Six Nations: Round One predictions and teams for 4 – 5 February 2023

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship kicks off with England vs Scotland, Wales vs Ireland and Italy vs France.

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship kicks off this weekend, with the first trio of fixtures played over Saturday and Sunday.

Reigning champions France put their grand slam record to the test when they go to rock bottom Italy on Sunday.

Saturday sees the Calcutta Cup contest between England and Scotland at Twickenham, which follows the meeting between Wales and Ireland at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Wales vs Ireland

The honour falls to Wales and Ireland to bring up the curtain on the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Last year’s bridesmaids in green are out to go one better than their second-placed finish behind France in the 2022 competition.

And it’s all change for the Welsh, who have returned to Kiwi coach Warren Gatland after a torrid campaign last time around, including the humiliation of a home defeat against wooden spoon regulars Italy.

Veteran Johnny Sexton goes around yet again as captain of Andy Farrell’s side, leading them out at the Principality Stadium.

Injury to Tadhg Furlong means Finlay Bealham makes his Six Nations debut in the front row.

Joe Hawkins also makes a tournament bow for the home side, pairing up with the wise old head of George North in the centres as Gatland plots a rise up the rankings.

Two big-name returnees were supposed to bolster the backline.

Dan Biggar, who missed much of 2022 through injury, is in, but but Leigh Halfpenny pulled up lame on the brink of his comeback following more than a year-and-a-half out of the picture.

Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 George North, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos William, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Jac Morgan, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gareth Thomas

Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Alex Cuthbert.

Ireland Starting XV: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jonathan Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.

Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Bundee Aki.

England vs Scotland

England kick off life without Eddie Jones in the 2023 Six Nations on Saturday with their Calcutta Cup clash against Scotland at Twickenham.

Steve Borthwick begins his reign at HQ in London, as the Red Rose seek to avenge their defeat of 12 months ago.

It’s a blend of old and new, too, as Jones’ former assistant keeps faith with Owen Farrell as captain, while the front row has a familiar feel in the form of Ellis Genge, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler.

Fresh blood arrives in a debut for Ollie Hassell-Collins, who finds a place on the opposite wing to the returning Max Malins.

It felt like a real case of what might have been last year for the Scots, who flattered to deceive after their famous opening round success at Murrayfield.

Coach Gregor Townsend sets out for better with Jamie Ritchie taking the captain’s armband.

South African duo Pierre Schoeman and WP Nel are the starting prop pairing, while Finn Russell is the fan favourite at fly-half.

England Starting XV: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Ben Curry, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge.

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Nick Isiekwe, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Anthony Watson.

Scotland Starting XV: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ben White, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Luke Crosbie, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.

Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 George Horne, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Chris Harris.

Italy vs France

It’s top versus bottom from the 2022 Six Nations rugby table in round one this Sunday, as France begin their title defence in Italy.

Les Bleus stormed to a grand slam success thanks to a perfect record last time around, finishing four points clear of second-placed Ireland.

No such luck for the Azzurri, although they did rise to pick up a joyous win against sorry Wales in Cardiff to add a lift of the spirits to their growing wooden spoon collection.

There’s a French debut on the wing as Ethan Dumortier dons the blue jersey for the first time.

The Italians are in good heart having also beaten Australia in the last year, as coach Kieran Crowley sends flank Michele Lamaro out as captain.

Italy Starting XV: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Tommaso Menoncello, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.

Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Edoardo Iachizzi, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Alessandro Fusco, 23 Edoardo Padovani.

France Starting XV: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Yoram Moefana, 11 Ethan Dumortier, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Uini Atonio, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.

Replacements: 16 Gaetan Barlot, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Thomas Lavault, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Nolan Le Garrec, 23 Matthieu Jalibert.

Six Nations 2023: Predictions for 4 – 5 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.

Chance of winning (%)Points margin
Wales23,4
Ireland76,610
Chance of winning (%)Points margin
England7810
Scotland22
Chance of winning (%)Points margin
Italy8,7
France91,319