Rugby evening headlines as Wales to name team two days early and Ireland star’s Six Nations ended by England incident

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Monday, March 14.

Wales to name team early

Wales will name their side to play Italy two days earlier than normal as Wayne Pivac decides whether to bring Alun Wyn Jones straight back into the starting XV.

The Welsh squad will reconvene at their Vale HQ tomorrow and will immediately be told the team, with a public announcement to follow at 2.30pm.

The normal practice is for the team to be named on a Thursday for a Saturday match, 48 hours before kick-off.

Jones is likely to feature in the 23 at least, although Dan Biggar will keep the captaincy.

Elsewhere, there could be recalls for Louis Rees-Zammit, with Pivac also weighing up whether to revisit the experiment of playing Josh Adams in the centre.

Read next:Win free tickets for Wales v Italy

Victim Ryan out of Scotland final

Ireland lock James Ryan will miss the Triple Crown match against Scotland in Dublin after the concussion he suffered in the victory over England on Saturday.

Ryan failed a HIA after being on the receiving end of a dangerous tackle by Charlie Ewels, which saw the England man sent off after just 82 seconds. You can read about that incident here.

And it has now been confirmed he can play no part against the Scots. Iain Henderson is likely to start alongside Tadhg Beirne this weekend.

Ulster trio Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune and Nick Timoney have returned to the squad having been released to play in Ulster’s United Rugby Championship win over Leinster last Saturday. Ryan Baird is missing with a back injury.

Willis closes in an amazing comeback

Jack Willis will be given the opportunity to train his way to a stunning England comeback in Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash with France in Paris.

Willis has been picked in an England squad for the first time since suffering a sickening knee injury when illegally rolled out of a ruck by Italy’s Sebastian Negri in the 2021 Championship.

The 25-year-old breakdown specialist had torn the MCL off the bone in two places, as well as sustaining extensive meniscus damage, and he only made his comeback for Wasps last month.

Now that Tom Curry has been ruled out against France after incurring a hamstring problem in the 32-15 defeat by Ireland that ended England’s title prospects, he has been told by Eddie Jones that he could be involved at the Stade de France.

The more likely option is that Sam Underhill is restored to the back row for his first appearance of the Six Nations having overcome his concussion issues, but Willis has been offered sight of the seven jersey by Jones.

“Jack is obviously an option but I’d need to see him train tomorrow (Tuesday). If he trains well tomorrow then he could be an option,” Jones said.

“He’s shown a lot of resilience and a lot of determination. I was really pleased watching him play against Northampton yesterday.

“We know he’s a player of great promise and he’s still only 25 years of age. To come back from such a difficult injury is a great testament to his resilience. I’m sure he’s going to add value to the squad.”

Farrell defends Irish scrum

Andy Farrell admits there will be a harsh review of Ireland’s stuttering win over 14-man England but insists he has no concerns about his side’s “world-class” scrum.

Ireland kept themselves in Guinness Six Nations title contention on Saturday evening by battling to a 32-15 bonus-point victory over depleted opponents at a raucous Twickenham.

Eddie Jones’ hosts played almost the entire game a man down following Charlie Ewels’ second-minute red card but, even with wing Jack Nowell filling in at flanker, they dominated the battle of the packs.

England’s scrum engineered six penalties, leaving Jones questioning why referee Mathieu Raynal did not penalise the visitors’ misfiring forwards more harshly by reaching for a yellow card.

Ireland head coach Farrell, who selected veteran loosehead Cian Healy and rookie hooker Dan Sheehan alongside tighthead Tadhg Furlong in his front row due to the injury absences of Andrew Porter and Ronan Kelleher, brushed off doubts about the set-piece.

“Look, I’m not concerned about it at all,” said the Englishman.

“We all know we’ve got a world-class scrum, we know the personnel we’ve got.

“It’s going to be great learning, isn’t it? For the likes of Dan and the rest of the pack, they were searching for some answers, asking the questions and I’m not sure if they got the answers or not.

“We’ll look at ourselves first and liaise with the right channels and make sure we get to the bottom of it.

“I think we all know that we’ve got a good scrum. England found a way and congratulations to them.”

New faces in Scotland squad

Murphy Walker and Jordan Edmunds have been handed their first Scotland call-ups.

Glasgow prop Walker and Scotland Sevens player Edmunds are joined by Fraser Brown and Scott Cummings in being added to the squad ahead of the weekend’s clash with Ireland.

Kiran McDonald, Glen Young and Duhan Van Der Merwe have returned to their clubs

Latest World Rugby Rankings

Wales and England have both fallen in the new World Rugby rankings table published today.

Wayne Pivac’s side have slipped back below Scotland to eighth after the 13-9 defeat against France on Friday night and the Scots’ win over Italy on Saturday.

England’s record 32-15 home defeat to Ireland, albeit with 14 men for almost the entirety of the match, sees them drop to fifth, behind the Irish. France maintain third place but will overtake the All Blacks in second if they beat England and secure a Grand Slam next Saturday.

It means Wales are set to finish the Six Nations as the eighth ranked team in the world next week, no matter what the result against Italy.

That’s because of the Italian’s low ranking of 14th, which means a home victory for Wales will make no dent in terms of rankings points. They are just one place and less than two rankings points ahead of Spain now, who qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup this weekend with victory over Portugal.

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