Scotland’s meeting with England at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday kicks off the next instalment of the Women’s Six Nations as the Red Roses look to make it three wins from three in defence of the crown they won last year.
The following day, England’s main title rivals France take on Italy at the Stade Furiani, with the Azzurre knowing that a first-ever win on French soil could see them climb to an all-time high of seventh in the World Rugby Women's Rankings. Ireland and Wales round off the weekend’s action when they come face to face in Dublin on Sunday.
Here are some facts and figures for each of this weekend's matches.
SCOTLAND (12) v ENGLAND (2)
The only change of personnel to the Scotland side that lost to France last time out is in the front row where prop Siobhan McMillan replaces the benched Hannah Smith. There is a positional realignment in the pack as Jade Konkel moves to her favoured number eight position and Sarah Bonar, who has recovered from the injury that forced her off in Scotland's last match, starts at flanker.
Captained by fly-half Katy Mclean, England make five changes for the trip north. A new centre partnership features Lagi Tuima at outside centre alongside Lauren Cattell. Ellie Kildunne shifts back to full-back with WRWC 2014 winner Danielle Waterman and Charlotte Pearce on the wings. Up front, Vickii Cornborough comes in at loose-head prop, alongside Amy Cokayne and Sarah Bern, while the other notable changes come in the back row, where Rowena Burnfield and Izzy Noel-Smith get their first starts of the campaign, with Poppy Cleall shifting to number eight to accommodate the loss of captain Sarah Hunter through injury.
- England have won all 11 meetings between these sides in the current format of the Women's Six Nations, keeping Scotland scoreless in eight of these
- Scotland have won two of their last three home games, although they suffered defeat in their most recent match on home soil, against France
- England are aiming for a 50th win in the Six Nations in the current format (since 2007) and are also eight points shy of recording 2,000 in the competition
- England have won their last seven in a row in the Six Nations, each victory coming by double-figure margins
- There have been 59 points per game on average in meetings between the teams in the Six Nations, the highest scoring fixture in the current format of the Championship
Due to the large rating points differential in their favour, an England victory will have no impact on the rankings. Scotland stand to gain between two and three rating points depending on the margin of victory, while any form of a win or a draw would see them move above Samoa into 11th place. England's cushion over France means they cannot slide from second place, even with a heavy loss.
FRANCE (3) v ITALY (9)
France have opted to rotate their squad as they bid to make it three wins from three in the Championship. Into the backline comes Carla Neisen, in place of the prolific Jade Le Pesq at centre, while Caroline Drouin is named at fly-half in place of Pauline Bourdon. Half the pack is different to the one that saw off Scotland 26-3 a fortnight ago, two of the changes coming at prop with Julie Duval promoted from the bench while Caroline Thomas is called up from outside that 23. Celine Ferer and Fiona Lecat are the new additions to the second row and back row respectively.
Gaia Giacomoli and Michela Merlo fill in at prop for the injured Eleanora Ricci and Lucia Gai in an Italian team showing six changes in total. The other new additions to the pack are Elisa Pilloti into the second row, Beatrice Veronese at blindside flanker and Giada Franco at number eight. The only change to the backline sees Veronica Madia win her ninth cap at fly-half alongside captain and half-back partner Sara Barattin.
- France have won nine of their 11 Six Nations games against Italy, losing only in 2013 and 2015
- Les Bleues have won all five of their home games against Italy in the Championship and haven’t conceded a single point at home to the Italians since 2010
- France have won their last four games in the Six Nations, their best run since winning nine in a row from 2013-15
- Italy have lost their last seven games in the Championship; however, their last victory did come away from home, against Wales in 2016
- At home, France have won 13 in a row in the Six Nations since losing to England in 2012. In fact, all their home defeats have come against the Red Roses, winning 25 of 28 on home soil.
Like England, France will not pick up any rating points for beating Italy as there are more than 14 points between the sides before home weighting is factored in. Italy will climb two places to seventh – their highest position since the women's rankings were introduced in February 2016 – in the event of them winning well and Ireland either beating or drawing with Wales.
Looking forward to pulling the jersey on again this weekend with such a great group! https://t.co/Shj4YYwtiR— Bethan Lewis (@_BethanLewis) February 22, 2018
IRELAND (8) v WALES (7)
Ireland, currently third in the Women's Six Nations standings, make four changes to the side that beat Italy 21-8 a fortnight ago. Ciara O'Connor and Leah Lyons, who both featured off the bench in the opening rounds, start alongside Lindsey Peat in the front row. Paula Fitzpatrick moves to number eight and captain Ciara Griffin to the blindside, while Claire Molloy completes the back-row trio and will make her 60th appearance for Ireland along with former captain Niamh Briggs at fly-half. There is one change in the backline with Claire McLaughlin starting in place of the injured Alison Miller.
Full-back Lisa Neumann makes her first start for Wales in an otherwise unchanged line-up. Meanwhile, loose-head prop Cara Hope could make her test debut from the bench.
- Ireland have won each of the last six meetings between these sides in the Championship, this after losing four of five against Wales before that
- The Irish have won their last four at home against Wales, conceding just 12 points in total in that run and scoring 89 points themselves
- Ireland have won 14 of their last 16 home games, with only France (2015) and England (2017) travelling to Ireland and coming away with victory in that run
- Wales have lost five of their last six games in the Six Nations, although their solitary victory in that run came in their opening game of this campaign against Scotland
- There have been just 23 points per game on average in fixtures between Ireland and Wales in the Six Nations, the lowest scoring fixture in the Championship
Ireland will leapfrog Wales into seventh if they win by more than 15 points. A hefty defeat, however, would see them drop one place to ninth and only leave them one-hundredth of a point better off than Spain. Wales cannot move any higher than their current position of seventh as there are more than three points between them and Australia in sixth, and the most they can gain with victory is 1.68 points.
The World Rugby Rankings updated every Monday at 12:00 GMT.
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