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Six Nations: Round Three predictions and teams for 25 – 26 February 2023

Round three of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship pits Wales against England in Cardiff, while France host Scotland and Ireland go to Italy.

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship crosses the halfway mark following the first rest weekend, with another trio of barnstorming fixtures across Europe.

Early front runners Ireland and Scotland are both on the continent, with the men in green heading to Italy while the Scots go up against reigning champions France.

And there’s local pride at stake in Cardiff as Wales host old enemy England in round three.

Italy vs Ireland

Ireland hit the road in round three of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship, as they head south to face Italy.

Two wins from two have set up Andy Farrell’s side just nicely, with a sparkling victory over reigning champions France in Dublin backing up their opening round success away to struggling Wales.

The Azzurri came agonizingly close to shocking the French on the opening weekend, before subsiding to a Twickenham defeat against England two weeks ago.

Iain Henderson returns as one of six changes to Farrell’s starting line up, which will be captained by James Ryan.

Rookies Craig Casey and Ross Byrne are both included, as is Jack Conan at eighth man.

There are a further three changes for the home nation, with fly-half Paolo Garbisi restored to the number 10 jersey.

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

Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Edoardo Iachizzi, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Alessandro Fusco, 22 Luca Morisi, 23 Tommaso Allan

Ireland Starting XV: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Craig Casey, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Ronan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter.

Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Stuart McCloskey.

Wales vs England

There’s local pride as well as points to play for when Wales host England in the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Steve Borthwick’s Red Rose recovered from their third straight Calcutta Cup surrender to Scotland to pick off Italy with ease at Twickenham a fortnight ago.

And now they head down the M4 motorway to face a nation in turmoil.

Returning coach Warren Gatland has been forced to play peacemaker between a playing group threatening to strike and a Union scrabbling to retain its dignity.

Then there’s the small matter of them being pointless off the back of losses against Ireland and Scotland in the opening two rounds of this year’s tournament.

Anthony Watson is the only starting change for the English, as he makes a long-awaited comeback on the wing.

Courtney Lawes makes it as far as the bench on his return from injury, with captain Owen Farrell continuing his spell back at fly-half.

Gatland has chosen to throw Mason Grady into the storm for his debut at outside centre, while Louis Rees-Zammit comes in to complete a familiar back three alongside Josh Adams and full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

Wales Starting XV: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Louis Rees-Zammit, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Christ Tshiunza, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Gareth Thomas.

Replacements: 16 Bradley Roberts, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Nick Tompkins.

England Starting XV: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Jack Willis, 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 Courtney Lawes, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Henry Arundell.

France vs Scotland

A Sunday showdown in Paris rounds off round three of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship, as reigning champions France host Scotland.

It’s Gregor Townsend’s side with the upper hand, too, having won their opening two fixtures.

First auld enemy England were vanquished for the third time in a row to seal the Calcutta Cup, before they turned on the style at Murrayfield two weeks ago to do away with sorry Wales.

Nerves are already shredded for Les Bleus, who played their full part in an eye-popping contest in Dublin last time out, with hosts Ireland running out 32-19 victors.

They only just came through their opening tie away to underdogs Italy, too, with Fabian Galthie’s men already up against it in their battle to retain their Six Nations crown for a second year.

Galthie has hailed Mohamed Haouas into the front row following the ban dished out to Uini Atonio.

Hamish Watson makes a welcome return for the Scots, having spent an extended period on the sidelines following a concussion in the Autumn International clash with the All Blacks.

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 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.

Replacements: 16 Gaetan Barlot, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Francois Cros, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Matthieu Jalibert.

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 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.

Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 WP Nel, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Sam Skinner, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Ali Price, 23 Blair Kinghorn.

Six Nations 2023: Predictions for 25 – 26 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
Italy4,4
Ireland95,626
Chance of winning (%)Points margin
Wales39,3
England60,74
Chance of winning (%)Points margin
France71,68
Scotland28,4