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2023 Six Nations: Round Three Preview

The Six Nations is back, and after a turbulent week off the field, we're looking forward to the action on it. Here's a preview of this weekend's games...

Six Nations 2023: round three preview

Wales v England — Saturday, 4.45pm

Off-the-field issues have dominated the build-up to this clash, with the game only given the go-ahead on Wednesday evening after the threat of Welsh players going on strike was averted. 

The Wales squad had been prepared to boycott the match because of a contract dispute with the Welsh Rugby Union, but a last-minute deal was agreed, meaning Warren Gatland's men can now focus on trying to kick-start their Six Nations campaign against rivals England. 

So far, the Welsh have suffered heavy defeats to Ireland and Scotland. But promise comes in the form of their youngsters; 21-year-old flanker Christ Tshiunza and centres Joe Hawkins and Mason Grady — both 20 — will line up against Steve Borthwick's side, with more fresh faces on the bench. 

Meanwhile, England have made just one change from the side that beat Italy in round two with Anthony Watson coming in for injured winger Ollie Hassell-Collins. They're looking for their first win in Cardiff for six years, and you'd fancy their chances, given their opponents' disrupted build-up. 

Links Hospitality will be at this game, and we're expecting the Principality Stadium to be rocking! 

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Italy v Ireland — 2.15pm, Saturday

The Six Nations is Ireland's to lose after their majestic 32-19 victory over World Cup favourites France in Dublin in round two. Andy Farrell's men are the no 1 ranked side in the world and produced some scintillating rugby to end Les Bleus' 14-match winning run, with James Lowe's acrobatic first-half try and Garry Ringrose's match-settling score notable moments that fans will hope to see more of against Italy. 

The Azzurri lost 31-14 to England last time out, with ill-discipline ultimately costing them (Borthwick's men scored two tries while Italy were down to 14 men). But Ange Capuzzo and Co have made great strides in the past 12 months — even coming close to beating France in round one — so Ireland will need to take their threat seriously, particularly without injured captain Johnny Sexton.

France v Scotland - 3pm, Sunday

While France stuttered against the Irish, Scotland demonstrated their Six Nations credentials with an impressive 35-7 over Wales. Gregor Townsend's side boasts the competition's leading points scorer in Finn Russell, whose kicking, handling and line breaks have been superb this season. He'll look to pull the strings against France in Paris, where he should feel at home, given that he plays club rugby for Racing 92. And if he can inspire his side to a third straight win, it would set up the round four clash between Scotland and Ireland as a potential Six Nations decider. 

But the Scots won't have it easy. France are a wounded animal after defeat in Dublin and they'll no doubt be desperate to amends in front of their home crowd on Sunday. Les Bleus' regimented defence, coached by Shaun Edwards, will be hard to penetrate and their attack is skilled enough to capitalise on any loose play by their opponents — for reference, see Damian Penaud's wonder try against Ireland in round two. 


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