead collapse to 20-16 either side of half-time.

Despite the clock having already ticked past 40, England sought to fizz the ball through hands on halfway where Tuilagi erred and Itoje was pinged for a high tackle on Biggar. Equilibrium long restored from that early pasting, he bisected the posts.

Then, 27 seconds and a lackadaisical restart later, Twickenham was aghast as Justin Tipuric gleefully scampered over.

Now was the time for Wales to open up some old wounds. England led 10-3 at half-time in this fixture a year ago, before unravelling and losing 21-13 in a fug of antagonised indiscipline.

If captain Owen Farrell intended to help his men turn over a new leaf, scrapping with George North and putting in a high tackle on Josh Navidi for Leigh Halfpenny to slot a pair of first-half penalties did not exactly amount to leading by example.

But from the tee, Farrell was typically unerring with six from six, and his combination with George Ford for Elliot Daly's 32nd-minute score meant Joe Marler's peculiar method of introducing himself to Alun Wyn Jones was arguably not England's most notable ball-in-hand moment of the match.

Those flashes of finely grooved, frictionless quality are the preserve of teams perfectly in sync with their wider strategies. Pivac's Wales cannot expect to be at that stage of realisation, although their unflinching spirit until the last bodes well for the journey ahead.

Tuilagi went over for another glorious try after more brilliant work from Youngs and Ford, although the bulldozing centre underlined England's remaining appetite for self-destruction with a late red card tackle on North. Biggar and Tipuric's late tries consequently came against 13-man opposition, given Ellis Genge was already ensconced in the sin bin.

Triple Crown secured, Eddie Jones' England don't look likely to stop playing on the edge any time soon, where the falls can be needlessly damaging but the views are often indisputably spectacular.

Alun Wyn Jones revealed frustrations with Wales' first-half sloppiness after they succumbed to England on Saturday, suffering a third straight Six Nations defeat.

Grand Slam champions in 2019, Wales have endured a disappointing campaign this year despite crushing strugglers Italy in their opening match.

Defeats to Ireland, France and now England put paid to any hopes of defending their title, and captain Jones was particularly exasperated by his side's latest reverse.

Wales went down 33-30 at Twickenham, but only late tries against 13 men narrowed England's lead after Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Manu Tuilagi - later dismissed - crossed for the hosts.

Jones suggested Wales were always struggling to recover from an opening period in which Watson scored inside four minutes and Daly added to the home advantage.

He also highlighted the repeated penalties that allowed Owen Farrell and George Ford to keep the scoreboard ticking over for England.

"I was lamenting a couple of territory giveaways in the first half," the Wales captain told ITV Sport. "We gave them two possessions in the 22, went to two lineouts, and it was two tries.

"You're chasing the game a little bit. Then we got the three to stay on the scoreboard at the end of the half and then a great riposte at the start of the second half.

"Unfortunately, they obviously capitalised on a couple of our indisciplines in our 22 and kept the scoreboard at bay.

"It shows what we can do with those last two tries. If we keep the ball, we can score. It's just too little, too late, in the end."

However, England star Ben Youngs paid tribute to Wales as they refused to give up on a seemingly lost cause.

"Whenever we started to feel like we got ascendancy or control, Wales are so good at just staying in the fight, and they stayed in and battled hard," Youngs said.

"Our discipline probably just gave them easy leg-ups. They're clinical enough to punish you and it showed in the last 20 minutes, where we were basically camped in our own 22 and couldn't get out. It was tight in the end."

The returning Anthony Watson set England on their way to a 33-30 win at home to Wales that keeps their Six Nations title challenge on track.

With Grand Slam contenders France not in action against Scotland until Sunday, Eddie Jones' England piled on the pressure with a hard-fought triumph at Twickenham.

The hosts were boosted by the inclusion of wing Watson in the XV for the first time in the tournament, and he got the first of three England tries.

Elliot Daly crossed later in the first half and, after Justin Tipuric raced through for Wales at the start of the second period, Manu Tuilagi secured a third win in four matches for England before being sent off with five minutes remaining. Dan Biggar and Tipuric grabbed consolation tries for Wales in the closing moments, earning them a losing bonus point.

It took Watson less than four minutes to make his mark, dancing through a pair of tackles after a smart move from a lineout on the right to score the opening points.

An eventful start continued as Jonny May departed with a head injury before a scuffle broke out in front of the England try line, prompting a penalty against Owen Farrell that Leigh Halfpenny dispatched over the posts.

Farrell and Halfpenny traded further successful trips to the kicking tee as the match settled slightly, but a spell of England pressure resulted in their second try after 32 minutes as the hosts worked the ball from right to left and Daly steamed up the outside to lunge over.

Another Farrell penalty stretched England's lead again, only for some sloppy play to allow Biggar to boot a response heading into half-time.

And Wales came out for the restart with renewed vigour, scoring inside 30 seconds through a stunning counter that sent Tipuric clear under the posts.

But England continued to forge opportunities for their kickers, with Farrell adding three more points before George Ford assumed the responsibilities - his captain struggling with a dead leg - and followed suit.

Successive scores seemed to dampen Wales' spirits, and a patient England move made space for Tuilagi to walk in on the left.

A slew of late penalties against England resulted in a yellow card for Ellis Genge, and Tuilagi departed for a shoulder charge to George North's head.

That allowed first Biggar and then Tipuric to score against 13 scrambling white shirts, but the late tries proved only enough to rescue the bonus point.


Watson wastes little time

England had been shorn of their star wing since the Rugby World Cup final, and Watson made sure to quickly show Jones just what he had been missing. His 18th international try combined skill, speed and strength in impressive fashion from the first notable attack of the match.

Captain Farrell unflappable

This was a niggly game, best evidenced by the clash Farrell became involved in early on, but England made the most of each Welsh foul. Farrell's kicking from various ranges was typically clinical, taking the match away from Wales each time they threatened a recovery.

What's next?

England must wait to learn when they might fulfil their final fixture against Italy, who have seen consecutive matches postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Wales complete their disappointing campaign at home to Scotland next Saturday.

Former Wales centre Matthew J Watkins has died at the age of 41, the Welsh Rugby Union has announced.

Watkins, who won 18 caps for his country, was diagnosed with pelvic cancer in 2013. The disease later spread to his head, Watkins revealed in January.

He began his career as a teenager with hometown club Newport, before moving on to Llanelli, becoming part of the Scarlets side in the early years of regional rugby in Wales.

Spells with Gloucester and the Dragons followed before Watkins retired in 2011. His first Wales cap came in 2003, against Italy.

The national team will wear black armbands against England in Saturday's Six Nations match in memory of Watkins.

The Scarlets said they were "deeply saddened" by news of Watkins' death, describing him as "a silky-skilled, creative midfielder, who was a hugely popular figure among our supporters, the playing squad and staff".

Expressing similar sorrow, the Dragons said Watkins, who raised many thousands of pounds for cancer charities, would "be missed by so many".

Eddie Jones has warned Wales his England team "owe them one" after a 2019 Six Nations defeat that still irks him.

England were beaten 21-13 in Cardiff last year and Wales went on to win a Grand Slam.

Jones' side have the chance to atone for that loss at Twickenham on Saturday, with the head coach quick to remind his players about the opportunity they let slip in last year's tournament.

"You have got to remember we owe them one – you never like to lose to Wales, and we lost last year," he said.

"We were in position [leading] at half-time and we have learned from that. That was one of the key games that got us in our best condition for the World Cup.

"But it is still a game that I'm sure irks every England player who played in it. It certainly irks me."

England have recovered from their opening matchday loss to France with victories over Scotland and Ireland.

Jones insists he has not needed to mention the prospect of a Triple Crown to motivate his players and is thrilled with how his squad has come on during the Six Nations.

He added: "No, not at all, The only motivation is beating Wales. That is motivation enough.

"We have probably just had our best training run of the Six Nations. We have gone up another level.

"We are not far underneath where we were at the World Cup now in terms of physical condition and in terms of the intensity we can potentially play with.

"It has always been the goal to peak for this week. This was always going to be the crux game of the Six Nations for us so we deliberately had quite a slow build-up to it so we are at our best this week."

But Jones warned: "Wales were very unlucky to be beaten by France – all the stats from that game indicate they should have won it so we are going to be playing a very, very tough team.

"Wales are a well-coached team, we know they have lost their last two matches so they will come hard at us. They are always tough affairs that go down to the wire."

Scotland go in search of another Murrayfield triumph over Grand Slam hopefuls France this weekend, and England will look to put the pressure on the Six Nations leaders with a win over Wales.

The postponement of Ireland's encounter with Italy due to concerns over the coronavirus leaves just two round-four matches to look forward to.

France passed a big test in their bid to be crowned champions for the first time in a decade when they beat Wales last time out, and now Scotland, buoyed by a win over Italy, will be the next side to try and burst Les Bleus' bubble.

England are four points behind Fabien Galthie's side after a defeat of Ireland at Twickenham and will have home advantage again when they take on the defending champions.

With Opta data, we preview the clashes in London on Saturday and Edinburgh.

England v Wales

- England have won five of their last six games against Wales in the Six Nations, the one defeat coming last year.

- The Red Rose have lost just one of their last 20 home games in the competition (against Ireland in 2018 - W18, D1) and their 18 wins in that time have been by an average margin of 17 points.

- Wales have lost back-to-back matches and have not endured a longer run of defeats in the championship since a five-game drought across the 2006 and 2007 campaigns.

- Wales prop Dillon Lewis has hit more rucks (107) than any other player at the 2020 Six Nations. Maro Itoje (103) is second on the list and the England player has also hit more attacking rucks (85) than anyone else.

Scotland v France

-  Scotland have won each of their last two home games against France in the Six Nations, but Les Bleus have won 17 of their last 20 encounters with the Scots in the championship.

- Galthie and Gregor Townsend faced off against each four times in their international playing careers, with the present France head coach coming out on top on each occasion.

- France are the only side to maintain a 100 per cent scrum success rate on their own feed (10/10) in the Six Nations and have the best gain-line success rate of any side (48 per cent).

- Scotland have missed just 46 tackles in the Six Nations this year, the fewest of any side, and subsequently have the best tackle success rate (90 per cent).

Wayne Pivac believes a step up in intensity in training has him sure his Wales side will come up with the goods in their Six Nations clash with England.

Wales have lost their last two Tests, going down to Ireland and France respectively heading into Saturday's contest at Twickenham, where they have not won in eight years.

However, Pivac has sensed a change in mentality from his side during their recent training sessions, with the coach signalling out captain Alun Wyn Jones as the epitome of this shift to a more intense approach.

"The level of intensity has noticeably gone up in training, certainly in the live stuff and it has been no holds barred," Pivac, who replaced Warren Gatland after the Rugby World Cup, told reporters.

"No one has been holding back. That tells me a big performance is coming.

"You've only got to listen to Alun Wyn during the week. The intensity is there in his voice and everything he's done in training. He's led from the front."

Saturday's game will be the first time Pivac has gone up against England as a coach, though he does not think Eddie Jones' team will hold many surprises for his side.

"With my background coming from New Zealand we look at England like the Welsh do," said Pivac.

"They're a strong team, one of the world leaders, and a very capable team as we saw at the World Cup against the All Blacks and last week against Ireland. They put away two of the top teams in the world comfortably.

"There is a healthy respect, but it's a game we're looking forward to. Me included."

Taulupe Faletau has been dropped in one of four changes for Wales' trip to England in a crunch Six Nations clash on Saturday.

Josh Navidi will play at number eight after overcoming a hamstring problem, while the reigning champions welcome back Liam Williams following an ankle injury sustained at the Rugby World Cup, with Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar also returning.

Rob Evans comes into the front-row for his first start since the 2019 competition, with head coach Wayne Pivac excited by the challenge ahead at Twickenham after back-to-back losses against Ireland and France.

"We've had a good two weeks and we are really excited about heading up to Twickenham for what will be a huge Six Nations clash," he said

"We have had the chance to put the disappointments of the loss to France behind us and we know heading to London we need to be more clinical in attack and convert the opportunities that we are creating.

"Liam's return to full fitness is a positive after the loss of Josh [Adams], as is the return of Josh Navidi.

"We have been targeting this game for both of their returns and they have trained really well, so it's a great opportunity for them on Saturday."

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams, Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Aaron Shingler, Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Webb, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl 

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