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2021 Guinness Six Nations Weekend 1 Previews and Teams Selection Reports

2021 Guinness Six Nations Weekend 1 Previews and Teams Selection Reports

Ahead of the first weekend of matches, we are pleased to share you the first set of statistics for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship.

Match Previews and Team Selection Notes


      • Italy v France

    Date: Saturday, February 6
    Venue: Stadio Olimpico
    Kick-off: 15:15 local (14:15 GMT)
    Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
    Assistant Referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Christophe Ridley (England)
    TMO: Karl Dickson (England)


Italy: 15 Jacopo Trulla, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Marco Zanon, 12 Juan Ignacio Brex, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Michele Lamaro, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 David Sisi, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Giosuè Zilocchi, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Maxime Mbanda, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Carlo Canna

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Arthur Vincent, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Matthieu Jalibert, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bernard le Roux, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Pierre Bourgarit, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Anthony Jelonch, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Louis Carbonel, 23 Damian Penaud


    • France have won 19 of their 21 previous Six Nations matches against Italy (L2), including their last seven in a row, their two
      defeats in that time both came in Rome, in 2011 and 2013.
    • Italy have beaten France just three times in their Test rugby history (L41), losing their last 10 in a row against Les Bleus in all
    • France have led at halftime in each of their 10 previous Six Nations games against Italy in Rome (W8, L2), although their last
      five such meetings have seen the sides separated by fewer than 10 points at the break.
    • The biggest win in a match between these sides in the Six Nations came in Rome in 2005, with France securing a 43-point
      victory in the final round of fixtures (56-13).
    • A total of 57 points were scored when France (35) and Italy (22) last met in the Six Nations – only once since 2010 had a
      Championship fixture between the two sides yielded more points (58 in 2017).


    • France averaged the fewest 22 entries per game in last year’s Six Nations (7.2) but averaged the most points per entry of any
      team (3.2), while Italy recorded the second fewest 22 entries per game (7.4) and the fewest points per entry (1.0).
    • No one scored more tries than France in the 2020 Six Nations (17, same as Ireland), with six of those scored coming from kick
      returns, the most of any nation (Italy were the only side not to score a try from a kick return in 2020).
    • France (11) and Italy (10.2) conceded the most penalties per game in the Six Nations in 2020; France were awarded the fewest
      penalties on average (7.2) while only Ireland (11.2) were awarded more than the Azzurri (10, level with Scotland).
    • France crossed the gainline with 59% of their carries in the 2020 Six Nations, the best rate of any team, Italy recorded the
      lowest gainline success rate (39%).
    • France were the only side to record a 100% scrum success rate in the Six Nations in 2020, while Italy had the lowest success
      rate at that particular set piece (77%)


    • Italy have lost their last 27 Six Nations matches, the longest losing streak in the competition’s history, their last victory came
      at BT Murrayfield against Scotland in 2015, their last home win was back in 2013 against Ireland.
    • Since bonus points for tries and losing margins were introduced to the Six Nations in 2017 Italy are the only side not to pick
      up a try scoring bonus point, in fact they have only picked up one losing bonus point in that time.
    •  Italy’s Paolo Garbisi became the first player born since the Six Nations began (2000) to score a try in the Championship when
      he crossed against Ireland in October last year; the 20-year-old had also featured in the U20 Six Nations earlier in 2020.
    • Only Ireland (3,688) recorded more ball carry metres in the 2020 Six Nations than Italy (3,492), Italy also made the second
      most tackle breaks in the Championship last year (45, behind Ireland – 58).
    • Italy made just 51 handling errors during last year’s Six Nations, fewer than any other side in the tournament and were the
      only team to knock the ball on fewer than 20 times (14).


    • France achieved a cumulative points difference of +31 in the first 20 minutes of their 2020 Six Nations matches, no other side
      managed a double-digit points difference in this time, Italy had a -39 difference in this first quarter.
    • France scored six tries in the opening 20 minutes of their matches during last year’s Six Nations, more than any other side,
      while Italy conceded the most tries in that same period (5).
    • France made 55 offloads in the Six Nations in 2020, more than any other side, despite making the fewest passes of any team
      during the tournament (547).
    • Charles Ollivon (France) was the top try scorer in last year’s Six Nations, crossing four times in total, the joint most ever by a
      forward in an edition of the Championship (since 2000) along with Imanol Harinordoquy (2004).
    • Bernard Le Roux (84) and Gregory Alldritt (81) were the top two tacklers in the 2020 Six Nations, while teammate Charles
      Ollivon ranked fourth (77, behind Maro Itoje – 80).
    • Italy v France – Pre-Match Report – EN
    • Italy – Team Report – Six Nations – EN
    • France – Team Report – Six Nations – EN

    • England v Scotland

Date: Saturday, February 6
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)


England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (c), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Ford, 23 Max Malins

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland
Replacements: 16 David Cherry, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 WP Nel, 19 Richie Gray, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Huw Jones


    • The last time England hosted Scotland in the Six Nations they drew 38-38, the visitors clawing back the biggest ever half-time
      deficit (-24 pts, 7-31) by a side to avoid defeat in the tournament’s history, almost snatching victory before a late George Ford try
      levelled the match.
    • Scotland have never beaten England at Twickenham in the Six Nations (D1, L9), their last victory against them there came in
      1983 in the Five Nations (22-12).
    • England have lost just one of their last 12 Six Nations clashes with Scotland (W9, D2), that defeat coming at BT Murrayfield in
      2018; overall England have lost just four times against Scotland in the Six Nations (also 2000, 2006 and 2008).
    • England defeated Scotland 13-6 at a wet and windy BT Murrayfield in the 2020 Six Nations – that match saw Eddie Jones’ side
      lead 3-0 at halftime, the joint lowest scoring half in a Six Nations game (level with Scotland v Ireland in 2013 and England v Ireland
      in 2014).
    • England and Scotland first faced each other 150 years ago, in 1871, with Scotland winning in Edinburgh in what was the first
      international rugby union fixture.


    • Scotland enjoyed the most territory (56%) of any team in the Six Nations in 2020, while England recorded the second most
      (54%); only Ireland (13.6%) spent a higher proportion of their time in possession inside their opponents 22 than England (12.4%).
    • England made 116 dominant tackles in the 2020 Six Nations, the only side to reach triple figures in this category, Scotland
      made the third most but still 40 fewer than England (76, France 98).
    • Scotland successfully made 93% of their attempted tackles in the 2020 Six Nations, the best rate of any side, while England
      boasted the second best rate (91%).
    • England and Scotland each scored three tries originating from counter attacks in last year’s Six Nations, only France (4) scored
      more in that fashion.
    • Scotland conceded just five tries in the Six Nations in 2020, fewer than any other nation; England were the only other team to
      concede fewer than 10 tries in the tournament last year (9).


    • England have lost just one of their last 21 home games in the Six Nations (W19, D1), a 15-24 loss to Ireland in 2018; they have
      picked up a try scoring bonus point in half of their games at Twickenham (5/10) since the system was introduced to the
      Championship in 2017.
    • England have won 17 of 21 previous Round 1 matches in the Six Nations, the best rate of any nation, Scotland have the joint
      worst rate with Italy (3/21).
    • In 2020 England won their seventh Six Nations title, no other team has won more than five (since 2000); they’ve won three of
      the five editions since Eddie Jones took charge in 2016, only Bernard Laporte has more Championship wins since 2000 (4 – Gatland,
      Woodward, Schmidt also 3).
    • Eight of England’s 14 tries (57%) in the 2020 Six Nations came from first phase possession, no other side scored as many or as
      high a ratio of their tries in that fashion.
    • England’s Owen Farrell has scored exactly 1000 Test points (incl. Lions), one of just six men to reach that milestone (also D
      Carter, J Wilkinson, N Jenkins, R O’Gara, D Dominguez); Farrell is just four points away from scoring his 100th against Scotland,
      they’d be the seventh nation he’s reached a century of Test points against (also Australia, Wales, South Africa, Italy, Ireland, France).


    • Scotland concluded the 2020 Six Nations by winning their last three games in a row, their best ever run in Championship
      history (since 2000); they conceded the fewest points (59) and tries (5) of any side in the 2020 edition of the competition.
    • Scotland made 553 carries for 3,297 metres in last year’s Six Nations, their average carry distance of six metres was the best
      rate of any nation in the tournament in 2020.
    • Scotland were one of just two teams not to receive a card of any colour in the Six Nations last year (also Wales). In fact,
      they’ve been shown just one in total in their last three campaigns – a yellow card against Italy in Round 1 of 2019.
    • Jamie Ritchie won four turnovers during last year’s Six Nations, only CJ Stander (5) won more; Ritchie also made 50 carries
      and 54 tackles, one of just five players to make 50+ in each category (also CJ Stander, Gregory Alldritt, Jake Polledri and James
    • Scotland’s Stuart Hogg has gained 3,003 metres with ball in hand in his Six Nations career (41 games), only Sergio Parisse
      (3,088) has gained more.
    • England – Scotland – Pre-Match Report – EN
    • England – Team Report – Six Nations – EN
    • Scotland – Team Report – Six Nations – EN

    • Wales v Ireland (Team Selection Notes to follow)

Date: Sunday, February 7
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Alex Ruiz (France)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Nick Tompkins

Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Will Connors, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Jordan Larmour


    • – None of the last seven Six Nations clashes between Wales and Ireland have seen the away side pick up a win (D1, L6),
      Ireland’s win in Cardiff in 2013 the last time the visitors picked up a win in this fixture.
    • – Wales have won their last three Six Nations games at home against Ireland, this after winning just two of their initial seven Six
      Nations meetings in Cardiff (L5); it is Wales’ best run at home against Ireland in the Five or Six Nations since winning eight in a row
      from 1969 to 1983.
    • – Ireland have won each of their last four Test meetings with Wales overall – as many as they’d won in their previous 12 clashes
      (D1, L7) – their best run since 2001-2004 (W5).
    • – Neither side has come from behind at halftime to win in this fixture in the Six Nations since 2012 when Wales defeated
      Ireland despite trailing by five points at the break; Wales did pick up a draw against Ireland in 2016 after trailing at halftime though.
    • – Wales raced into a 16-0 first-half lead the last time they faced Ireland in Cardiff in the Six Nations – it was their biggest
      halftime lead against Ireland in any Test match since 1920 (17-0).


    • – No one scored more tries than Ireland in the 2020 edition of the Six Nations (17, same as France), four of those were
      launched from the back of a scrum, Wales (2) were the only other side to score multiple tries following a scrum.
    • – Ireland averaged 8.8 entries into the opposition 22 in the Six Nations last year, more than any other side, while only France
      (3.2) scored more points per 22 entry than Wales (2.6) during last year’s tournament.
    • – Ireland scored seven tries in the final quarter of their matches in the 2020 Six Nations, more than any other side, while Wales
      scored the joint second most in that period (6, level with England).
    • – Ireland scored four tries originating from the scrum in the Six Nations last year, more than any other nation; in fact, Wales
      were the only other side to score multiple tries when beginning a sequence of possession from a scrum (2).
    • – Wales averaged the most carries per game (127) of any team in the Six Nations last year, while Ireland averaged the second
      most (126); Ireland recorded the most running metres per game of any side (738, Wales 3rd most – 690)


    • Wales have lost their last two home games in the Six Nations, the last time they lost three on the bounce at home was
      2002-03; in fact overall they’ve lost their last four games in the Championship, their worst streak since 2006-07 (L5).
    • Wales won 62 of their 70 lineouts in the 2020 Six Nations, their 89% success rate was the best of any nation in last year’s
    • Wales made 89 handling errors in the 2020 Six Nations, 22 more than any other side, including more knock-ons (35) than
      anyone else.
    • George North has scored 20 tries in the Six Nations, two more would take him level with fellow Welshman Shane Williams
      (22) as the Championship’s second top try scorer (since 2000), behind only Brian O’Driscoll (26); North has scored a brace of tries
      against Ireland once previously, doing so in Cardiff during the 2017 Six Nations.
    • Of players to attempt more than one kick at goal in last year’s Six Nations Welsh duo Leigh Halfpenny (100%, 6/6) and Dan
      Biggar (94%, 16/17) boasted the two best goal kicking success rates.


    • On the road Ireland have lost their last three games in a row in the Six Nations, the third time they have endured such a
      streak in the competition (since 2000, also 2013-14 & 2016-17), they’ve never lost four consecutive away games in the
    • Ireland scored three tries directly from their maul in the 2020 Six Nations, no other nation scored more than one try in that
      fashion; Andy Farrell’s men also gained the most metres from their maul (81) while Wales gained the fewest (21).
    • Ireland boasted a ruck success rate of 98% in the 2020 Six Nations, the best rate of any team, while they were one of two
      sides with an average ruck speed under three seconds (2.1, Italy also 2.1).
    • Ireland conceded just 41 penalties in the Six Nations last year, fewer than any other side, while they were also awarded the
      most penalties of any nation (56).
    • Ireland will be with Jacob Stockdale, who was the only player to run with the ball for more than 500 metres in last year’s Six
      Nations (541), while he also made the most linebreaks (9) and second most tackle breaks (11, behind Jake Polledri – 14).
    • Wales v Ireland – Pre-Match Report – EN



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