Following a rest week, the Women's Six Nations returns with England heading into round three top of the table with a maximum 10 points from 10. The Red Roses will look to maintain their perfect record when they travel to Cardiff Arms Park to play Wales on Sunday.
The opening game of the weekend will see Italy welcome Ireland to Parma as the hosts look to stay unbeaten in the 2019 Championship, while bottom-of-the-table Scotland head to Lille’s Le Stadium Villeneuve d’Acsq to face 2018 champions France in the later of the two Saturday kick-offs.
WOMEN'S SIX NATIONS
Italy (7) v Ireland (8)
Azzurre coach Andrea di Giandomenico has made just one change to his squad for the round three encounter in Parma. Back-row Francesca Sgorbini, aged just 18, is the only new face, coming in for Elena Serilli to win her first cap.
His Ireland counterpart Adam Griggs has also made just one change to the team that overcame Scotland 22-5 in Glasgow a fortnight ago, Kathryn Dane coming in at scrum-half. Ailsa Hughes moves to the bench and joins Lindsay Peat and Laura Sheehan, who are named in the squad for the first time this year.
- Italy are unbeaten in their last four games at home
- Ireland ended a five-game losing run with their 22-5 win away to Scotland in round two
- Italy won the first-ever meeting between the teams in 1997 (13-5) but have failed to win in 15 attempts since
- Italy have only conceded one try and 10 points this season, the lowest in the competition
- Italy cannot climb any higher than their present position of seventh
- Ireland will be the higher ranked of the two teams if they win, with Italy possibly dropping as many as two places to ninth depending on the result of the Wales v England game
- Ireland will drop below Spain to 10th if they are beaten by more than 15 points and Las Leonas beat Russia
FULL STORY | Scotland Women will have four new additions to the starting line-up for their third @Womens6Nations fixture against France on Saturday.— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) 21 February 2019
Le Stadium (Nord Lille Metropole)
France (3) v Scotland (12)
France have reacted to the round two loss to England by making five changes for the match in Lille. Emma Coudert takes on the fly-half responsibilities, while Doriane Constanty slots in at full-back in place of Caroline Boujard. In the pack, Dhia Maylis Traoré replaces Lise Arricastre at loose-head, while Audrey Forlani and Coumba Diallo come into the side at five and seven, replacing Lenaïg Corson and Céline Ferer respectively.
Scotland welcome back experienced number eight Jade Konkel from injury in a team showing five changes. Konkel will win her 34th cap since making her debut back in 2013. Sarah Bonar moves from number eight to blindside flanker to replace the injured Rachel Malcolm. The other change in the forwards sees Nicola Howat step off the bench and into the second row. Sarah Law has also been promoted from the bench, while the only other change in the backs is Rhona Lloyd for Liz Musgrove.
- France are bidding for their 50th win in the history of the Women's Six Nations
- France are on a nine-game winning streak against Scotland
- Scotland have beaten France four times in 25 previous attempts, the last in February 2010
- Scotland are on a six-game losing run
- The round two 41-26 loss to England was the most points Les Bleues have conceded since shipping 45 to New Zealand at WRWC 2010
- France cannot take second spot off England no matter how well they win
- Scotland will move above South Africa and into 11th place in victory
- A loss by more than 15 points would see France replaced in third by Canada
Wales (9) v England (2)
Wales coach Rowland Phillips has made five changes for England’s visit to Cardiff Arms Park. Up front, 18-year-old flanker Alex Callender has been handed her first start after debuting against France in the opening round, and Mel Clay returns in the second row after recovering from a leg injury. They replace Manon Johnes and Natalia John. In the backs, 50-test veteran Elinor Snowsill will start at full-back, while Hannah Bluck and Jess Kavanagh line up at inside centre and on the left wing respectively.
England will field a much-changed line-up for the trip to Cardiff with second-row Abbie Scott captaining the side in place of regular skipper and number eight Sarah Hunter, who is named on the bench. Poppy Cleal shifts from the blindside to fill the vacant number eight spot. Elsewhere in the forwards, Amy Cokayne is handed a first start in this year's Six Nations at hooker and Marlie Packer and Sarah Beckett pack down at openside and blindside respectively. A new-look midfield consists of Rachael Burford and Zoe Harrison and, inside them, Natasha Hunt gets her first of the 2019 Championship alongside Katy Daley-Mclean. Abby Dow is another new addition at 14 with Jess Breach switching to the left wing.
"No-one would know there were two of us until after the game."— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 21, 2019
Meet @Poppy_G_C and @BryonyCleall, the identical twin sisters tearing it up for @SaracensWomen and the #RedRoses: https://t.co/D9oemFBs3o#WearTheRose pic.twitter.com/YnGi22yRu3
- Wales have failed to score a try in their last two outings against England
- Wales have yet to score a try in this season's Championship and have only mustered six points. England have scored the most tries with 15
- England have won eight of the last nine meetings. Wales only win in that time was 13-0 at St Helens in 2015
- Katy Daley-Mclean is this season's top points scorer in the Six Nations with 22 points
- Jess Breach is joint top try-scorer with three tries
- Wales will climb two places and move above Italy and Ireland if they win by more than 15 points
- England cannot fall from second place but the gap between themselves and France will be down to just 0.18 rating points if they are badly beaten and Les Bleues beat Scotland by more than 15
- It is not possible for England to close the gap between themselves and top-ranked New Zealand as the Red Roses will not pick up any rating points for victory
RUGBY EUROPE WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
Spain (10) v Russia (20)
Las Leonas coach José Antonio Barrio has opted to make four changes to the starting line-up that took on and beat Scotland 29-24 in their last fixture a month ago. The only change to the pack comes in the second row where Lourdas Almeda is chosen in place of Mayka Brust. In the backs, Lucia Diaz replaces Anne Fernandez de Corres at scrum-half, Maria Ahis steps into midfield at inside centre and Paula Requena lines up on the right wing.
Russia's line-up does not include any of the players that last represented their country at this level in 2016. However, both centres Diana Glushenko and Marila Perestiak and the outside backs, wings Iana Danilova and Luidmila Artamonova and full-back Alina Arterchuk, all have international experience having featured on the HSBC Women's World Rugby Sevens Series.
- Spain are on a five-game winning run in tests dating back to August 2017
- Spain have not lost a home test since they were defeated 37-3 by France in 2014
- Russia are playing their first women's international in nearly two-and-a-half years. They beat Belgium 74-5 in their last test in October 2016
- The only previous meeting between the sides in April 2007 ended in a 54-3 win for Spain
- Spain will just about hang onto their place in the world’s top 10 if they are beaten
- Any form of victory will be enough to lift Russia up two places to 18th
The World Rugby Women's Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 GMT.
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