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Six Nations 2020: England v Ireland preview, team news & key stats

The Farrell family are unique – Jones
Guinness Six Nations: England v Ireland
Venue: Twickenham Date: Sunday, 23 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen live on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra; text commentary on BBC Sport website; watch highlights on BBC Two, BBC iPlayer, online and BBC Sport app from 18:00 GMT.

England captain Owen Farrell will seek to end the Grand Slam hopes of father Andy when his side face Ireland.

Sunday’s match at Twickenham will be the first time the pair have been in opposition since Andy Farrell was appointed Ireland head coach.

If Ireland win they would make it three wins from three, secure a Triple Crown and maintain their Grand Slam hopes.

World Cup finalists England revived their own title ambitions with a win over Scotland after losing to France.

It will be England’s first game at Twickenham since thrashing Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August.

But Ireland won on their last Six Nations visit in 2018, as they clinched the Grand Slam with a 25-14 victory on the final day.

Farrell v Farrell – weird isn’t it?

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray summed up the situation of father trying to beat son, when he said: “It’s always going to be weird isn’t it?

“Sometimes he gives good insights into Owen’s game that we might not have seen.

“I’ve played against Owen and toured with him with the Lions. He’s an incredible player and a really good decision-maker.

“Even with knowledge of the way he plays, he’s still able to pick the right options – that’s what makes him really hard to defend and analyse.”

England hooker Jamie George said Andy Farrell had added a “touch of class” to Ireland’s performances since taking over from Joe Schmidt after the World Cup.

“Having worked with him a couple of times, he’s got a great knowledge of defence, around attack and in the kicking game. He’s also got a lot of clever ideas.

“He adds that touch of class. He’s a strong leader who speaks incredibly well and he’ll have them jumping out of that changing room and ready to go.

“That’s added a huge string to their bow and we’ve seen that in the first two rounds. We’re expecting a very physical Ireland team.”

England and Ireland’s results so far
Round One: France 24-17 England; Ireland 19-12 Scotland
Round Two: Scotland 6-13 England; Ireland 24-14 Wales

Commentator’s notes

Andrew Cotter: A match of strong undercurrents with Farrell against Farrell and some Irish players now opening up about their former coaching regime. But the game is important enough, with Ireland going for the Triple Crown and England looking to maintain their challenge in a finely balanced Championship.

Ireland have made just one change to their starting XV from the impressive win over Wales with Iain Henderson absent. While on the bench, the talented young back-row Caelan Doris is back after injury.

England may have lost Mako Vunipola and George Furbank but are hardly weakened with Joe Marler coming in at loose-head prop and Elliot Daly switching to full-back. Eddie Jones can also call on the bruising presence of the returning Manu Tuilagi in midfield.

These are two evenly matched sides but the fact that England are playing at Twickenham for the first time since the World Cup may be a deciding factor.

View from both head coaches

Andy Farrell denies Six Nations game with son Owen is most challenging week of his career

England head coach Eddie Jones: “Ireland are a very good team, extremely well coached. They are a team we respect a lot.

“They will bring their usual physicality and under Andy Farrell they’ve opened up their game a little bit.

“They are a tactically smart team. Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, who have played 170 Tests between them, at nine and 10 will manage the game well.

“We’ve got to make sure we match their physicality and their emotion.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell: “We know what type of game it is going to be, we know how England want to play.

“They play hard on the gain-line, try to win quick ball, win the collisions, etc. We’ve seen them do that with great success over a number of years. So we know what’s coming as far as that’s concerned.

“We want to turn up and express ourselves in that way as well.”

Team news – Bruised Lawes ready to face Ireland

England’s Courtney Lawes suffered a bang to the head during training on Thursday

England flanker Courtney Lawes is ready to play despite suffering a nasty black eye after a collision in training.

Lawes, who celebrates his 31st birthday on Sunday and will equal World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson’s mark of 84 caps, said it would not be a problem.

“It’s just a boo boo,” said Lawes. “Nothing too crazy. It’s all fine… just a clash, my head on something, not sure what.

“I’m hoping it will go down a bit. It’s all right – I got through training.”

England have made four changes in personnel and two positional switches.

Lawes, Marler, Tuilagi and Ben Youngs come in for Lewis Ludlam, Mako Vunipola, Furbank and Willi Heinz respectively, while Daly switches to full-back and Jonathan Joseph moves to the wing.

Ireland’s only change is in the pack where Devin Toner replaces Henderson, who misses the match because of family reasons.


England: 15-Elliot Daly, 14-Jonny May, 13-Manu Tuilagi, 12-Owen Farrell (captain), 11-Jonathan Joseph, 10-George Ford, 9-Ben Youngs; 1-Joe Marler, 2-Jamie George, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 4-Maro Itoje, 5-George Kruis, 6-Courtney Lawes, 7-Sam Underhill, 8-Tom Curry

Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Ellis Genge, 18-Will Stuart, 19-Joe Launchbury, 20-Charlie Ewels, 21-Ben Earl, 22-Willi Heinz, 23-Henry Slade

Ireland: 15-Jordan Larmour, 14-Andrew Conway, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Johnny Sexton, 9-Conor Murray; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rob Herring, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Devin Toner, 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-Ultan Dillane, 20-Caelan Doris, 21-John Cooney, 22-Ross Byrne, 23-Keith Earls

Match facts


  • England have only lost seven home games in Six Nations history – four of them have been against Ireland (P50, W42, L7, D1).
  • However, England recorded their largest-ever margin of victory over Ireland in August 2019 with a 57-15 win in a World Cup warm-up match. In total, they scored 89 points against Ireland last year.


  • A Championship-high 66.7% of their points have been in the final 20 minutes in this tournament.
  • England have scored 16 points or fewer in just six of their Six Nations home games – four have been against Ireland.
  • They have conceded just 11 penalties in their opening two games, four fewer than any other side.


  • Ireland have lost just five of their last 20 Six Nations matches – two of them were against England.
  • They have a higher win percentage in round three than in any other round of the Six Nations, having won 17 of their 20 games to date.
  • Johnny Sexton has already matched his points tally from last year’s tournament of 23. That tally heads the Six Nations so far this campaign.

Match officials

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Touch judges: Romain Poite (France) & Alexandre Ruiz (France)

TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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