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Six Nations Rugby

TV channel, schedule, live stream and kick-off times for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland



JUST a few short months after Eddie Jones’ England sealed the 2020 Six Nations title, the Red Rose must get ready to defend their crown.

After a lengthy delay due to the pandemic, England won their first championship in three years after beating Italy 34-5 in late October.

England celebrated the Triple Crown in 2020


England celebrated the Triple Crown in 2020Credit: Reuters

And already the countdown has begun to the 2021 edition of the annual rugby union tournament.

When is the Six Nations?

  • England will begin their defence with a Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland at Twickenham.
  • The Six Nations 2021 will run from Saturday, February 6 until Saturday, March 20.
  • Kick-off in the opening match between Italy and France is at 2.15pm.

Which TV channel and live stream can I watch the games on?

Every single Six Nations game in 2021 will be on free-to-air TV here in the UK.

The coverage will be divided up between BBC and ITV.

If you want to stream, BBC matches will be shown on the BBC iPlayer while ITV games are on the ITV Hub.

To watch either, you’ll need a valid TV licence – get one here.

Six Nations 2021 fixtures

Round 1

  • Saturday, February 6 – Italy vs France, 2.15pm ITV
  • Saturday, February 6 – England vs Scotland 4.45pm ITV
  • Sunday, February 7 – Wales vs Ireland 3pm BBC

Round 2

  • Saturday, February 13 – England vs Italy 2.15pm ITV
  • Saturday, February 13 – Scotland vs Wales 4.45pm BBC
  • Sunday, February 14 – Ireland vs France 3pm ITV

Round 3

  • Saturday, February 27 – Italy vs Ireland, 2.15pm ITV
  • Saturday, February 27 – Wales vs England 4.45pm BBC
  • Sunday February 28 – France vs Scotland 3pm ITV

Round 4

  • Saturday, March 13 – Italy vs Wales, 2.15pm ITV
  • Saturday, March 13 – England vs France 4.45pm ITV
  • Sunday, March 14 – Scotland vs Ireland 3pm BBC

Round 5

  • Saturday, March 20 – Scotland v Italy 2.15pm BBC
  • Saturday March 20 – Ireland v England 4.45pm ITV
  • Saturday March 20 – France v Wales, 8pm BBC

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Six Nations Rugby

‘Bulletproof’ Williams on brink of ending Wales debate that’s bothered Pivac after masterclass



One of the great quandaries of Wayne Pivac’s reign as Wales boss is that we are two years in and his selections suggest he still doesn’t know who his best scrum-half is.

In defence of the Kiwi, injury has, at times, forced his hand.

But in his first year in the job, the only players to wear the No.9 jersey on two consecutive occasions were Tomos Williams and Gareth Davies. But two matches was as much of a run as anyone had in the shirt.

Read more: For the latest rugby news and interviews, stop by our home of Welsh rugby

Then the former started the 2021 Six Nations as the first choice before pulling up in the first half of the campaign with a muscle injury. That forced Pivac’s hand again and Davies and Kieran Hardy wore the jersey.

We still don’t truly know who Pivac’s No.1 guy is.

A new season represents fresh opportunities and the Cardiff scrum-half has been the first to stake a claim.

He had a blistering start to the campaign during his side’s action-packed 33-21 thrashing of Connacht on Friday night, having grafted hard over the summer.

Williams has suffered injuries at inopportune moments so far during his career. Had he not suffered that blow early in the 2021 Six Nations campaign, he would have been a contender to tour with the Lions this summer, but the rugby gods had other plans.

So, to use the words of his boss Dai Young, he’s spent time attempting to ‘bulletproof’ himself so that he can put his best foot forward when the call to step up comes.

Williams played 60 minutes on opening night, coming off the bench when the Blue and Blacks lost both fly-halves Rhys Priestland and Jarrod Evans to first half injuries.

His namesake scrum-half Lloyd moved out to No.10, leaving the Treorchy boy to slot into his usual position.

And he hit the ground running, proving a constant threat and setting up tries for Willis Halaholo and Owen Lane with probing runs and well-timed passes.

“Tomos was a real asset to us and a real threat to them every time he had the ball. He created most of our opportunities,” beamed Cardiff boss Young after the match.

“If you look at our tries, he had a hand in most of them.

“He’s oozing talent, we know that.

“There are lots of good nines about but anyone that is in front of him must be some sort of player.

“He gets injured at the wrong times. Pretty much every time he’s gone into [Wales] camp, he’s picked up an injury. That’s either just before or at the start.

“He’s been working hard in pre-season, not only on his fitness but also trying to bulletproof himself. If he can stay on the field, the sky’s the limit for him.”

Williams not only proved a constant threat but controlled the game nicely along with his fellow scrum-half outside him.

He also took on the kicking duties and landed three efforts, one being from a relatively tricky angle, with aplomb. Whilst Williams won’t find too much credit from Pivac for his goal-kicking abilities, it does speak to the player’s skill set and highlights how adept he is at the sport’s finer skills.

“I think he needs to have a look at himself for missing that last one, I’ve got to be honest,” laughed Young.

“He’s always kicking [in training] but he’s normally having a row for doing it because he has other things that he needs to be doing.

“When you’ve got three 10s in the club, you don’t really expect your nine to have to step up but he looked so confident, didn’t he?

“He’s just a talented rugby player. He’s one of those people who will get on your nerves because whatever he puts his hand to, he does a good job of it.”

So what are we to take from his opening performance?

It must be viewed as a gauntlet well and truly laid down to Davies and Hardy, who still have time to respond before the clash against the All Blacks next month.

But given that Williams started the 2021 Six Nations, one would assume Pivac is leaning his way.

And he will have been mightily pleased with what he saw as Williams once again showed that he is a scrum-half of truly high calibre.

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David Humphreys on how World 12s can change rugby



World 12s, the international rugby organisation responsible for the proposed new annual rugby 12s tournament in 2022, has today announced David Humphreys as its rugby consultant.

The former Ulster outhalf was capped 72 times by Ireland before having separate six-year stints as a director of rugby with his native province and Gloucester. Humphreys joins the new organisation to support the negotiations and discussions with the key stakeholders within the rugby world.

Designed along the lines of cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL), World 12s are proposing to hold the inaugural tournament over a three-week window in England during August/September 2022, with the host country to change annually.

When first launched last month, the World 12s would have met with a sceptical response, not least as there appears to be little room in a congested rugby calendar.

Humphreys accepts as much, although he is convinced the tournament will hold appeal to players and coaches, as well as the game’s stakeholders.

Speaking exclusively to The Irish Times, Humphreys said: “We used to sit and watch the IPL in Gloucester over lunch or breakfast, and the conversation would be ‘do you think they can ever find a similar format or vehicle in rugby?’ They were thinking of it from the player point of view because of the money involved and it was a discussion that went on for many years.

“That’s why I really like the concept for a whole lot of reasons, but the biggest challenge we face is just finding that spot in the global calendar. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, and I’m open to suggestions.”

But the bottom line remains that any player contracted to a club or union cannot play in a competition that is not sanctioned by World Rugby.

“That’s correct,” admits Humphreys, “and the people involved in the World 12s have always been very, very clear. This isn’t a rebel competition. This is a competition that we very much want aligned to World Rugby, all the unions and the clubs, because we believe it can be for the benefit of the game, both financially for the players but also for the sport.”

He cited, as an example, the opportunities he had as a player with the Barbarians and added: “Every sport has got to continually evolve.”

David Humphreys of Ireland is tackled by Ionut Dimofte and Petrisar Toderasc of Romania during an international match at Lansdowne Road in November 2005. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
David Humphreys of Ireland is tackled by Ionut Dimofte and Petrisar Toderasc of Romania during an international match at Lansdowne Road in November 2005. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Humphreys joins a heavyweight team. Ian Ritchie, the former chief executive of the RFU, is its chief executive, with former NZRU ceo Steve Tew and former chairman of the WRU, Gareth Davies are senior representatives of World 12s.

In addition to the board and executive team, Steve Hansen, Jake White, Schalk Burger, Matt Giteau and Ugo Monye are ambassadors.

There will be eight franchises, employing squads of 24 players each, with a minimum salary cap of €1.64 million and a maximum salary cap of €2.57million.

With an average salary of around €100,000 for three weeks work, and the capacity to earn up to €250,000 in elite cases, the World 12s would appeal to players, and comparative compensation to clubs or unions would sooth opposition from the stakeholders. Players can be contracted to a franchise for up to three seasons.

Each team will have to include two Tier Two players and an under-20 player. With player welfare in mind Ross Tucker, a sometime adviser to World Rugby, has been engaged and there is to be a maximum game time of, say, 50 minutes per week, and a limit on training time.

A women’s tournament is set to come on board in 2023 and the organisers aim to invest close to €300 million of new financial support into the global game over the next five years.

While the odds are against it, we know that money talks.

The organisers claim there have already been real expressions of interest in the franchises and there is, apparently, serious money behind this venture. But of course, the money men are not doing this just for the love of the game.

The vast sums would be generated by franchise ownership, television rights, sponsorship and, it is hoped, full stadia.

Nevertheless, you’d wonder what CVC’s attitude will be to the emergence of a rival competition after ploughing so much money into the sport.

Among the sceptics is Exeter’s long-serving Director of Rugby Rob Baxter.

“The biggest thing that bothers me when these proposals are thrown around, and I don’t mind saying it, is player discontent. Straight away, from a managerial point of view, if this goes ahead what’s the outcome going to be?” Baxter told Rugby Pass.

“It’s basically going to be players put in the middle – they are going to be the jam in the sandwich again between clubs and unions. These people [the tournament organisers] are going to offer, I am assuming, quite a lot of money to try and attract them to play, and the player is going to turn around and he is going to have to ask to be released from contractual obligations. That was the first thing I thought.

“How does it fit into any player’s contract because most of them will be under contract for twelve months of the year and it doesn’t fit into that without player release,” said Baxter, overlooking the carrot of handsome compensation to the clubs and the Unions.

Even so, while also questioning the comparison with cricket, Baxter maintained: “There are going to be a lot of confrontational meetings and problems before I can see it even getting off the ground.”

Ultimately too, a player pool of 192 is a relatively small, elite number. Ala the IPL, the intention is that all nominated players would be divided into six categories and set their own base valuation for the player auction.

“So each player has a minimum price at which he would be willing to play in the competition. However, when it goes to auction there is no individual maximum or minimum cap for each player, but there is an overall maximum salary cap. That’s why a live auction will be quite interesting to watch in itself.”

To date, discussions with players’ representatives have been informal but ideally Humphreys and co want as broad an international spread as possible.

Like the India Premier League, the World 12s would be based around a player auction with players earning between €100,00 and €250,000 for three weeks work. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Like the India Premier League, the World 12s would be based around a player auction with players earning between €100,00 and €250,000 for three weeks work. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

One could readily envisage players like Garry Ringrose, Caelan Doris, Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Porter, James Ryan, Ryan Baird and Dan Sheahan and many others in Leinster holding huge appeal. Ditto the likes of Simon Zebo, Conor Murray, RG Snyman and Damian de Allende in Munster, and most obviously Iain Henderson in Ulster and Bundee Aki in Connacht.

“Our goal is to have the best of the best playing,” said Humphreys. “Ireland is one of the top five nations in world rugby and has been for a long period of time. We want Irish players to be given the opportunity to play in these teams.”

One problem which immediately surfaces is that while several Leinster players would be attractive propositions for franchises, and the feeling might well be mutual, Leo Cullen and his counterparts might be loath to lose a hatful of them, even in pre-season.

“It very much depends on which club you’re talking about because where they are in their season may or may not have an impact on their ability,” said Humphreys.

“When you consider the depth of the Leinster squad, some of their best players might not necessarily be playing at that time in any case. Therefore, four or five of the top Leinster players, four or five of the top Munster players, may play in that tournament if, say, we can build it into part of their pre-season programme.”

Even then, in a Lions year such as this one (with the Rugby Championship in full flow come August and September) or World Cup year, finding a window becomes more problematic, and might have to be flexible.

“We also want the best head coaches in the world to test themselves in a new concept. It’s as simple as that,” said Humphreys. While also likely to provide an opportunity for up-and-coming coaches, if Hansen and White are to be complemented by the likes of Joe Schmidt, Warren Gatland and co, they would also be handsomely remunerated.

World 12s would follow the current laws of 15s, but with some adaptations to augment the increased space on the pitch and ball-in-play time.

Teams would comprise of six forwards and six backs, with 30-minute matches of two 15-minute halves. Conversions would be drop kicked. There would only be one scrum reset, followed by a free kick. Scrum infringements are to be penalised by a differential penalty (ie it cannot be kicked at goal). In the knock-out stages, if matches are tied at full time, a golden point will decide the winner

“We want the best players in the world playing in a different competition that’s fast-flowing,” said Humphreys. “It’s exciting to be part of something that could change the direction of the way the game is going and hopefully appeal to a wider audience.”

But even in a mere three-week window, two key stumbling blocks remain, namely finding the right window and acquiring World Rugby approval.

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The second coming of Simon Zebo: Corkman out to prove doubters wrong again



In another sport, Simon Zebo’s second coming would be a very simple story. Home is the hero, Munster’s all-time top try-scorer is back at Thomond Park and ready to cement his legacy. Ireland’s forgotten man, primed to make a mark.

e’s been to the bright lights of Paris and soaked it all in. Played with the best, scored two tries in a Heineken Champions Cup final and suffered highs and lows along the way.

He’s spoken up against racism repeatedly and he’s not afraid to show his personality. He plays with freedom, breaks from the suffocating structure, refuses to bow to those who tell him not to celebrate his tries.

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