Six Nations: Round Two predictions and teams for 11 – 12 February 2023

Ireland battle France, England meet Italy and Scotland take on Wales in round two of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship.

The 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship rolls straight into its second round this weekend, with another flurry of three fixtures between the competing nations.

Saturday’s opener will be a tough act to follow, as last year’s champions France travel to play runners-up Ireland at the Aviva Stadium.

England must wait until Sunday as they attempt to kick start their campaign against dogged Italy at Twickenham, while Scotland’s meeting with Wales follows on from the Saturday showdown in Dublin.

Ireland vs France

It’s a little early to be talking about deciders in the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship.

But Ireland doing battle with France on Saturday has all the hallmarks of a clash that could set one of the teams up for a tilt at the grand slam come March.

Les Bleus did exactly that a year ago to end their long wait for the European rugby title and remain on course early on in this edition too, despite enduring an almighty scare in edging past minnows Italy 29-24 in round one.

It was much more straightforward on the road for the Irish.

Andy Farrell’s men defied their awkward Principality Stadium history to stroll to a 34-10 success over Warren Gatland’s Wales in Cardiff.

A point to prove, perhaps, has led coach Fabien Galthie to stick with an unchanged starting side to step out in the Emerald Isle.

Francois Cros and Baptiste Couilloud come into the reckoning among the replacements.

And if you think that’s a mark of consistency, check out the veteran Irish half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, with the former keeping his jersey partly thanks to the continued injury absence of Jamison Gibson-Park.

Hooker Dan Sheehan is also on the absentee list, paving the way for a return for Rob Herring in the front row.

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

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Tom O’Toole, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Craig Casey, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Bundee Aki.

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 Francois Cros, 21 Sekou Macalou, 22 Baptiste Couilloud, 23 Matthieu Jalibert.

Scotland vs Wales

Scotland and Wales collide for round two of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship on Saturday at Murrayfield.

The Edinburgh tussle pits two nations against each other off the back of contrasting fortunes in the opening round of matches a week ago.

It was ecstasy for the Scots at Twickenham, as the pipped auld enemy England to seal a hat-trick of Calcutta Cup successes, with wing Duhan van der Merwe the match winner for Gregor Townsend’s side.

Not so for the second coming of Warren Gatland in Cardiff.

The Kiwi coach watched on as his charges subsided to a 34-10 defeat against impressive Ireland, leaving them already needing points sharpish if they are to avoid a repeat of last season’s dismal campaign.

And he’s wielded the selection knife in brutal fashion for round two, excising Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric – all British & Irish Lions stars – from his forward pack.

Dafydd Jenkins, Christ Tshiunza and Tommy Reffell are all drafted in by Gatland, who has won a mighty 11 from 11 as Welsh coach against the Scots.

The only Scottish starting change comes in the considerable shape of Zander Fagerson, who adds some fresh heft to the front row in Edinburgh.

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 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.

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

Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 George North, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Jac Morgan, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Christ Tshiunza, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Dafydd Jenkins, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones.

Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Rhys Patchell, 23 Alex Cuthbert.

England vs Italy

Operation Try Again kicks in for England in round two of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship on Sunday, with tricky Italy the visitors to Twickenham.

Steve Borthwick kicked off life as successor to Eddie Jones with an error-strewn defeat at HQ against arch-rivals Scotland, who marauded back north of the border with a third Calcutta Cup win on the spin.

There was even more agony for the Italians on balance, who came a point closer than the Red Rose’s 23-29 loss in their gallant home defeat to France.

Building on last year’s victories over Wales and Australia, the Azzurri came mighty close to give themselves a real shot in the arm in their bid to clamber off the foot of the final Six Nations standings by the end of March.

England Starting XV: TBA

Replacements: TBA

Italy Starting XV: TBA

Replacements: TBA

Six Nations 2023: Predictions for 11 – 12 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.

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