Six Nations: Italy v Ireland - Kick-off time, TV details, team news and more
Andy Farrell’s side face a must-win in Rome, France’s clash with Scotland is postponed
Tadhg Furlong returns to Ireland’s starting XV against Italy. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
The Six Nations resumes on Saturday after a fallow weekend, with the Championship picture starting to take shape as we head into the third round of fixtures.
Unfortunately for Ireland, their challenge is all but over already. Opening defeats to Wales and France have left him with a mountain to climb.
This weekend they travel to take on Italy in Rome. The Azzurri are on a lengthy losing run in the tournament but Ireland will be very wary of their beleaguered hosts.
Anything other than a comprehensive victory will be seen as a disappointment for Andy Farrell’s side, while a defeat could make the prospect of a Wooden Spoon campaign a sobering possibility.
But this is also a chance to get back on the horse after a slow start, and build confidence ahead of final round fixtures against Scotland and England.
As well as Ireland’s trip to Italy, Grand Slam chasing Wales welcome England to Cardiff.
Scotland’s visit to France however has been postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the French camp, leading to concerns over the future of the tournament.
Here is everything you need to know,
What is it?
Round three of the 2021 Six Nations Championship, including Ireland’s trip to play Italy in Rome.
When is it?
Ireland are up first this weekend, with a 2.15pm kick-off on Saturday.
What are the fixtures and results?
Saturday February 6th - Italy 10 France 50, Rome
Saturday February 6th - England 6 Scotland 11, London
Sunday February 7th - Wales 21 Ireland 16, Cardiff
Saturday February 13th - England 41 Italy 18, London (2.15pm)
Saturday February 13th - Scotland 24 Wales 25, Edinburgh (4.45pm)
Sunday February 14th - Ireland 13 France 15, Dublin (3pm)
Saturday February 27th - Italy v Ireland, Rome (2.15pm)
Saturday February 27th - Wales v England, Cardiff (4.45pm)
Sunday February 28th - France P-P Scotland, Paris (3pm)
Saturday March 13th - Italy v Wales, Rome (2.15pm)
Saturday March 13th - England v France, London (4.45pm)
Sunday March 14th - Scotland v Ireland, Edinburgh (3pm)
Saturday March 20th - Scotland v Italy, Edinburgh (2.15pm)
Saturday March 20th - Ireland v England, Dublin (4.45pm)
Saturday March 20th - France v Wales, Paris (8pm)
How can I watch it?
Ireland’s clash with the Azzurri will be shown on Virgin Media One (coverage starts 1pm), with ITV showing it in the UK (1.30pm). You can also follow it via the Irish Times liveblog from around 1.45pm on Saturday afternoon.
Wales against England will be shown on Virgin Media One, BBC One, and again you can keep track of the action via our liveblog.
How is the table looking?
Scotland’s trip to France is scrapped
Sunday’s clash between Scotland and France in Paris was postponed on Thursday following a further Covid-19 case in the French camp, which meant their entire squad was forced into isolation.
The postponement puts the future of the tournament in doubt with no date set for the rescheduled fixture to be played.
If the fixture is moved back a week to the tournament’s second fallow weekend it could be a big blow for Scotland, who would be without more than 10 frontline players who are set to return to their clubs in the Premiership and Top 14.
It will also be a blow to Gregor Townsend who would have fancied his side to land a first Scottish win in Paris since 1999, against a French team whose preparations have been thrown into disarray.
What happened last time out?
Ireland were looking to bounce back from their opening round defeat to Wales when the faced France at the Aviva Stadium, but they were left to rue what might have been as a clinical French side ran out narrow 15-13 winners, emphasising their title credentials in the process.
England steadied the ship against Italy following their shock defeat to Scotland at Twickenham, with Eddie Jones’s side picking up a bonus point with a 41-18 win. However, the defending champions were disjointed at times and will have to improve again against Wales.
As for the Welsh, their recovery continued against Scotland at Murrayfield with a 25-24 win. They took advantage of Zander Fagerson’s red card to move within a game of the Triple Crown, with Louis Rees-Zammit’s stunning try paving the way for victory.
Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Jordan Larmour, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; David Kilcoyne, Rónan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Craig Casey, Billy Burns, Keith Earls.
The eternal city
In his column this week Gordon D’Arcy has suggested this year’s trip to Rome will be more revealing than most - will Ireland revert to type or can they give glimpses a new attacking plan is taking shape under the watch of Mike Catt?
He writes: “You know what an ‘Irish performance’ looks like; solid set piece, punishing carries in midfield by Henshaw and Ringrose - with one of them pulling up as a result - before some speed of thought by Murray or Sexton picks the lock.
“That might prove to be enough against Scotland and by then, who knows, England could have lost some big names as good old pride in the jersey, and a desire to play for each other, earns Ireland a third-place finish.
“But imagine if Ireland click into the Farrell era with coaching that makes you want to apologise to Catt and Easterby for the grief that has been sent their way of late.
“That is where the Team Of Us finds themselves entering Stadio Olimpico. This is a dangerous fixture, another crossroads if you will, where the team will either limp onto Edinburgh or put Gregor Townsend and Finn Russell on notice.”
29 and counting. . .
Italy are now without a Six Nations win since February 28th 2015 - a run of 29 matches. Ireland will sorely want to avoid being associated with that run coming to an end. . .
What are the bookies saying?
France remain favourites to lift the title in March.
No Grand Slam 2-5
Italy 9-1 Ireland 1-25 Draw 20-1 (Ireland -21 10-11)
Wales 7-4 England 2-5 Draw 20-1 (England -7 10-11)
Who’s on the whistle?
Italy v France - Mathieu Raynal (France)
Wales v England - Pascal Gauzere (France)
France v Scotland - Wayne Barnes (England)
How’s the weather looking?
There are high temperatures across Europe this week, with Rome expecting 18 degrees and sunshine on Saturday. 18 degrees!!! We can dream. . .
Can I go?
Not yet - but we’ll get there.