Jack Willis has been included in England's squad for the first time in over a year for Saturday's Six Nations clash with France.

The flanker suffered a serious knee injury against Italy in February last year and only returned to action for Wasps last month.

With Tom Curry ruled out of the contest at Stade de France with a hamstring problem sustained in the 32-15 defeat to Ireland, Willis has a chance of featuring.

Kyle Sinckler was also part of the 34-player squad named by Eddie Jones on Monday and will follow return-to-play protocols after being concussed against Ireland.

England are out of contention for the Six Nations title ahead of their final match of this year's tournament after winning two and losing two of their first four games.

Opponents France are top of the standings as they seek a first title and first Grand Slam since 2010.

England players described their pride even in defeat to Ireland on Saturday after playing more than 78 minutes of the Six Nations match with 14 men.

The Red Rose's championship hopes were ended by the 32-15 reverse at Twickenham – their heaviest ever home Test loss to Ireland – but few fans had any issues with the team's fight and desire.

Charlie Ewels was shown a red card after just a minute and 22 seconds for his dangerous tackle on James Ryan – the earliest dismissal in a Six Nations match – giving England a huge uphill battle.

Eddie Jones' men still might have upset title-chasing Ireland, who were all square at 15-15 heading into the closing stages before taking the match away from their hosts.

Rather than rue their failure to take their championship challenge to Grand Slam candidates France for their fifth and final game, England's battlers preferred to reflect upon a heroic effort.

Hooker Jamie George said: "Right up to that last try, I genuinely had belief, and I think that says a huge amount about the character we have in the squad.

"This sounds ridiculous but it's one of the proudest days I've had in an England shirt. I genuinely feel that. I feel quite emotional from this game and the feedback we had from the crowd.

"Playing a team like Ireland, they're respected as one of the best teams in the world. To play like that with 14 men for 78 minutes takes some doing, and I'm proud to be part of the group."

Full-back Freddie Steward suggested this performance should set the standard for England sides moving forward.

"You come into a game, and you never expect that to happen," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "The boys responded really well.

"It would have been easy for us to lose a man and for heads to drop and them to walk all over us. I think that shows the spirit of this team. We fought, we dug in, the boys gave it everything. There's a lot to learn from that."

Steward added: "We sat in at half-time and we had a genuine belief that we could go and win the game. The boys came out in that second half and wanted to do it, we wanted to do it.

"Unfortunately, on 60, 70 minutes, we ran out of steam at the end there.

"But I think this team is one that is not going to give up. We're not going to not fight, and we went to the trenches for each other today."

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said he was "delighted" with his team's hard-fought Six Nations win against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Chris Harris scored a first-half double as Scotland beat the Azzurri 33-22 in an entertaining encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, recovering from back-to-back defeats at the hands of Wales and France.

The victory not only secured the Cuttitta Trophy but also moved Scotland above Wales into fourth place as the visitors ran in five tries in Italy.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland after the game, Townsend said he was happy with the win, but also reserved praise for Kieran Crowley's team, who scored 22 points for the first time since also doing so against France in 2020's tournament.

"We're delighted with the win, it's been a tough venue for Scottish teams for a number of years," said Townsend.

"I felt we built the victory in the first half and the players played really well up to around the 50-minute mark. After that, we weren't as good. I have to say that's the best I've seen Italy play over the last couple of seasons.

"Maybe we expected them to crack but you have to be accurate and keep the intensity up against all opposition if you want a complete performance. That's a frustration but all credit to Italy, they were the better team in the last quarter of the game.

"It's hard when Italy come at you. I've been there as a player and a coach when we've allowed Italy to get into the game. We didn't do that today. We managed the game really well and executed at times. We just need to do that for 80 minutes."

Scotland have now won each of their past seven matches against Italy in the Six Nations, with six of those seven victories coming by 10 or more points.

Sam Johnson scored the opening try for Scotland before Harris crossed twice, with Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg getting one each after the break.

Callum Braley grabbed his first international try for Italy in the first half, and Ange Capuozzo also scored a double on debut.

Italy's Michele Lamaro bemoaned costly errors from his team, saying after the loss: "It's tough, we have to learn from this.

"Today, Scotland knew how to put pressure on at the breakdown. In that area, they have got players who are very capable and we really struggled all game. Against Wales, it will probably be a similar situation. We will have to work hard on it this week."

Italy have lost their past 36 games in the Six Nations, the longest losing run by any nation in the competition's This was their narrowest loss in the Six Nations since losing by 11 against France in 2019.

Scotland beat 40 defenders in the win, just the sixth time any side has beaten 40 or more in a Six Nations game and just the second time any nation has managed it away from home, after France who beat 55 in Italy in 2017.

Charlie Ewels was sent off after only 82 seconds as Ireland secured a 32-15 bonus-point victory at Twickenham to stay in the hunt to win the Six Nations and end heroic England's hopes of claiming the title.

Ewels was shown the earliest red card in championship history for a dangerous tackle on James Ryan and it looked like the Red Rose would be in for a painful evening when James Lowe crossed early on.

Yet Eddie Jones' side, roared on by a raucous crowd, produced an inspired display despite being a man down, only trailing 15-9 at half-time in an absorbing contest following three Marcus Smith penalties and a Hugo Keenan try for the visitors.

Smith's fourth and fifth penalties brought a spirited England level, but a Johnny Sexton penalty 15 minutes from time put Ireland back in front before late tries from Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham sealed a victory that moved Andy Farrell's men two points adrift of leaders France.

Ireland are at home to Scotland in their last match of the tournament next Saturday and will be hoping for a favour from England when they do battle with Les Bleus in Paris. 

Ewels' participation was over soon after it started, with referee Mathieu Raynal giving the lock his marching orders after he clashed heads with Ryan attempting a tackle.

With a dazed Ryan unable to continue, Sexton slotted over the resulting penalty and Lowe raced down the left to score the opening try in a dramatic start after taking a pass from Josh van der Flier.

Caelan Doris had a try ruled out due to a Garry Ringrose knock-on and Tom Curry limped off before England started to dictate the game despite being a man down, Smith reducing the deficit with two penalties and also missing one.

The Red Rose pack dominated – wing Jack Nowell playing his part in the scrum – but Jamison Gibson-Park's quick free-kick opened the door for Keenan to crash over before Smith's third penalty on the stroke of half-time made it 15-9.

There was another blow for England when Kyle Sinckler failed a head injury assessment at half-time, Will Stuart replacing him, but another Smith penalty left them only three points down.

Fly-half Smith brought them level midway through the second half with another penalty won in a ferocious scrum, but Sexton booted Ireland back into the lead and converted after Conan crashed over from close range after 71 minutes.

Bealham added insult to injury as the pressure told on weary England late on, barging over in the corner and Sexton took his points tally with the boot to 12 by adding the extras.

Ewels gives England a mountain to climb

After a huge build-up to what Eddie Jones had billed as a semi-final, losing Ewels right at the start meant England were always going to be up against it.

Although there was no malice in his tackle on Ryan, French official Raynal felt he had no option but to dismiss the England man. The Red Rose, driven on by a powerful pack, showed great character to make a brilliant game of it and the scoreline did not tell the full story.

Gibson-Park makes Ireland tick

This was certainly not a vintage Ireland performance as they made far too many errors and showed indiscipline, but they looked dangerous every time they attacked and were ruthless as England tired.

Gibson-Park made them tick and has been a revelation at scrum-half, making 59 passes and setting up a try for Keenan that came at an important time late in the first half.

What's next?

Ireland take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in the second game of the final weekend before England do battle with Les Bleus in a decisive last match in Paris.

Chris Harris scored a first-half double as Scotland beat Italy 33-22 in an entertaining Six Nations encounter at the Stadio Olimpico.

Smarting from defeats at the hands of Wales and France, Gregor Townsend's side ran in five tries to win the Cuttitta Trophy in Rome on Saturday and move above Wales into fourth place.

Sam Johnson scored the opening try before Harris crossed twice, with Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg getting in on the act after the break.

Callum Braley went in for a first international try in the first half and Ange Capuozzo scored a debut double, but the Azzurri's losing Six Nations run was extended to 36 matches on the penultimate weekend of the tournament.

Paolo Garbisi's penalty gave Italy an early lead, but Scotland were in front when Johnson finished in the right corner after George Turner had powered down the other flank to put Italy on the back foot.

Ali Price was the architect for a second try on the break after 21 minutes, intercepting Braley's pass deep inside his own half and bursting forward before whipping a pass out to Kyle Steyn, whose clever kick over the top enabled Harris to touch down.

Finn Russell added the extras, but Italy cut the gap to only two points after Pierre Bruno's brilliant offload on the touchline in the right corner put a try on a plate for Braley and Garbisi sent an excellent conversion between the posts.

Italy's joy was short-lived, though, as Harris surged over for his second score late in the first half to round off a well-executed Scotland move.

Graham showed pace and power when racing through the middle to reward more Scotland pressure with another try early in the second half and Hogg darted over in the left corner after taking a fine pass from the impressive Price.

Russell expertly converted from wide on the left for a fourth time and the points continued to come, with Capuozzo wriggling his way over twice in a promising cameo off the bench, but Scotland were comfortable winners.

Italy pay the Price

Scrum-half Price was outstanding as he made Scotland tick before he was replaced late on.

The number nine showed great awareness for the interception that led to Harris' opening try and threw a great pass for Hogg to score, pulling the strings in a lively display.

Clinical Harris

Harris was on hand to help himself to a brace, firstly showing great speed to get on the end of Steyn's well-weighted kick over the top and then running a great line for his second score.

What's next?

Scotland end their campaign with a trip to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday, when Italy take on Wales in Cardiff.

Fabien Galthie says France are in the "dream scenario" as they stand on the brink of a Grand Slam but knows the Six Nations leaders face a massive test against England.

Anthony Jelonch scored the only try of an almighty battle with Wales at the Principality Stadium, where Les Bleus won 13-9 on Friday to maintain their 100 per cent record.

France defended magnificently to keep the holders at bay in Cardiff and have a first title since 2010 in their sights.

England will arrive at Stade de France determined to spoil the party and can also be crowned champions with a win in the French capital if they beat Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

France head coach Galthie sees his side as a work in progress and is prepared for a tense evening in Paris.

"The dream scenario is to win the games, Four wins after four rounds, that was our ambition. We have learned from the past, this is still a team in progress," said Galthie.

"We have managed to balance things in this competition in terms of our efforts. Four wins, that is what you dream of. Now we will turn our attention to the final match against England.

“It’s England, the finalists from the last World Cup, a huge rugby nation. We can't make a mistake about our opponent.

"We have to start the preparation in a pleasant way, while enjoying this [win over Wales] and this weekend. We will flip on Monday and prepare with our method and our conviction. There will be a match to play, as always."

It was not pretty as France dug in to defeat Wales and Galthie was delighted with the way they went about their business.

He added: "The key is to win, differently, agreed, but it's good to win. The winning streak is the hardest thing to do, especially here against a very good tactical side.

"We had a week with the players suffering from the flu and we were hit by Covid. Despite a number of players missing time, the team came and got the win and that is important.

"We won five turnovers at the breakdown, while being disciplined and conceding just eight penalties. The know-how of our defensive line, with big tackles, good entries into the rucks and playing the ball, that's a box that is ticked by the players collectively and individually."

France captain Antoine Dupont said his side are embracing the spotlight surrounding next Saturday's fixture against England to complete the Six Nations Grand Slam.

Les Blues have only completed the Grand Slam once since 2004 – in 2010 – while more recently Ireland achieved the feat in 2018, followed by Wales in 2019.
 
After beating Wales 13-9, Dupont spoke about the strength of the French defence and its ability to win tough contests, before looking forward to the big clash against England.
 
"We felt that we could count on our defense," he said. "They often came to our camp with our faults and their long kicking game. 
 
"We were able to cope, and it's something that has carried us for several matches – we have to continue on that. 

"It wasn't the most beautiful match we've had to watch, but you have to know how to win like that too. 
 
"We try to turn this pressure into motivation – we said we wanted to have the cards in hand for the last match, it's done. 
 
"We will be able to devote ourselves fully to it and we hope that it will work. The party tonight is going to be very light. We're going to wait a week and hope to be able to party.
 
"In the dressing room, there was a mix of emotions, joy and pride intertwined, but with the England game in the back of my mind. 
 
"We're going to enjoy tonight, but we're all looking forward to Saturday night [against England]. 
 
"The Grand Slam? From now on, we can talk about it. 
 
"It's going to be on everyone's lips and in the media this week. It's up to us to make sure we win this match, and we know what will come of it."

England are still in contention to win the Six Nations, but they must beat Ireland in Saturday's clash at Twickenham.

England are "really optimistic" Maro Itoje will be fit for Saturday's Six Nations showdown with Ireland.

The British and Irish Lions lock has been struggling with illness ahead of the round four clash at Twickenham.

Red Rose forwards coach Matt Proudfoot provided an encouraging update on Itoje on the eve of the game.

He said: "Maro was a little sick overnight so we're just giving him an opportunity to recover, but we're really optimistic he’ll be alright."

England prop Kyle Sinckler recovered from a back injury and will start against second-placed Ireland.

"Kyle fully trained. He had a great training session and looked really good," Proudfoot said.

England and Ireland have won two and lost one of their three matches ahead of a huge encounter in London.

Proudfoot says Eddie Jones' side are in great shape as they battle to win the title.

"For us it's a great opportunity to go after them. The team has trained really, really well and every week it’s got more and more competitive," he said.

"The preparation has been great and when they walked off the field today (Friday), you could see the confidence in the eyes of the players.

"We know we've got to go after them. Ireland have been together for a big part of the year because of their large Leinster contingent, so we know they have that as an advantage, but we're eager for the opportunity.

"It tends to be the deeper you go into the Six Nations, it gets more and more intense. This is probably going to be the most intense game we've played since the Springboks."

France are rolling towards a possible Grand Slam as they arrive in Cardiff for game four in their Six Nations mission, but Fabien Galthie's team must not switch off now.

The championship may yet see a France versus England title decider at the Stade de France next weekend, but whether 'Le Crunch' proves crucial will hinge on results this time around.

A mighty Welsh effort in Cardiff could knock the French juggernaut off course, while Ireland will believe they can achieve a result at Twickenham.

Scotland and Italy, meanwhile, tussle in Rome. That was once typically a Wooden Spoon decider; this time, the Scots are heavy favourites.

Ahead of the fourth round of fixtures, Stats Perform previews each match with help from Opta.

WALES V FRANCE

FORM

Wales have lost each of their last two meetings with France in the Six Nations, after winning seven of their previous eight clashes in the championship. France's 27-23 win at the Principality Stadium two years ago was their first success in Cardiff in the competition since 2010, and France have not won back-to-back away games against Wales since reeling off four in a row from 2000 to 2006.

Wayne Pivac's Wales won at home against Scotland last month but have lost on the road to Ireland and England. The Welsh have pulled off 10 wins from their last 11 matches in Cardiff in the Six Nations, with France the only side to beat them during that sequence.

This France team are living up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites and have won their last six Test matches, their best run since also winning six on the bounce in 2006. They have not won more consecutive internationals since a run of eight in 2004, which included a victory in Cardiff.

ONES TO WATCH

Among players to hit 20 or more attacking rucks in this season's Six Nations, Wales' Ross Moriarty has the best ruck effectiveness rate, cleaning out the opposition or securing possession at 96 per cent of the attacking rucks he has hit (27 of 28). Moriarty is not a starter this week, as Pivac rings the changes, but will surely have a role to play off the bench.

France's Damian Penaud would have been a strong contender here, having beaten 10 defenders in this year's Six Nations, the joint most of any player alongside Scotland's Darcy Graham, with Penaud also achieving a championship-best tackle evasion rate of 77 per cent. Penaud is ruled out by a COVID-19 positive test, so can his fellow wings Yoram Moefana and Gabin Villiere prove as elusive?

 

ITALY V SCOTLAND

FORM

There was a time when Scotland dreaded facing Italy, but those days appear long gone. The Scots have won their last six matches against the Azzurri in the Six Nations, last losing at Murrayfield in 2015. Prior to this dominant era, Scotland had won nine and Italy had won seven of their first 16 clashes in the championship. The Scots have won their last four away games against Italy.

Italy's losing run in the competition has now reached a dismal 35 games, and that Murrayfield victory seven years ago was their last success. Kieran Crowley's team have failed to score a try in their last two Six Nations games, the first time this has happened for Italy since they went on a run of three games without a try in the 2009 championship.

Ali Price is set to win his 50th cap for Scotland. The Glasgow Warriors scrum-half has scored just one try in his seven appearances against Italy, although he has four try assists across his last two Tests against the Azzurri.

ONES TO WATCH

Michele Lamaro has made 59 tackles in this year's Six Nations, at least 13 more than any other player. That is the upside. The downside is that he has also missed the most tackles of any player (13); however, only one of those missed tackles led to a break, with the other 12 seeing the opposition player tackled by a team-mate.

By contrast, Scotland's Hamish Watson has made 31 tackles without missing one so far in this year's competition. Only Ireland's Caelan Doris has made more without missing (36/36). Watson has now made 180 tackles in the championship since his last miss, which came back in 2019 against England.

 

ENGLAND V IRELAND

FORM

England have tended to like this fixture of late, having won four of their last five home games against Ireland in the Six Nations. A 24-15 defeat in 2018 was the exception in this run which started in 2012. England have also won 22 of their last 25 home matches – taking all opponents into account – in the Six Nations (D1, L2).

Yet Ireland are the only side that England have a losing record against in the Six Nations era, winning just 45 per cent of their meetings in the championship (W10, L12).

Whoever leads at half-time seems nailed on for the win. None of the previous 22 Six Nations matches between England and Ireland have seen an interval deficit overturned to bring about a victory for the trailing team.

ONES TO WATCH

England's Marcus Smith is the leading points scorer so far in this year's championship. He has 48 points, meaning Smith is two shy of becoming the fifth different England player to notch up 50 points in an edition of the Six Nations (Jonny Wilkinson 7 times, Toby Flood once, Owen Farrell 6 times, George Ford once).

Ireland's Doris has been a 'nuisance' (slowing the opposition ball) at more rucks (7) than any other player in this year's tournament, Opta data shows.

Josh Navidi has been passed fit to start his first Test for almost a year when Wales face leaders France in the Six Nations on Friday.

Navidi last played for his country against Les Bleus in the 2021 Six Nations, but will start at open-side flanker at the Principality Stadium after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Seb Davies comes in at blindside flanker, as Ross Moriarty and Taine Basham drop out of the side following a defeat to England at Twickenham that leaves the holders in fifth place.

Prop Gareth Thomas and centre Jonathan Davies also get the nod for the round-four showdown in Cardiff.

Tomas Francis and Josh Adams have been given the green light to start after coming through the return to play protocols.

Nick Tompkins will not feature after suffering a concussion in Saracens' win over Leicester Tigers last weekend. Wing Louis Rees-Zammit returns, but will be among the replacements.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: "Josh is a fantastic player and has played well for us in the past.

"He’s come back before straight back into the side so having 80 minutes under his belt for Cardiff we think that’s enough for him and we look forward to him being back out there bringing that experience.

"He’s a very good player and has played at this level on many occasions so that’s going to be great for us.

"Seb at six just gives us a little bit more size. It helps the lineout, but also in the wider channels where he often runs he’s got the skill set to trouble a few defenders out wide.

"I think Gareth made a really big impact for us last week as did a number of players and so he gets to start."

 

Wales team: Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Owen Watkin, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar (captain), Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Seb Davies, Josh Navidi, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Dewi Lake, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Ross Moriarty, Jac Morgan, Kieran Hardy, Gareth Anscombe, Louis Rees-Zammit.

Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton will retire after the 2023 World Cup despite signing a new deal with Irish Rugby.

The 36-year-old, who earned his 100th cap in November and won the 2018 World Player of the Year, wants to go out on a high at next year's World Cup in France.

Irish Rugby confirmed on Tuesday that Sexton had signed a new contract up until the 2023 event but the 103-cap veteran said he would finish up after that.

“Yeah, finished, 2023 World Cup – it’s up to me to work hard, get the body and mind in the best shape possible and attack the last 18 months,” he said.

“I’m still very driven to get there and perform at the World Cup. I always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and the Ireland and Leinster set-ups believe I can add value to the environment then it would be an easy decision to sign another contract.

“There is some great talent coming through at Leinster at present and I am excited about the prospect of competing at a fourth World Cup with Ireland and the potential for growth in this group between now and then.”

Sexton has played 103 times for Ireland in his storied career and reached the milestone of 500 points in the Six Nations in the 29-7 win over the defending champions last month.

A four-time European Champions Cup winner with Leinster, Sexton is now looking ahead to the prospect of a fourth World Cup finals appearance in France next year.

Ireland and Leinster star Johnny Sexton has signed a new contract that will run until after the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The 36-year-old has captained his country since January 2020, leading them to 10 wins in 13 matches in that time.

Sexton has played 103 times for Ireland in his storied career and reached the milestone of 500 points in the Six Nations in the 29-7 win over the defending champions last month.

A four-time European Champions Cup winner with Leinster, Sexton is now looking ahead to the prospect of a fourth World Cup finals appearance in France next year.

"I always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and the Ireland and Leinster set-ups believe I can add value to the environment then it would be an easy decision to sign another contract," the fly-half said.

 

"There is some great talent coming through at Leinster at present and I am excited about the prospect of competing at a fourth World Cup with Ireland and the potential for growth in this group between now and then."

David Nucifora, performance director for Irish Rugby, said: "Johnny's performances continue to be of the highest standard and he remains an integral member of the Ireland and Leinster squads.

"He has always been a leader on the field and in the past two years since taking on the Ireland captaincy his leadership off it has been top class. Johnny is a generational player and we are delighted that he has extended to 2023."

Ireland cruised to a bonus-point 57-6 win over Italy in the Six Nations after a contentious red card left the Azzurri with 13 men.

Italy were always expected to slump to a heavy defeat in Dublin, having done so against both France and England, and their hopes of an upset were essentially ended in the 19th minute when Hame Faiva, on as a replacement hooker for Gianmarco Lucchesi, was sent off.

Faiva was deemed to have made dangerous shoulder-to-chin contact in a tackle on Dan Sheehan, his subsequent dismissal and the World Rugby requirement for hooker-less Italy to be a man down in an uncontested scrum in such circumstances reducing them to 13 men.

From that point, the game was over as a contest, Ireland running in nine tries to make it two wins from three and keep their hopes of Six Nations glory firmly intact as they leapfrogged England into second behind unbeaten France.

Joey Carbery crawled over the line to open the scoring after an Ireland break in the third minute.

Italy answered through Edoardo Padovani's long-range penalty, but the game was settled for all intents and purposes when the officials decided to dismiss Faiva after a long discussion with the TMO despite a seemingly innocuous tackle appearing to have done no damage to Sheehan.

It prompted another prolonged discussion at the scrum as referee Nika Amashukeli explained Italy's secondary punishment, which was soon followed by Jamison Gibson-Park going over for Ireland's second try.

A predictable Ireland overlap saw Michael Lowry cross, the bonus-point try then coming from Peter O'Mahony before Padovani gave Italy some cheer with another penalty before the break.

The rout continued thereafter, though, James Lowe strolling over out wide before Lowry added his second and Ryan Baird charged down an Italy kick to scoop up and dot down.

Italy were then reduced to 12 men as the game finished in farce with Braam Steyn shown a yellow card for batting the ball out of play. Lowe's easy second try took Ireland to the half-century mark and Kieran Treadwell had the final say against a shattered Italy defence.

 

Unwanted century comes in ruined spectacle

Italy's defeat marked their 100th in the Six Nations, but that unwanted milestone will be overshadowed by the officiating controversy in the first half.

In the circumstances of both the red card and reducing Italy to 13 men, Amashukeli was bound by the rules, but Italy being punished twice for a decision that was marginal at best was extremely harsh and ruined the game as a spectacle.

Ireland home comforts continue

Ireland have now lost just two of their past 23 home matches in the Six Nations, and few have come easier than this victory against an outnumbered Italy side.

What's next?

Italy host Scotland in Rome on March 12, when Ireland face a pivotal blockbuster clash with England at Twickenham.

Scotland denied France glory in last year's Six Nations, with their dramatic victory in Paris meaning Les Bleus missed out on the title.

Now, France will be out for vengeance as they head to Edinburgh at the top of the standings with two victories from their opening two matches.

England, meanwhile, bounced back from their defeat to Scotland in round one with a hammering of Italy, and Eddie Jones' second-placed team host Wales at Twickenham. 

Wales lost convincingly to Ireland in their first game, yet defeated Scotland 20-17 last time out, though the defending champions are down in fifth place as it stands.

The final match of the weekend sees Ireland take on Italy in Dublin. The Azzurri are staring down the barrel of a 100th Six Nations defeat.

Ahead of the third round of fixtures, Stats Perform previews each match with help from Opta.

SCOTLAND V FRANCE

FORM

Scotland have won four of their last six games against France in the Championship, including the last two in a row and a first win in Paris since 1999. They have not won three in a row against Les Bleus in the tournament since 1956-1958.

This will be the 99th meeting between Scotland and France in all competitions, with Les Bleus leading the head to head with 56 wins (L39, D3). However, honours are even across the last 10 clashes, with both sides picking up five wins each.

France opened their campaign with a pair of wins, something they also managed in 2021. The only time since 2011 when they have won their opening three games was in 2020, when they missed out on the title and a Grand Slam after a fourth-round defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Darcy Graham has beaten a Championship-high nine defenders so far. He is just ahead of French duo Gabin Villiere, Damian Penaud, and Marcus Smith.

France's Gregory Alldritt has made more carries (30) than any other player, while he has also gained 83 post-contact metres, the most of any forward and fourth most of any player, after Ireland's Mack Hansen (107), Scotland's Graham (86) and team-mate Penaud (84), as well as hitting 10 more defensive rucks (36) than anyone else.

ENGLAND V WALES

FORM

The last four Six Nations matches between these sides have been won by the home side on the day. Indeed, England have won their last four home games against Wales in the Championship, only once since 1930 have they enjoyed a longer such streak, a nine-game run between 1990 and 2006.

England have lost just two of their last 24 home games in the Six Nations (W21, D1), defeats to Ireland in 2018 and Scotland in 2021. Wales' last win at Twickenham in the Championship was in 2012. Since the start of the 2016 tournament, Wales have picked up just one away victory outside of Scotland or Italy, a 24-19 win in Paris in 2019.

England (49) and Wales (34) have made more maul metres than any other sides so far in this edition of the Six Nations.

ONES TO WATCH

Jones has named Ben Youngs on England's bench. If he comes on, Youngs will win his 115th Test cap, overtaking Jason Leonard as the country's most capped men's player. The scrum-half has been involved in five tries in his last six starts against Wales (three tries, two assists).

Alex Cuthbert is set to play for Wales for a 50th time.  He is looking to score his first try in the Six Nations since crossing against Italy in 2014.

 

IRELAND V ITALY

FORM

Ireland have won 21 of their 22 previous Six Nations matches against Italy, their sole defeat coming in 2013 (15-22), in what was the Azzurri's last home victory in the Championship.

Italy's next defeat will be their 100th in the Championship, they are currently on a record 34 match losing run, almost seven years since last claiming a victory (22-19 v Scotland, 28 Feb 2015).

Ireland hold a 100 per cent win rate against Italy at home in the Six Nations (W11), with the Azzurri the only side that has never won at the Aviva Stadium or Croke Park. Indeed, Ireland have scored 50 or more points in each of their last three home games against the tournament's whipping boys.

ONES TO WATCH

Hansen, Jamison Gibson-Park and Bundee Aki are three of just six players to both score and assist a try, the trio all scoring once and assisting one try after two rounds.

Italy's Federico Ruzza has won more lineouts (16) than any other player, including one steal, and team-mate Michele Lamaro has made the most tackles (41) in the tournament.

Rory Darge will make his first start for Scotland in their Six Nations clash with France on Saturday after Gregor Townsend was forced to reshuffle his pack.

The Glasgow Warriors flanker is named alongside Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury in an all-new back row, with the latter making his first Scotland start since 2020.

A slew of injuries have forced a clutch of players – including Cam Redpath, Rory Sutherland, Javan Sebastian, Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings – to drop out of contention.

Six more faces have been called up to the wider squad, though only prop Oli Kebble makes the matchday party from those added following Scotland's 20-17 defeat to Wales last time out.

Sam Skinner moves up to partner Grant Gilchrist at lock while WP Nel drops to the replacement bench in what is ultimately two direct changes to the starting line-up.

France meanwhile make just the one change to their starting XV, after Gabin Villiere was ruled out with a sinus fracture sustained against Ireland.

Jonathan Danty comes back into the side after dropping out for the 30-24 win over Andy Farrell's side, while Yoram Moefana moves over to the wing to cover the Toulon star Villiere's absence.

Les Bleus remain the only side unbeaten in this year's Championship, but now face consecutive matches on the road after enjoying home advantage in their first two games.

Both teams will be out to make metres, with Scotland duo Stuart Hogg (843) and Finn Russell (747) having accrued more kicking metres than any other players in the 2022 Six Nations so far.

However, it is France (2,261) who have made the most as a team, with three different players having made 500+ metres with the boot for them in Antoine Dupont (682), Melvyn Jaminet (564) and Romain Ntamack (501).

This will be the 99th clash between the two nations in all competitions, with France claiming victory on 56 occasions and Scotland winning 39 times.

However, the honours are evenly split across their last 10 meetings with both sides picking up five wins apiece during that period.

Scotland team:  Stuart Hogg, Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Finn Russell, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Rory Darge, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements:  George Turner, Oli Kebble, WP Nel, Jamie Hodgson, Nick Haining, Ben White, Blair Kinghorn, Mark Bennett.

France team:  Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Yoram Moefana, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Uini Atonio, Cameron Woki, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Anthony Jelonch, Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements:  Peato Mauvaka, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Thibaud Flament, Dylan Cretin, Maxime Lucu, Thomas Ramos.

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