All you need to know ahead of Round 4 of the Guinness Six Nations

We’re past the halfway point of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations as we enter Round 4, with the business end of the Championship coming into sharp focus over the next couple of weeks.

We’re past the halfway point of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations as we enter Round 4, with the business end of the Championship coming into sharp focus over the next couple of weeks.

Round 4 sees two teams still in the Grand Slam hunt, with the rest of the pack lurking close behind, ready to capitalise on any slip-up and potentially steal the title away.

Saturday brings a fascinating double header as Wales head to Rome in search of a victory over Italy that would put them just one win away from a second Grand Slam in three years.

Then, France will look to keep their own clean sweep ambitions alive by beating England in a Championship match at Twickenham for the first time since 2005.

Sunday sees Scotland host Ireland with both teams needing other results to go their way but not necessarily out of the title race, although defeat at BT Murrayfield would likely end their chances.

Here’s all you need to know about Round 4’s action.



Having clocked up three wins from three, Wales can move within one step of a second Grand Slam in three years by beating Italy in Round 4’s opening fixture.

The Azzurri will be gunning for a first win over Wales in Rome since 2007 and despite being yet to taste victory in the 2021 Championship, their young squad are maturing with every game.

Having produced comeback wins over Ireland and Scotland in the opening two rounds, Wayne Pivac’s men triumphed in a thriller in Round 3, as England were dispatched 40-24 in Cardiff.

Pivac has made two changes to the starting XV that downed their fierce rivals last time out as Cory Hill – who came off the bench to score a try in that victory – will partner Alun Wyn Jones in the second row, while Gareth Davies starts at scrum-half in place of the injured Kieran Hardy.

Franco Smith makes five alterations to his Italy team, with Stephen Varney fit to start at No.9 after getting injured during the warm-up for the Round 3 defeat to Ireland, while winger Mattia Bellini, lock Niccolò Cannone, and props Danilo Fischetti and Giosuè Zilocchi also come in.

Italy: 15. Jacopo Trulla, 14. Mattia Bellini, 13. Juan Ignacio Brex, 12. Carlo Canna, 11. Montanna Ioane, 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Stephen Varney, 1. Danilo Fischetti, 2. Luca Bigi (c), 3. Giosuè Zilocchi, 4. Niccolò Cannone, 5. David Sisi, 6. Sebastian Negri, 7. Johan Meyer, 8. Michele Lamaro Replacements: 16. Oliviero Fabiani, 17. Andrea Lovotti, 18. Marco Riccioni, 19. Marco Lazzaroni, 20. Maxime Mbanda, 21. Marcello Violi, 22. Federico Mori, 23. Edoardo Padovani

Wales: 15. Liam Williams, 14. Louis Rees-Zammit, 13. George North, 12. Jonathan Davies, 11. Josh Adams, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Gareth Davies, 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Tomas Francis, 4. Cory Hill, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Josh Navidi, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Taulupe Faletau. Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17. Rhys Carre, 18. Leon Brown, 19. Jake Ball, 20. Aaron Wainwright, 21. Lloyd Williams, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Willis Halaholo

Not since 2005 have France won a Guinness Six Nations match at Twickenham but this is a Les Bleus side full of confidence and desperate to go one better than the second-placed finish they achieved in last year’s Championship.

With their Round 3 contest against Scotland postponed, France haven’t played a game since the 15-13 Round 2 triumph over Ireland but that game should buoy them as they ended a similarly unwelcome record of not having tasted Championship victory in Dublin for a decade.

Meanwhile, England have endured an up-and-down campaign – losing 11-6 to Scotland on home soil in Round 1 before bouncing back to impressively beat Italy but then being bettered by Wales’s late surge in Cardiff.

Full-back Max Malins earns his first Test start for Eddie Jones’s troops in Round 4 by replacing Elliot Daly, while Luke Cowan-Dickie comes in for Jamie George at hooker and Charlie Ewels is preferred to Jonny Hill in the second row.

With France looking to move a step closer to a first Grand Slam since 2010, Fabien Galthié has made four changes to his team – Virimi Vakatawa has recovered from injury to start in the centres, Teddy Thomas replaces the injured Gabin Villière out wide and Romain Taofifenua and Dylan Cretin start in the second row and back row respectively.

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

France: 15. Brice Dulin, 14. Teddy Thomas, 13. Virimi Vakatawa, 12. Gaël Fickou, 11. Damian Penaud, 10. Matthieu Jalibert, 9. Antoine Dupont, 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Julien Marchand, 3. Mohamed Haouas, 4. Romain Taofifenua, 5. Paul Willemse, 6. Dylan Cretin, 7. Charles Ollivon, 8. Grégory Alldritt Replacements: 16. Camille Chat, 17. Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19. Cyril Cazeaux, 20. Cameron Woki, 21. Anthony Jelonch, 22. Baptiste Serin, 23. Romain Ntamack


Round 4 concludes with Scotland welcoming Ireland to Edinburgh as both sides look to notch a second win of the Championship.

The postponement of their Round 3 clash with France means Scotland have completed just two games and will be raring to go after that extended layoff, eager to start correcting a recent record of just one win in their last ten Test matches against Ireland.

However, having ended their Twickenham hoodoo against England in Round 1 and lost to Wales by just a single point the following week, Gregor Townsend has a squad in form and more than capable of beating any opposition.

Ireland’s Championship got off to a slow start with defeats to Wales and France but a convincing 48-10 victory in Rome last time out will have done plenty to restore confidence.

Claiming victory at BT Murrayfield would solidify the position of Andy Farrell’s men in the top three of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations table and set them up nicely for an intriguing Super Saturday contest against England.

It could well be an open game in Edinburgh in Round 4, with Scotland (28) and Ireland (25) two of the three teams to average 25+ tackle breaks in the Guinness Six Nations this year.

Scotland: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. George Turner, 3. WP Nel, 4. Scott Cummings, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Matt Fagerson Replacements: 16. David Cherry, 17. Jamie Bhatti, 18. Simon Berghan, 19. Grant Gilchrist, 20. Nick Haining, 21. Scott Steele, 22. Huw Jones, 23. Darcy Graham

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