In Depth

Beautiful Day: U2 rocker Bono visits Ireland squad ahead of Six Nations trip to Twickenham

Scotland make three changes for their clash against Italy in Rome

Six Nations round three fixtures 
  • Saturday 22 February: Italy vs. Scotland (2.15pm GMT; live on ITV); Wales vs. France (4.45pm GMT; live on BBC and S4C)  
  • Sunday 23 February: England vs. Ireland (3pm GMT; live on ITV)

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is hoping that a visit from U2 frontman Bono will inspire his side to a third successive victory in this year’s Six Nations rugby championship. 

Singer Bono, a keen rugby fan, paid a visit to Ireland’s team hotel on Tuesday night ahead of their match against England at Twickenham on Sunday.  

Farrell told IRFU TV: “We’re unbelievably privileged. He was top of the wish list. He was great, he put real time and effort into it. He’s a private guy who doesn’t really do these things. But he loves his rugby. His wife Ali came along as well and she loves her rugby as well. 

“He told us some stories and we got a lot out of it. He’s a proud Irishman so we connect to that. The key for us is making sure we do the homework and the guests that come in, we get something out of it.

“So the lads certainly did their homework and asked the questions and got the answers that they wanted from it.”

For Sunday’s clash Farrell has kept faith with the same 15 that beat Wales two weeks ago and only makes one change to his bench with back-rower Caelan Doris replacing Max Deegan.

England, who have one win and one loss from their opening two games, will name their team tomorrow. 

Eddie Jones’s side have not beaten Ireland at Twickenham since 2016 but they could be boosted by the return of Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade.

However, Anthony Watson is still out because of a calf injury and Mako Vunipola misses out due to a personal issue.

Ireland team to face England
  • Starting XV: 15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Jonathan Sexton (captain), 9. Conor Murray; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rob Herring, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. CJ Stander
  • Replacements: 16. Ronan Kelleher, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Devin Toner, 20. Caelan Doris, 21. John Cooney, 22. Ross Byrne, 23. Keith Earls 

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Townsend makes three changes 

Italy and Scotland, the two sides still without a victory in this year’s championship, go head-to-head at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday. 

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his team with Chris Harris replacing Huw Jones in midfield, lock Ben Toolis coming in for the injured Jonny Gray and Stuart McInally taking the place of Fraser Brown. 

Townsend said: “We believe Chris [Harris] and Stuart [McInally] deserve this opportunity. They were very close to the starting XV when we entered this campaign. We think this is the right time for them to come in. 

“Chris has been excellent for Gloucester this season and has continued to make improvements since the summer. He works very hard on both sides of the ball, which will be important this week.

“Stuart [McInally] has shown over the past few weeks he’s back to full fitness and is raring to go and Ben gets an opportunity to start following Jonny’s injury against England. 

“Second row is a position we have a lot of competition with a number of very good players available for selection. We’re looking forward to seeing how he combines again with Scott [Cummings] after a successful outing together against Russia in the World Cup.”

Italy interim head coach Franco Smith will name his team at 2pm this afternoon. Wales and France also announce their teams today. 

Scotland team to face Italy
  • Starting XV: 15. Stuart Hogg (captain), 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Blair Kinghorn, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Ben Toolis, 5. Scott Cummings, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Magnus Bradbury 
  • Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Willem Nel, 19. Grant Gilchrist, 20. Matt Fagerson, 21. George Horne, 22. Rory Hutchinson, 23. Byron McGuigan

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