The Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship is back for 2022 this weekend as the battle to be best in Europe resumes across the continent.
Ireland and Wales raise the curtain on this year’s event when they meet for the opening clash at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
Auld Enemies Scotland and England then collide for the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield on Saturday evening, before Paris hosts the fixture between France and Italy on Sunday.
Six Nations 2021: Predictions for 5 – 6 February
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team?s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
The predictions for each match follow below the short preview and team news for each individual Six Nations match this coming weekend.
Ireland vs Wales
Reigning Six Nations rugby champions Wales kick off the 2022 competition on Saturday with a trip to Dublin to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.
Wayne Pivac’s men mount their title defence against the side that finished third last time around, including a five-point defeat in an opening round reverse of this fixture in Cardiff.
All eyes are on Josh Adams, who moves to centre for the first time in a Welsh jersey, as Dan Biggar captains his country from fly-half.
Mack Hansen is in line for a debut on the wing for Andy Farrell’s home side, who are led into yet another campaign by veteran Johnny Sexton.
Ireland Starting XV: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O?Mahony, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 James Hume.
Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Josh Adams, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Louis Rees-Zammit, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ellis Jenkins, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Seb Davies, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Owen Watkin.
Scotland vs England
England are straight in at the Six Nations deep end as they head north to Edinburgh on Saturday to tackle Auld Enemy Scotland in a tantalising opening match.
The Red Rose were stunned at Twickenham this time last year, as the Scots left Twickenham with a famous 11-6 victory.
It’s one of the reasons coach Eddie Jones has identified his new-look side as underdogs in the Scottish capital.
Tom Curry takes the captaincy of the Red Rose after the double blow of losing Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes in the build up to the tournament opener.
Jonny Gray makes his first international appearance in nearly a year, giving home coach Gregor Townsend a boost in the locks.
Scotland Starting XV: 15 Stuart Hogg (captain), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 WP Nel, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Magnus Bradbury, 21 Ben White, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Sione Tuipulotu.
England Starting XV: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Joe Marchant, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Tom Curry (captain), 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Alex Dombrandt, 21 Harry Randall, 22 George Ford, 23 Jack Nowell.
France vs Italy
France begin their Six Nations rugby campaign on Sunday against competition whipping boys Italy in Paris.
It’s an opportunity for Les Bleus to make the perfect start as they bid to go one better than their dramatic runners-up finish behind Wales last year.
For their opponents, it looks like the grimly familiar case of damage limitation under New Zealand coach Kieran Crowley.
The French will be without coach Fabien Galthie, who has tested positive for Covid-19, while World Rugby Player of The Year Antoine Dupont leads the way from scrum-half.
Toa Halafihi makes his debut for the Azzurri as does Tommaso Menoncello, with Sergio Parisse, Jake Polledri and Johan Meyer among those missing out through injury.
France Starting XV: 15 Melvyn Jaminet, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Jonathan Danty, 12 Gael Fickou, 11 Gabin Villiere, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Dylan Cretin, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Cameron Woki, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 JeanBaptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Francois Cros, 21 Maxime Lucu, 22 Yoram Moefana, 23 Thomas Ramos.
Italy Starting XV: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Tommaso Menoncello, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Epalahame Faiva, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Leonardo Marin.