Source: ©INPHO/Giuseppe Fama

Super Saturday Line-ups

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Wales v Italy, Principality Stadium, Cardiff; KO 12.15
Ireland v Scotland, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast; KO 14.30
France v England, Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux; KO 16.45

All times BST

The six teams are listed below.

On a momentous weekend of women’s rugby pride of place must go to Lucia Gai, who is looking forward to her 100th cap. This places her alongside the unforgettable Sara Barattin, the only two Azzurre to reach that goal. Her prize is a specially inscribed white cap.

While hectic discussion rages about the competitiveness of the Six Nations, the coming of WXV has added high tension to proceedings. There are no certainties about Saturday’s three games.

With due apologies to France and England, the real crunches come with the teams in positions 3-5. All three have a chance of gaining that all-important third spot, which opens up new horizons in the second edition of WXV1. None of them has been used to extensive touring (Scotland the best off), so a chance to get to Canada and play against the biggest beasts in the jungle is enticing.

Scotland, Italy and Ireland know the inherent dangers merely by looking at the team placed below them. Cymru hoped to gain a heap of profit from their trip to New Zealand last year; events have turned out very differently.

Tensions will run high in Belfast and Cardiff; results are almost impossible to predict with confidence. This is how things stand at present:

Table                        W      L      Pts

England                   4        0        20
France                      4       0         19
Scotland                  2        2          8
Italy                          1        3          6
Ireland                     1        3          6
Wales                       0        4          1

Scotland’s 2-point lead may prove vital for them, as they have to play away in Belfast. One pertinent stat: they have won eight of their last ten. Somebody once said, ‘winning becomes a habit.’ Against that optimism, the last time they finished third was in 2005.

Ireland have to recover from the towsing they received at Twickenham. Scott Bemand had the experience to know how to prepare his team for poking their head into that lion’s den and to set them up for this final challenge. They have Sam Monaghan back in harness.

On paper Italy have the easiest task of winning, taking on the prospective wooden-spoonists in Cardiff. In an attempt to put some perspective on Wales’ position, let’s just say: if the women don’t manage to beat the Azzurre by a wide margin, they will be matching the men’s team. Welsh rugby in general is in the toils.

Teams (in order of appearance):


15 Jenny Hesketh 14 Lisa Neumann 13 Hannah Jones (captain) 12 Hannah Bluck 11 Carys Cox 10 Lleucu George 9 Keira Bevan 1 Gwenllian Pyrs 2 Carys Phillips 3 Sisilia Tuipulotu 4 Natalia John 5 Abbie Fleming 6 Alisha Butchers 7 Alex Callender 8 Georgia Evans

16 Kelsey Jones 17 Abbey Constable 18 Donna Rose 19 Kate Williams 20 Gwennan Hopkins 21 Sian Jones 22 Niamh Terry 23 Nel Metcalfe

Jasmine Joyce and Kayleigh Powell return to GB 7s (why any clash in the first place?), but Kelsey Jones and Nel Metcalfe make timely returns from injury. Three players, Kerin Lake, Bethan Lewis and Mollie Wilkinson share the opposite fate.

The Welsh are by far the most desperate for a win.


15 Beatrice Capomaggi 14 Aura Muzzo 13 Alyssa D’Incà 12 Beatrice Rigoni 11 Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi 10 Emma Stevanin 9 Sofia Stefan 1 Silvia Turani 2 Vittoria Vecchini 3 Sara Seye 4 Sara Tounesi 5 Giordana Duca 6 Ilaria Arrighetti 7 Francesca Sgorbini 8 Elisa Giordano (captain)

16 Laura Gurioli 17 Gaia Maris 18 Lucia Gai 19 Valeria Fedrighi 20 Isabella Locatelli 21 Beatrice Veronese 22 Veronica Madia 23 Francesca Granzotto

Emma Stevanin replaces Veronica Madia at 10; two players swap the 11 and 15 shirts. Nanni Raineri still won’t offer a starting place for the centurion. Let’s hope she doesn’t get forgotten in all the tension.


15 Méabh Deely 14 Katie Corrigan 13 Eve Higgins 12 Enya Breen 11 Béibhinn Parsons 10 Dannah O’Brien 9 Aoibheann Reilly 1 Linda Djougang 2 Neve Jones 3 Christy Haney 4 Dorothy Wall 5 Sam Monaghan (co-captain) 6 Aoife Wafer 7 Edel McMahon (co-captain) 8 Brittany Hogan

16 Clíodhna Moloney 17 Niamh O’Dowd 18 Sadhbh McGrath 19 Fiona Tuite 20 Shannon Ikahihifo 21 Molly Scuffil-McCabe 22 Aoife Dalton 23 *Katie Heffernan

*uncapped player

Scott Bemand makes three changes. I fear it’s no surprise seeing Lauren Delany make way for Méabh Deely at the back. Enya Breen takes the 12 shirt, and the best news is the return of Sam Monaghan.

The one uncapped player is the experienced 7s player, Katie Heffernan.


15 Meryl Smith 14 Coreen Grant 13 Emma Orr 12 Lisa Thomson 11 Francesca McGhie 10 Helen Nelson 9 Caity Mattinson 1 Molly Wright 2 Lana Skeldon 3 Christine Belisle 4 Emma Wassell 5 Louise McMillan 6 Rachel Malcolm (captain) 7 Alex Stewart 8 Evie Gallagher

16 Elis Martin 17 Leah Bartlett 18 Elliann Clarke 19 Eva Donaldson 20 Rachel McLachlan 21 Mairi McDonald 22 *Cieron Bell 23 *Nicole Flynn


Scotland’s strengths are shown as Chloe Rollie is banned and Rhona Lloyd returns to GB 7s: Bryan Easson can revert to a back-three of Smith-Grant-McGhie. But the rare inclusion of two debutants on the bench for the last round points in a different direction.

The team will be grateful to see Emma Wassell back, after the sad passing of her mother.


15 Emilie Boulard 14 Joanna Grisez 13 Nassira Konde 12 Gabrielle Vernier 11 Marine Ménager 10 Lina Queyroi 9 Pauline Bourdon Sansus 1 Annaëlle Deshaye 2 Agathe Sochat 3 Assia Khalfaoui 4 Manae Feleu (captain) 5 Madoussou Fall 6 Charlotte Escudero 7 Gaëlle Hermet 8 Romane Ménager

16 Elisa Riffonneau 17 Ambre Mwayembe 18 Clara Joyeux 19 Emeline Gros 20 Teani Feleu 21 Alex Chambon 22 Anne-Cécile Ciofani 23 Chloë Jacquet

The starting XV looks as strong as you could wish it. Fall, Hermet, Konde and Marine Ménager return. Forwards are restored to their more familar positions. The three 7s stars are retained but only Grisez starts. If the ball sticks in hands, England could be in trouble. That’s me, trying to be kind.


15 Ellie Kildunne 14 Abby Dow 13 Meg Jones 12 Tatyana Heard 11 Jess Breach 10 Holly Aitchison 9 Mo Hunt 1 Hannah Botterman 2 Amy Cokayne 3 Maud Muir 4 Zoe Aldcroft 5 Morwenna Talling Zoe Aldcroft 6 Sadia Kabeya 7 Marlie Packer (captain) Sadia Kabeya 8 Alex Matthews

16 Connie Powell 17 Mackenzie Carson 18 Kelsey Clifford 19 Abbie Ward 20 Maddie Feaunati 21 Lucy Packer 22 Emily Scarratt 23 Sydney Gregson

You might think John Mitchell is going for strength (aka playing safe).

It’s going to be (very?) wet in Bordeaux. That will spoil the Red Roses’ running game, but can les Bleues possibly match their kicking game as well? No.

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