The middle weekend of the three RBS 6 Nations Championships features key matches for the Ireland Under-20, senior and Women’s teams as they face their English counterparts in Newcastle and London.
UNDER-20 RBS 6 NATIONS: Friday, February 26
ENGLAND UNDER-20s (3rd) v IRELAND UNDER-20s (5th), Kingston Park, 6.05pm (live Sky Sports 3 HD)
– The England Under-20s’ only defeat in their last half-a-dozen Six Nations encounters was to Scotland at Cumbernauld in round 1
– The England U-20s have not been defeated at home since going down 25-10 to Ireland at Kingsholm in 2010
– The Ireland U-20s have lost their five most recent Six Nations encounters since beating France 37-20 in Athlone in round 2 last year
– Ireland’s only away win since 2012 in the Under-20 Six Nations came on a trip to Italy in round 1 last season
– England have won their last three matches against Ireland at this level, including the semi-final of the World Rugby U-20 Championship in New Zealand in 2014
– Kingston Park hosts its second Under-20 international, in the previous game in 2014 England beat Wales 67-7
ENGLAND U-20: Max Malins (Saracens); George Perkins (Saracens), Joe Marchant (Harlequins), Charlie Thacker (Leicester Tigers), Ollie Thorley (Gloucester); Mathew Protheroe (Gloucester), Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie); Tom West (Wasps), Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors), Will Stuart (Wasps), Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors), George Nott (Sale Sharks), Archie White (Harlequins), Sam Smith (Worcester Warriors), Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons) (capt).
Replacements: Curtis Langdon (London Irish), Jake Pope (Sale Sharks), Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs), Stan South (Harlequins), Jack Willis (Wasps), Jamie Shillcock (Worcester Warriors), Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs), Paolo Odogwu (Leicester Tigers).
IRELAND U-20: Jack Power (UCD/Leinster); Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster), Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster), Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster); Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster), Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht); Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster), Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster), Conan O’Donnell (Sligo/Connacht), Peter Claffey (Galwegians/Connacht), James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (capt), Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht), Will Connors (UCD/Leinster), Greg Jones (UCD/Leinster).
Replacements: Shane Fenton (Young Munster/Munster), James Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster), Ben Betts (Young Munster/Munster), Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster), Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster), John Poland (Cork Constitution/Munster), Brett Connon (Newcastle Falcons/Exiles), Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster).
Referee: Tual Trainini (France)
Assistant Referees: Arnaud Blondel, Christophe Malterre (both France)
Television Match Official: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
WOMEN’S RBS 6 NATIONS: Saturday, February 27
ENGLAND WOMEN (2nd) v IRELAND WOMEN (3rd), Twickenham, 7.15pm (live on England Rugby YouTube Channel)
– The England Women have won their opening two matches, against Scotland and Italy, representing their best start in the Six Nations since 2012
– England’s only home defeat in their last nine Tests was 21-15 to France at Twickenham in round 5 last year
– The Ireland Women were defeated by France in Perpignan in the last round and have not lost successive matches in the tournament since 2012
– The two nations have met on 22 previous occasions with Ireland’s only two victories both being at Ashbourne, in 2013 and 2015
– This is the 14th Women’s Test match at Twickenham, two of those have featured Ireland, with England winning 51-10 in 2004 and 17-10 in 2014
ENGLAND WOMEN: Katie Mason (Bristol); Lydia Thompson (Worcester), Lauren Cattell (Saracens), Ceri Large (Worcester), Lotte Clapp (Saracens); Amber Reed (Bristol), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park); Rochelle Clark (Worcester), Emma Croker (Richmond), Vickii Cornborough (Richmond), Abbie Scott (Darlington Mowden Park), Emily Braund (Lichfield), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Sarah Hunter (Bristol) (capt).
Replacements: Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park), Bee Dawson (Wasps), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park), Poppy Leitch (Bristol), Bianca Blackburn (Worcester), Ruth Laybourn (Darlington Mowden Park), Leanne Riley (Richmond).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster) (capt); Elise O’Byrne White (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Aine Donnelly (Cill Dara/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Galwegians/Connacht), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Skewen); Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Cliodhna Moloney (Railway Union/Leinster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol), Paula Fitzpatrick (Toulouse).
Replacements: Zoe Grattage (Tralee/Munster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Fiona Reidy (UL Bohemians/Munster), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Heather O’Brien (Toulouse), Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht), Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond).
Referee: Alhambra Nievas (Spain)
RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, February 13
ENGLAND (1st) v IRELAND (4th), Twickenham, 4.50pm (live RTÉ Two/ITV/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)
STATS & FACTS
– England are yet to concede a try in the opening two rounds of the 2016 RBS 6 Nations. Only two other sides have achieved this before, France eventually conceding a try after 201 minutes in 2000, and Ireland in 217 minutes in 2014
– England’s only defeat in their last eleven matches in the Championship was 19-9 to Ireland in Dublin in round 3 last year
– England have lost their last two matches at Twickenham, against Wales and Australia in RWC 2015, but have not lost three in-a-row at the venue since 2008
– The Englishmen have not lost at Twickenham in the RBS 6 Nations since Wales were the visitors in round 3 in 2012
– Ireland are without a win in the opening two rounds, the first time this has occurred in the Championship since they were ‘whitewashed’ in 1998
– Ireland’s only victory in their last four RBS 6 Nations matches was 40-10 on their visit to BT Murrayfield in round 5 last season
– England have won five of their last six Test matches against Ireland, while Ireland’s only victory at Twickenham since 2006 was 20-16 during the RBS 6 Nations in 2010
ON THE PITCH
– CJ Stander has the most carries (42) of any player so far in the 2016 RBS 6 Nations
– George Kruis has won the most lineouts (15) in the Championship this season
– Only Ireland and Wales have a 100% scrum success so far
– England have won more turnovers (24) than any other country
ENGLAND: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs); George Ford (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints) (capt), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins), James Haskell (Wasps), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: Jamie George (Saracens), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Paul Hill (Northampton Saints), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Alex Goode (Saracens).
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Connacht), Stuart McCloskey (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).
Replacements: Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Nathan White (Connacht), Ultan Dillane (Corinthians/Connacht), Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Old Crescent/Leinster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster).
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Television Match Official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
– Compiled by SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)