Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland - Kick-off time, TV details, team news and more

Andy Farrell’s side travel to Murrayfield as they look to build on victory over Italy

James Ryan is unbeaten in five matches against Scotland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

James Ryan is unbeaten in five matches against Scotland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

The Six Nations returns this weekend after a two-week hiatus, with the Championship approaching its final two rounds of fixtures.

And it is Wales who are in the driving seat for the title - they currently top the table with three wins from three and have the Grand Slam in their crosshairs.

Also unbeaten are France. Fabien Galthie’s side have won both of their fixtures but are a game behind after a Covid-19 outbreak saw their clash with Scotland postponed.

For Ireland, they can still technically be crowned champions but it would take an improbable string of results - including favours off Italy - for it to happen.

Andy Farrell’s side steadied the ship with a rout of the Azzurri in round three but will need to beat Scotland and England in their final two games to stop their campaign being classed as a disappointment.

Ireland celebrate after Will Connors’ second try against Italy. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Ireland celebrate after Will Connors’ second try against Italy. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

This weekend they travel to take on the Scots at Murrayfield, with Gregor Townsend’s side champing at the bit as they bid to beat their visitors for the first time in six attempts.

As well as Wales’s trip to Italy, England also welcome France to Twickenham for Le Crunch as they bid to arrest their own downturn in fortunes.

The games will come thick and fast over the next two weekends - blink and you’ll miss it. Here is everything you need to know as the Six Nations endgame approaches.

What is it?

The penultimate round of the 2021 Six Nations, including Ireland’s trip to play Scotland in Edinburgh.

When is it?

It’s another Sunday session for Ireland supporters - they kick off at 3pm on Sunday March 14th.

What are the fixtures and results?

Round one
Saturday February 6th - Italy 10 France 50, Rome
Saturday February 6th - England 6 Scotland 11, London
Sunday February 7th - Wales 21 Ireland 16, Cardiff

Round two
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)

Round three
Saturday February 27th - Italy 10 Ireland 48, Rome (2.15pm)
Saturday February 27th - Wales 40 England 24, Cardiff (4.45pm)
Sunday February 28th - France P-P Scotland, Paris (3pm)

Round four
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)

Round five
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)

Wales celebrate their Triple Crown victory after they beat England in Cardiff. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/EPA
Wales celebrate their Triple Crown victory after they beat England in Cardiff. Photograph: Rebecca Naden/EPA

How can I watch it?

You can see Saturday’s action - Italy versus Wales and England against France - back-to-back on Virgin Media One (coverage starts 1.30pm), and on ITV. Ireland’s clash with Scotland on Sunday will also be shown on Virgin Media One (2pm) in Ireland, and on BBC 1 in the UK.

And, as ever, you can follow all of the action via the Irish Times liveblog, which will be up and running around 30 minutes before kick-off.

How is the table looking?

What happened last time out?

Ireland headed to Rome knowing a convincing victory was the minimum requirement after opening defeats to Wales and France. And they delivered, running out 41-18 winners at Stadio Olimpico. Johnny Sexton impressed with a complete performance, Will Connors starred in the backrow and Craig Casey and Ryan Baird delivered a glimpse of the future off the bench. There was a caveat to Ireland’s win however, with Italy well and truly in the doldrums.

Wales meanwhile consigned England to a second defeat of the Championship, as they ran out 40-24 winners in Cardiff. Pivac’s side were savvy and streetwise, taking advantage of some interesting refereeing decisions to take a 24-14 lead early in the second-half. England recovered to make it 24-24 but they were blitzed in the final quarter as their hosts secured a record, bonus-point victory at the Millennium Stadium.

The third fixture of the weekend - between France and Scotland - was postponed due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the French squad. A new date for the fixture is yet to be decided.

Team news

Andy Farrell has retained Jamison Gibson-Park at nine, with the fit-again Conor Murray among the replacements. Rob Herring also replaces Rónan Kelleher at hooker, with Cian Healy and Keith Earls bringing some extra experience to the starting XV.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Robbie Henshaw, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan; Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander. Replacements: Rónan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Billy Burns, Jordan Larmour.

As for Scotland, Gregor Townsend has made four changes, with backrow star Jamie Ritchie returning to the side. WP Nel comes in for the suspended Zander Fagerson, with Sam Johnson and Sean Maitland also back in the side.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe; Finn Russell, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, George Turner, WP Nel; Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson. Replacements: David Cherry, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Grant Gilchrist, Nick Haining, Scott Steele, Huw Jones, Darcy Graham.

Stuart Hogg will pose a big test for Ireland on Sunday. Photograph: Craig Watson
Stuart Hogg will pose a big test for Ireland on Sunday. Photograph: Craig Watson

The power of inertia

There is a lot riding on Sunday’s game for both sides and their coaches - but it is Farrell whose position looks to be more vulnerable in defeat.

And as Gordon D’Arcy writes in his column this week, Ireland’s current approach isn’t working - particularly in attack.

He writes: “It is hard to put a finger on what is wrong with Ireland at the moment. It could be the players, it could be the coaches, it could be a combination of both, but there is a problem that keeps being explained away as under-performance.

“Unlike England, there is no quick fix. If Maro and friends halve their penalty count they will probably win the next two matches in Paris and Dublin.

“If only it was that simple for Farrell.

“Never underestimate the power of inertia. It appears to have climbed into the Carton House psyche. Plenty of this group are new to the international scene, but plenty of them have experienced the agony of best laid plans unravelling with slow, painful inevitability.”

The power of five

Scotland’s last victory over Ireland came in February 2017, with the Irish winning the last five encounters between the sides. This run has coincided with James Ryan’s introduction at international level, with the lock yet to taste defeat against the Scots.

However, with Scotland on the upgrade, Ryan is well aware of the threat they will pose on Sunday: “They’re a very strong side who will be very, very motivated playing in Murrayfield.

“I think they’ve shown how far they’ve come, even since the Autumn, in the campaign so far and I think they’re a very dangerous team.

“You look at their back three, Van Der Merwe, Darcy Graham, Stuart Hogg in terms of attacking threats they’re as probably as dangerous a back three you’ll come across in the tournament so our defence will be massive.”

Honours even

While recent history tips this rivalry in Ireland’s favour, the two sides have been remarkably well matched throughout history. Indeed, out of 137 meetings both sides have won 66 apiece, with five draws. Tight.

Ireland will run out at an empty Murrayfield on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Ireland will run out at an empty Murrayfield on Sunday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

What are the bookies saying?

Wales have now edged into favouritism for the title.

Championship
Wales 5-6
France 11-8
Scotland 14-1
Ireland 100-1
England 100-1

Grand Slam
Wales 9-4
France 3-1

Match betting
Italy 14-1 Wales 1-50 Draw 33-1 (Wales -25 10-11)
England 8-11 France Evens Draw 20-1 (England -1.5 10-11)
Scotland Evens Ireland 8-11 Draw 20-1 (Ireland -0.5 4-5)

Who’s on the whistle?

Italy v Wales - Andrew Brace (Ireland)
England v France - Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Scotland v Ireland - Romaine Poite (France)

How’s the weather looking?

After a wet few days things are set to clear up in Edinburgh by Sunday, with temperatures of aorund seven degrees.

Can I go?

We’re all still armchair fans.

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