Guinness Six Nations teams: Round 4

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Spring is finally here and with it comes the final sprint to the finish line in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

Spring is finally here and with it comes the final sprint to the finish line in the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

With two rounds to go, Wales top the table with three wins from three, while France also have Grand Slam ambitions with two victories from two.

Wales visit Italy early on Saturday afternoon before England host France at Twickenham in the last edition of their Le Crunch rivalry.

Then, on Sunday, Scotland host Ireland at BT Murrayfield.

With each nation striving for Guinness Six Nations glory, here’s how this weekend’s three contesting teams will line up from the start.


Stephen Varney is fit to start at scrum-half as his return is one of five changes Italy have made. Varney was scheduled to start at No.9 for the third consecutive game when the Azzurri faced Ireland in Round 3 of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations but an injury sustained during the warm-up ruled him out.

However, the Gloucester Rugby star has recovered to re-form his exciting half-back partnership with Paolo Garbisi in Rome this weekend, while winger Mattia Bellini comes in for Luca Sperandio – ruled out for the rest of the Championship with a head injury – as the only other alteration to the back line.

That means there are three changes in the pack, with two of those in the front row – Danilo Fischetti and Giosuè Zilocchi forming an all-new prop pairing either side of skipper Luca Bigi at the Stadio Olimpico.

Niccolò Cannone, who made his international debut against Wales in the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, is preferred to Marco Lazzaroni at lock, while an unchanged trio of Seb Negri, Johan Meyer and Michele Lamaro will be tasked with keeping Wales’s talented back row quiet.

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


Wayne Pivac has made two changes to the Wales starting XV which defeated England for their trip to Rome to face Italy in Round 4 of the Guinness Six Nations.

Cory Hill came off the bench to score a try in the 40-24 win over the defending champions last time out and will partner captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second row, replacing Adam Beard.

Gareth Davies will also start at the Stadio Olimpico at scrum-half alongside Dan Biggar, taking the place of Kieran Hardy who will miss the rest of the Championship with a hamstring injury.

Wales: Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Jonathan Davies, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Josh Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Lloyd Williams, Callum Sheedy, Willis Halaholo


Max Malins will make his first Test start for England on Saturday, in one of three changes made by Eddie Jones for the visit of France.

Malins has six caps but all of them have come from the bench and he replaces Elliot Daly in the starting XV at full-back.

The other changes see Luke Cowan-Dickie come in for Jamie George at hooker, while Charlie Ewels starts ahead of Jonny Hill in the second row.

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


Virimi Vakatawa will make his return for France in the centres against England at Twickenham as one of four changes for Les Bleus.

The centre had missed the start of the Guinness Six Nations with a knee injury but made his return to action last weekend with Racing 92.

He comes in for Arthur Vincent, who was not available, while Teddy Thomas replaces the injured Gabin Villière on the wing.

Up front, lock Romain Taofifenua takes the place of Bernard Le Roux, who was ruled out this week, while Dylan Cretin is preferred to Anthony Jelonch in the back row.

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

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