Six Nations: Beard returns for Wales; Scotland overhaul squad

Wayne Pivac will be hoping his side have enough to beat France and win the Grand Slam on the final weekend of the Six Nations. Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Adam Beard comes into the Wales starting line up as they face France in Paris for the Grand Slam.

Beard started for Wales in their first three games but after picking up a knock against England sat out the game against Italy with Cory Hill stepping in.

Alun Wyn Jones will lead Wales in his 148th Test appearance.

"We are all looking forward to Saturday and to the finale of the Six Nations," Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said.

"We are four from four to date but know this weekend will be a great challenge against a very good French side, but we are looking forward to it.

"We know we need to step up from our previous performances and we want to end the tournament with a performance we know we are capable of."

Starting XV: Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Josh Adams, Jonathan Davies, George North, Louis Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Botham, Tomos Williams, Callum Sheedy, Uilisi Halaholo.


France coach Fabien Galthie has kept faith with his starting lineup after their last-gasp defeat by England.

Matthieu Jalibert will start again at fly-half alongside Antoine Dupont after a sterling performance at Twickenham, where Les Bleus lost 23-20 after conceding a late try.

Romain Ntamack, Dupont's usual partner, was back from injury last weekend but did not play and Jalibert's display means he is chosen again for a game France must win to stay on course to secure the championship.

"We chose him for a simple reason, he was excellent against England," Galthie told a news conference on Thursday.

"He was solid, he kicked perfectly and performed well in the way he managed the game against very tough opposition."

Starting XV: Brice Dulin, Teddy Thomas, Virimi Vakatawa, Gael Fickou, Damian Penaud, Matthieu Jalibert, Antoine Dupont, Gregory Alldritt, Charles Ollivon (captain), Dylan Cretin, Paul Willemse, Romain Taofifenua, Mohamed Haouas, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille

Replacements: Camille Chat, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Uini Atonio, Swan Rebbadj, Anthony Jelonch, Baptiste Serin, Romain Ntamack, Arthur Vincent.


England have also made just one change for their trip to Ireland in the Six Nations with Elliot Daly starting at outside centre.

Daly comes in for Henry Slade who is sidelined with a calf injury. Harlequins centre Joe Marchant is added to the bench, but bar those two changes, Eddie Jones has retained the same bulk of players who beat France 23-20 last weekend.

England head to Dublin on Saturday with two wins from four, and hope to finish the championship with a victory against Andy Farrell's Ireland.

"This is our most important game of the tournament and we want to finish well," Jones said.

"We're anticipating a hard, tough game against Ireland and we've picked this team to cope with that.

"We want to take it to Ireland physically and play the rugby we want to play."

Starting XV: Max Malins, Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Jamie George, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Dan Robson, Ollie Lawrence, Joe Marchant.


Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has completely overhauled his squad from the side that lost to Ireland last weekend, making seven changes for the game against Italy.

Captain Stuart Hogg makes his first start at fly-half while Harlequins scrum-half Scott Steele is in line to make his first start for Scotland.

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Edinburgh hooker David Cherry is also set to make his first start while Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner come in for the injured Scott Cummings and Jonny Gray.

"Saturday is an opportunity for us to show an improved performance and a much truer reflection of who we are as a team. It's also an opportunity for a number of players in their first start of the Championship," Townsend said.

"How we perform physically this weekend is going to be very important, both in terms of the energy and effort that is demanded from you each time you represent Scotland, and also our impacts in every contact.

Starting XV: Sean Maitland, Darcy Graham, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Duhan van der Merwe, Stuart Hogg (captain), Scott Steele, Rory Sutherland, David Cherry, Zander Fagerson, Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson

Replacements: George Turner, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan, Alex Craig, Nick Haining, Ali Price, Jaco van der Walt, Chris Harris.


Ireland coach Andy Farrell has made changes ahead of their final Six Nations match against England in Dublin on Saturday, with experienced scrumhalf Conor Murray back in the starting lineup alongside captain Johnny Sexton.

Murray, who was on the bench last weekend for Ireland's win over Scotland, has fully recovered from a hamstring injury and replaces Jamison Gibson-Park who was named among the replacements.

"Conor has another week behind him training-wise, so he's fresh and fit and raring to go. He's a big-game player," Farrell said on Thursday.

Bundee Aki comes in at inside centre with Garry Ringrose injured and Robbie Henshaw is at outside centre.

Jacob Stockdale is back on the left wing, his first appearance since the Autumn Nations Cup in December, replacing James Lowe who did not make the 23-man squad after his performance against Scotland was marred by defensive errors.

"With James there's a few things that we've talked about over the series, over the Six Nations," Farrell added.

"He's very young as far as international experience is concerned, he's learned a lot in his time. We're looking forward to him progressing in the big games back at Leinster in the coming weeks."

Dave Kilcoyne comes in for Cian Healy at loosehead prop and lines up alongside Rob Herring and Tadhg Furlong in the front row.

Josh van der Flier starts at openside flanker after Will Connors was ruled out when he suffered a knee injury in training and CJ Stander will play his final game for Ireland at blindside flanker.

"Will was unbelievably unfortunate," Farrell said. "He's had a great tournament and really progressed. It was something out of nothing... he came down in an awkward position on his knee. He'll have some more checks in the coming days."

Starting XI

Hugo Keenan, Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton (C), Conor Murray, Dave Kilcoyne, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.


Ronan Kelleher, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Peter O'Mahony, Jamison Gibson, Billy Burns, Jordan Larmours.30825833


Centre Federico Mori will start for Italy after being named in coach Franco Smith's side for their final match of this year's competition against Scotland on Saturday, with the Azzurri looking to end another disappointing campaign on a high.

Italy have lost 31 Six Nations matches in a row stretching back to a 2015 win over Scotland at Murrayfield and are already guaranteed to pick up a sixth successive wooden spoon this time around.

To end that barren run, Smith has named another youthful XV with Mori, 20, starting his first Six Nations match of the tournament at centre alongside Juan Ignacio Brex.

South African Smith makes four changes from the side who were thrashed by Wales last weekend, with David Sisi unable to recover from a shoulder injury inflicted in that defeat to make the squad.

Benetton Rugby duo Niccolo Cannone and Federico Ruzza line up in the second row, while prop pair Marco Riccioni and Danilo Fischetti make up the front row alongside captain Luca Bigi.

Despite losing four from four so far, Smith says there is still plenty to play for and believes his side are capable of ending their win drought on Saturday.

"We have a big challenge ahead of us," he said. "Our work during the week was excellent.

"We want to win on Saturday, closing the tournament in the best possible way and continuing on the path of becoming more and more competitive."

Italy XI: Edoardo Padovani, Mattia Bellini, Juan Ignacio Brex, Federico Mori, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney, Michele Lamaro, Johan Meyer, Sebastian Negri, Federico Ruzza, Niccolo Cannone, Marco Riccioni, Luca Bigi (C), Danilo Fischetti.


Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andrea Lovotti, Giosue Zilocchi, Riccardo Favretto, Maxime Mbanda, Marcello Violi, Carlo Canna, Marco Zanon.

Additional reporting by Reuters.