All you need to know ahead of Super Saturday

Antoine Dupont and James Ryan lead their teams out into the Stade de France past the Guinness Six Nations trophy 12/2/2022
Super Saturday has arrived and two teams remain in the hunt for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations title as Rugby’s Greatest Championship reaches its thrilling crescendo.

Super Saturday has arrived and two teams remain in the hunt for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations title as Rugby’s Greatest Championship reaches its thrilling crescendo.

Unbeaten France are the frontrunners after winning all four of their games so far, with only England standing in their way of a first title and Grand Slam since 2010.

Ireland can also still win the Championship if Andy Farrell’s side can defeat Scotland in Dublin before hoping that Eddie Jones’ men do them a favour in the late game in Paris.

Meanwhile, the opening game of Round 5 sees 2021 champions Wales conclude their title defence against an Italy side searching for their first win of this year’s campaign.

And with so much still to play for in what promises to be a blockbuster conclusion to the Championship, here’s everything you need to know ahead of Super Saturday.

WALES v ITALY – Saturday 19 March 2022, Principality Stadium – KO 2.15pm

This year’s edition of the Guinness Six Nations has not gone to plan for either Wales or Italy but there is an opportunity for whoever is triumphant in Cardiff to finish on a high.

And there is no shortage of storylines to be played out at Principality Stadium, starting with the return of Wales talisman Alun Wyn Jones for his 150th cap for his country.

The world’s most-capped rugby union player has missed the rest of the Championship with a shoulder injury but is back in the second row after earning a surprise late recall.

He is not the only player celebrating a milestone as the man who replaced him as captain, Dan Biggar, will lead out Wales on his 100th appearance for his country.

Elsewhere, Dewi Lake makes his first start for Wales at hooker while scrum-half Gareth Davies and inside centre Willis Halaholo come in for their first games among several changes.

Italy, on the other hand, start with a much more settled team as Kieran Crowley has only made two alterations to the side that went down 33-22 to Scotland last time out.

Exciting young full-back Ange Capuozzo is handed his first start after his brace from the bench while Marco Fuser returns to take his place in the second row alongside Federico Ruzza.

Wales have won each of their last 14 Championship matches against Italy, last losing to the Azzurri back in 2007 at the Stadio Flaminio – having also lost their in 2003.

Wales: 15. Johnny McNicholl, 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 13. Owen Watkin, 12. Uilisi Halaholo, 11. Josh Adams, 10. Dan Biggar (c), 9. Gareth Davies; 1. Gareth Thomas, 2. Dewi Lake, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. Adam Beard, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Seb Davies, 7. Josh Navidi, 8. Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: 16. Bradley Roberts, 17. Wyn Jones, 18. Leon Brown, 19. Will Rowlands, 20. Ross Moriarty, 21. Kieran Hardy, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Nick Tompkins

Italy: 15. Ange Capuozzo, 14. Edoardo Padovani, 13. Juan Ignacio Brex, 12. Leonardo Marin, 11. Montanna Ioane, 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Callum Braley, 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Giacomo Nicotera, 3. Pietro Ceccarelli, 4. Marco Fuser, 5. Federico Ruzza, 6. Giovanni Pettinelli, 7. Michele Lamaro (c), 8. Toa Halafihi

Replacements: 16. Luca Bigi, 17. Ivan Nemer, 18. Giosuè Zilocchi, 19. David Sisi, 20. Niccolò Cannone, 21. Braam Steyn, 22. Alessandro Fusco, 23. Marco Zanon

IRELAND v SCOTLAND – Saturday 19 March 2022, Aviva Stadium – KO 4.45pm

Focus turns to Dublin for Super Saturday’s second game as Ireland attempt to pile the pressure on Championship leaders France by beating Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland currently trail France by two points so they know that really only a win against Gregor Townsend’s visitors will do if they are to wrestle the title away from Les Bleus.

While a draw or a defeat with two losing bonus points could also be enough due to Ireland’s healthy points difference should France fail to take anything against England, Farrell and his men in green will not want to take that chance.

There are three changes to the Ireland team that started the 32-15 win over England at Twickenham, including the return of Mack Hansen on the wing for the injured Andrew Conway.

Jack Conan also comes in at No.8 following his excellent cameo off the bench last weekend, with Caelan Doris moving to blindside to replace Peter O’Mahony, while Iain Henderson replaces James Ryan in the final alteration.

For Scotland, a Championship that started with victory over England to retain The Calcutta Cup has been punctured by defeats to Wales and France to leave them in fourth.

That is a position they have occupied for the last two Guinness Six Nations and Townsend will be keen to show his side have progressed by leapfrogging England with a win.

And the Scotland head coach has sprung a surprise in his team announcement, selecting Blair Kinghorn at fly-half in place of Finn Russell in one of two changes.

The other change sees Jonny Gray return to the second row, replacing Sam Skinner, as Scotland attempt to win their first game against Ireland in Dublin since 2010’s triumph at Croke Park.

Ireland: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Mack Hansen, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton, 9. Jamison Gibson Park; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Dan Sheehan, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Tadhg Beirne, 5. Iain Henderson, 6. Caelan Doris, 7. Josh van der Flier 8. Jack Conan

Replacements: 16. Rob Herring, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. Kieran Treadwell, 20. Peter O’Mahony, 21. Conor Murray, 22. Joey Carbery, 23. Robbie Henshaw

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Kyle Steyn, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Ali Price; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 George Turner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 4 Jonny Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 6 Rory Darge, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Matt Fagerson

Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Allan Dell, 18 WP Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Josh Bayliss, 21 Ben White, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Mark Bennett

FRANCE v ENGLAND – Saturday 19 March 2022, Stade de France – KO 8pm

Last but not least, France welcome England to Paris for Le Crunch as Fabien Galthie’s men attempt to overcome the final hurdle between them and Grand Slam success.

Les Bleus edged past Wales 13-9 to keep their clean sweep hopes alive last time out and are now within one game of a first Guinness Six Nations title and Grand Slam since 2010.

The title could already be within their grasp come kick-off depending on the result in Dublin but the hosts will be determined to make it five wins from five regardless.

France have only made one change for the visit of England, with Damian Penaud returning on the wing in place of Yoram Moefana after missing out in Cardiff due to testing positive for Covid.

There is also one change on the bench where Romain Taofifenua, who like Penaud, had tested positive for Covid, replaces Matthis Lebel as the hosts revert to a 6-2 split.

England go into the contest with only third place to play for after their 14-men lost to Ireland last weekend but they would love nothing more than to spoil the French party in Paris.

Jones has made five changes to his starting line-up, with Nick Isiekwe and Sam Underhill coming in for Charlie Ewels (suspension) and Tom Curry (injury) in two enforced alterations.

Elsewhere, Will Stuart is preferred to Kyle Sinckler, Ben Youngs starts at scrum-half and George Furbank comes in at full-back at the scene of his debut in the 2020 Championship.

Furbank’s inclusion sees Freddie Steward shift to the wing while on the bench, Nic Dolly could make his first appearance of the Championship after being included in the replacements.

And the omens are good for France as only one of the last nine Championship fixtures between these sides have been won by the away side on the day – a 31-21 win for England back in 2016.

France: 15. Melvyn Jaminet, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gaël Fickou, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Gabin Villière, 10. Romain Ntamack. 9. Antoine Dupont (c), 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Julien Marchand, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Cameron Woki, 5. Paul Willemse, 6. François Cros, 7. Anthony Jelonch, 8. Grégory Alldritt.

Replacements: 16. Peato Mauvaka, 17. Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18. Mohamed Haouas, 19. Romain Taofifenua, 20. Thibaud Flament, 21. Dylan Cretin, 22. Maxime Lucu, 23. Thomas Ramos

England: 15. George Furbank, 14. Freddie Steward, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Henry Slade 11. Jack Nowell, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Ellis Genge, 2. Jamie George, 3. Will Stuart, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. Nick Isiekwe, 6. Courtney Lawes, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Sam Simmonds

Replacements: 16. Nic Dolly, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Ollie Chessum, 20. Alex Dombrandt, 21. Harry Randall, 22. George Ford, 23. Elliot Daly