England have lost Luke Cowan-Dickie for the remainder of the Six Nations due to a knee injury and Ireland prop Andrew Porter will also play no further part in the tournament.

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter on Thursday confirmed Cowan-Dickie could be out for the rest of the season as he requires surgery.

The hooker did the damage in a 23-19 win over Wales at Twickenham last weekend and England forwards coach Richard Cockerill says his absence is a blow for the Red Rose in their quest to win the title.

Cockerill said: "We're disappointed for him, for Exeter and obviously ourselves. He's a really important player to the team and a leader to the group as well.

"So it's a bit of a blow to the team, but we've got cover and that's the game isn't it, players get injured, you have to deal with that and someone else gets an opportunity.

"Jamie [George] is a fantastic player; he's proven that for the last 10 years or so. He did a great job when he came on at the weekend and I'm sure he’s looking forward to doing that again."

Ireland will have to do without Porter when they travel Twickenham to face Eddie Jones' side a week on Saturday.

The prop sustained an ankle injury during the 57-6 round three rout of Italy, which left Ireland just a point behind leaders France in second place.

Ireland are hopeful centre Robbie Henshaw is passed fit to take on England after he suffered a head injury in the thrashing of the Azzurri.

England batsman Jason Roy has pulled out of this year's Indian Premier League for personal reasons.

The 31-year-old had been due to play for new franchise Gujarat Titans in the competition, which runs from March 26 to May 29.

However, Roy announced in a statement on his personal Instagram account on Tuesday that he will no longer be taking part in a blow for the Titans.

It is the second time Roy has pulled out of the competition, having also done so in 2020 after being picked by Delhi Capitals.

Roy, who welcomed his second child in January, said: "It's with a heavy heart I have decided to pull out of this year's tournament.

"I want to thank the management and the captain Hardik [Pandya] for putting your faith in me and picking me in the auction.

"However, with everything going on in the world over the last 3 years, it's added up and taken its toll on me. I feel it's only right I spend some quality time with my family. 

"As well as spending time working on myself and my game over the next couple of months leading in to a very busy year.

"I will be following each game of the Titans and backing them to lift the trophy in their first year of the tournament.

"Thank you everyone for the continued support and I hope you can all respect and appreciate my decision."

Roy played in the Pakistan Super League last month and is in contention to feature for England in the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

England opener Zak Crawley insists he never feared for his Test career despite enduring a "horrible" run of form in 2021.

Crawley was dropped for parts of a year that saw him register just 173 runs at an average of 10.81.

A 77 in Sydney against Australia in January helped England to salvage draw in the fourth Ashes Test and avoid a series whitewash.

Crawley, who turned 24 this month, is hoping to build on that as England play West Indies in three Test matches with a new-look group after eight players were dropped.

"No, I didn't fear it was finished," Crawley told Sky Sports when asked if he was worried about his Test career. "I knew I was young and I always believed in myself.

"It was a horrible year last year in terms of the stats, but I thought it was a bit misleading actually – I felt like I was a bit unlucky with conditions in some places when I got a chance.

"So now when conditions are hopefully in my favour I need to make sure I cash in and make up for that

"You learn a lot more from your failures than your successes and I learned an awful lot about myself last year.

"I think I'm a lot better player for it – there are no certainties in life but I feel good about my game at the moment and hopefully I’ll score good runs in this series

"It still wasn't the runs I wanted but the way that I played [against Australia], I was pleased with. It's given me a platform to kick on from. I feel I understand my game a lot more now, after having a tough year.

"You create your own luck. Obviously, people trusted in me again and I'm looking to repay them and score a lot of runs for them this year and for England in general.

"I think we're going to have a good year and hopefully I can be a big part of that."

The first Test at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium starts on March 8.

England will be led by interim coach Paul Collingwood after Chris Silverwood was dismissed in the wake of the 4-0 Ashes loss.

"There's a lot of excitement about this series, we're loving being here in the Caribbean – it's a great place to travel to and play," added Crawley.

"We're really looking forward to the series and we're a positive group at the moment.

"It's pretty easy [to put the Ashes behind you]. We know what when wrong, we've analysed what we did wrong and we're looking to move forwards now. 

"You learn a lot in general from losing actually and it gives you a chance to bounce back strongly. I think we will during this series and in the coming year."

England will boycott international football fixtures with Russia "for the foreseeable future" in response to the conflict in Ukraine, the Football Association (FA) has confirmed.

After weeks of heightening political tensions, Russia invaded neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday, with the conflict having escalated over the weekend.

Russia's actions have been widely condemned, with political, financial and sporting sanctions imposed.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) called on all international sporting federations to relocate or cancel any events set to take place in Russia or Belarus, while St Petersburg was stripped of the 2021-22 Champions League final by UEFA and Formula One removed the Russian Grand Prix from its 2022 calendar.

The FA has followed suit and will refuse to take part in any fixture with Russia for the foreseeable future as a show of solidarity for Ukraine.

"Out of solidarity with Ukraine and to wholeheartedly condemn the atrocities being committed by the Russian leadership, the FA can confirm that we won't play against Russia in any international fixtures for the foreseeable future," a statement released by the FA read.

"This includes any potential match at any level of senior, age group or para football."

The FA's stance comes after Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic all announced that they will boycott matches against Russia in the upcoming World Cup qualification play-off rounds.

A number of prominent footballing figures, including Robert Lewandowski, have spoken out in support of that decision, while Sunday's EFL Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool at Wembley was preceded by a united display of support for the Ukrainian people.

Ben Youngs said the "magnitude" of becoming England's most-capped men's player has yet to sink in, after the 32-year-old surpassed Jason Leonard by making his 115th international appearance in the Six Nations win over Wales.

Youngs came on from the bench during England's 23-19 win over the Six Nations holders at Twickenham, as Eddie Jones' side survived a second-half Wales comeback to follow up their 33-0 thrashing of Italy with another crucial win.

Leicester scrum-half Youngs, who made his senior international debut against Scotland in March 2010, said he needed time to reflect upon his accomplishment.

"I've tried to convince myself that today and tomorrow I will sit back and try and absorb it all," he said.

"I don't think the magnitude of what's happened has sunk in."

Harry Randall was England's starting scrum-half for the contest, but Youngs said he had no qualms with playing a supporting role to the 24-year-old in his own veteran years.

"Right now I'm getting a huge amount of joy in helping this young team," Youngs added. "While Eddie still thinks I have value and I feel I have value, it seems all right.

"Now I can reflect on that moment and to have the family witness it as well, it was a fabulous occasion."

 

115 - Ben Youngs has won his 115th cap for @EnglandRugby - and his 50th in the #GuinnessSixNations - making him the most capped player for the England men's team; only Rocky Clark, Sarah Hunter and Katy Daley-Mclean have won more for England overall. Roses. pic.twitter.com/3ZHGElKDrT

— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 26, 2022

England punished an error-strewn Wales performance to win 23-19 at Twickenham and remain France's nearest challengers in the 2022 Six Nations.

The Red Rose had responded to their opening defeat to Scotland with a routine victory over Italy but would have expected a greater test against the defending champions on Saturday.

Instead, England controlled much of the proceedings, with Wales initially impressing only in limiting their scoring.

Marcus Smith's penalty kicking ensured the home side were comfortable early on, though, and an Alex Dombrandt try early in the second period meant an attempted Wales comeback – led by scores from Josh Adams, Nick Tompkins and Kieran Hardy – fell just short.

There was precious little quality in a first half that England dominated, with their 12 points all coming from the boot of Smith.

England's best chance of a try saw them halted in front of the line before Charlie Ewels was penalised for a knock-on, although the TMO spotted Liam Williams had dislodged the ball, earning a yellow card.

Williams headed for the sin bin, yet England added only three points to their total through Smith's latest penalty in his time off the pitch.

The breakthrough try was suitably scruffy in the 43rd minute when Ryan Elias' lineout cleared all of his team-mates and allowed Dombrandt to steal in and score.

Wales' response was rather more impressive, with Adams found free on the left for one try before Tompkins exploited a gap for another, cutting the lead from 17 points to five.

England introduced Ben Youngs for a record-breaking 115th cap as they sought to stem the tide, although it was a further pair of fine Smith kicks that really eased the nerves.

A quick restart from Hardy to score with seconds remaining gave England one last attack to see out with the match on the line, but Eddie Jones' men held on.

Another slow Welsh start

A worrying trend of this Wales campaign has been their poor first-half showings. This was the second of three matches in which they have failed to score a point before the break.

Struggling prior to half-time is nothing new in this fixture, though. They have not led at the interval in any of their 12 Six Nations matches at Twickenham and are the only side with that miserable record.

Smith's boot the standout

Smith finished with 18 points, matching his previous Test best against Canada last July. On that occasion, however, his points came courtesy of nine conversions in a one-sided triumph; this time, with six penalties, his contribution was far more decisive.

The England fly-half also now leads the charts for points in this championship, 12 ahead of Melvyn Jaminet, with whom he had been tied heading into Saturday.

What's next?

Ireland will have the opportunity to nudge ahead of England when they host Italy on Sunday, but they are then the next visitors to Twickenham. Wales must attempt to halt France's Grand Slam charge in Cardiff.

Ex-England star Jason Leonard has congratulated Ben Youngs as he gets set to become the nation's most-capped player in men's international rugby ahead in their Six Nations clash with Wales.

The scrum-half will start from the bench for Eddie Jones' side at Twickenham, with Harry Randall favoured in the initial XV, but will win his 115th cap for his country when he enters the fray.

That will take him past former World Cup winner Leonard, with whom he jointly sits on 114 caps at the top of the leaderboard.

The former Harlequins favourite took to social media ahead of the match to pay tribute to Youngs' achievement.

"All the best Ben Youngs," the former prop wrote on Twitter. "I know Twickenham will raise the roof for your 115th cap, as I will be one of them!

"I couldn't want for a better individual to pass the record [to] as you are an absolute credit to the game. [It's been] an absolute honour to have held the record for so long."

Youngs will remain shy of Leonard's total international cap record for a few more games at least, however, given that the latter has played more games for the British and Irish Lions.

Both remain well shy of Wales stalwart Alun Wyn Jones' all-time men's record, with the lock having picked up 161 caps to date - 149 for Wales and a dozen for the Lions.

Dan Biggar says he will not have to plan his pre-match speech when Wales face England in the Six Nations, adding that the emotion should prove enough for his side.

The Northampton fly-half will skipper Wayne Pivac's side at Twickenham as they look to give their Championship hopes a shot in the arm.

Wales have not won at the home of English rugby since 2015, having lost on their last five visits – and Biggar admits that his side should need no motivation to deliver.

"Sometimes very little is needed to be said," he stated. "It's very much down to the individual.

"I'd like to think that in a pivotal weekend in the Six Nations against England at Twickenham there won't be too much needed [to be] said from an emotional level to get us going.

"At some point you have to roll your sleeves up. Do we want to be enjoying a beer after putting everything in and enjoying the result?

"Or do we want to feel that we haven't given it our all and are really quite disappointed with how we played and let the country down?"

Biggar admitted that Wales need to ensure they make a sharp start, having historically sunk to defeat against England after falling behind early on.

"We need to make sure that when we go away to tough places, like the Aviva, like Twickenham, we start well," he added. "It's important we don't give them a start.

"It's such a difficult task. Even if you get yourself back in the game, one more score for England takes you out. They've got some serious strength in depth and they're a very good side."

Scotland denied France glory in last year's Six Nations, with their dramatic victory in Paris meaning Les Bleus missed out on the title.

Now, France will be out for vengeance as they head to Edinburgh at the top of the standings with two victories from their opening two matches.

England, meanwhile, bounced back from their defeat to Scotland in round one with a hammering of Italy, and Eddie Jones' second-placed team host Wales at Twickenham. 

Wales lost convincingly to Ireland in their first game, yet defeated Scotland 20-17 last time out, though the defending champions are down in fifth place as it stands.

The final match of the weekend sees Ireland take on Italy in Dublin. The Azzurri are staring down the barrel of a 100th Six Nations defeat.

Ahead of the third round of fixtures, Stats Perform previews each match with help from Opta.

SCOTLAND V FRANCE

FORM

Scotland have won four of their last six games against France in the Championship, including the last two in a row and a first win in Paris since 1999. They have not won three in a row against Les Bleus in the tournament since 1956-1958.

This will be the 99th meeting between Scotland and France in all competitions, with Les Bleus leading the head to head with 56 wins (L39, D3). However, honours are even across the last 10 clashes, with both sides picking up five wins each.

France opened their campaign with a pair of wins, something they also managed in 2021. The only time since 2011 when they have won their opening three games was in 2020, when they missed out on the title and a Grand Slam after a fourth-round defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

 

ONES TO WATCH

Darcy Graham has beaten a Championship-high nine defenders so far. He is just ahead of French duo Gabin Villiere, Damian Penaud, and Marcus Smith.

France's Gregory Alldritt has made more carries (30) than any other player, while he has also gained 83 post-contact metres, the most of any forward and fourth most of any player, after Ireland's Mack Hansen (107), Scotland's Graham (86) and team-mate Penaud (84), as well as hitting 10 more defensive rucks (36) than anyone else.

ENGLAND V WALES

FORM

The last four Six Nations matches between these sides have been won by the home side on the day. Indeed, England have won their last four home games against Wales in the Championship, only once since 1930 have they enjoyed a longer such streak, a nine-game run between 1990 and 2006.

England have lost just two of their last 24 home games in the Six Nations (W21, D1), defeats to Ireland in 2018 and Scotland in 2021. Wales' last win at Twickenham in the Championship was in 2012. Since the start of the 2016 tournament, Wales have picked up just one away victory outside of Scotland or Italy, a 24-19 win in Paris in 2019.

England (49) and Wales (34) have made more maul metres than any other sides so far in this edition of the Six Nations.

ONES TO WATCH

Jones has named Ben Youngs on England's bench. If he comes on, Youngs will win his 115th Test cap, overtaking Jason Leonard as the country's most capped men's player. The scrum-half has been involved in five tries in his last six starts against Wales (three tries, two assists).

Alex Cuthbert is set to play for Wales for a 50th time.  He is looking to score his first try in the Six Nations since crossing against Italy in 2014.

 

IRELAND V ITALY

FORM

Ireland have won 21 of their 22 previous Six Nations matches against Italy, their sole defeat coming in 2013 (15-22), in what was the Azzurri's last home victory in the Championship.

Italy's next defeat will be their 100th in the Championship, they are currently on a record 34 match losing run, almost seven years since last claiming a victory (22-19 v Scotland, 28 Feb 2015).

Ireland hold a 100 per cent win rate against Italy at home in the Six Nations (W11), with the Azzurri the only side that has never won at the Aviva Stadium or Croke Park. Indeed, Ireland have scored 50 or more points in each of their last three home games against the tournament's whipping boys.

ONES TO WATCH

Hansen, Jamison Gibson-Park and Bundee Aki are three of just six players to both score and assist a try, the trio all scoring once and assisting one try after two rounds.

Italy's Federico Ruzza has won more lineouts (16) than any other player, including one steal, and team-mate Michele Lamaro has made the most tackles (41) in the tournament.

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel remains very much a part of the plans of the new Desmond Haynes-led selection panel despite not being selected in the squad for the first Test against England.

The 33-year-old pace bowler, who has been playing for Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the West Indies Championship, was not named among the 15-man squad for the first Test or Presidents XI.  His omission is, however, due to sustaining a hamstring injury.

“Shannon was injured in the game that he played in Trinidad.  We were told by the medical panel that he is having a bit of a problem with his hamstring and would not be fit for selection,” Haynes told members of the media on Wednesday.

“Shannon did very well against England the last tour here.  He’s probably our fastest bowler and we are hoping to get him fit so that he can be on the park."

Overall Gabriel has taken 37 wickets against England in 11 matches and took 5 for 25 and overall figures of 9 for 137 when he face England in 2020.  The English went on to win the series 2-1.  Concerns have been raised over the player’s workload in recent times after the fast bowler has found himself sidelined by a few injuries.

England will be without Manu Tuilagi for their Six Nations clash with Wales after the centre suffered a hamstring injury.

Tuilagi had been set to return from an injury lay off to feature at Twickenham on Saturday, having been named in the team that Eddie Jones confirmed on Thursday.

However, England have been dealt a blow as scans after training revealed a hamstring problem for the 30-year-old.

England have recalled Joe Marchant, who will train with the squad on Friday. However, an updated team will not be confirmed until the day of the game.

Tuilagi had been set to play alongside Henry Slade in midfield for Jones' team, who bounced back from their defeat to Scotland in the opening match by beating Italy last time out.

He has represented England in 46 Tests so far since making his debut in 2011.

Manu Tuilagi and captain Courtney Lawes will make their returns from injury in England's Six Nations showdown with Wales at Twickenham, while forward Taulupe Faletau will make his first appearance since last year's competition for the visitors on Saturday.

Both sides have posted a win and a loss in their two games so far to trail early leaders France in the table.

England bounced back from a 20-17 loss to Scotland by thrashing Italy 33-0 last time out, while Wales beat Scotland 20-17 after opening their title defence with a 29-7 defeat in Ireland.

Lawes returns from a concussion-enforced layoff which has kept him out of action since January, and regains the captaincy he held against South Africa last Autumn, replacing stand-in Tom Curry in the role.

Tuilagi also makes a welcome return from injury, but Ben Youngs will have to wait to win a record 115th cap after being named on the bench, as Eddie Jones makes four changes to the team which impressed in Rome, with Luke Cowan-Dickie and Kyle Sinckler also coming in.

Looking ahead to the match, Jones told England Rugby that he was content with his side's preparation, and was excited ahead of the showdown.

"We've prepared very well for this game, the squad have really come together on and off the pitch," said Jones. 

"Wales are a good, tough side and Six Nations champions, and it will make for an exciting Test match in front of a full Twickenham crowd.

"We've got a talented, young, hungry squad who have trained with real intensity this week. We're ready to go at them and can't wait to play in front of our supporters again."

Out-of-favour West Indies opening batsman Kieran Powell has admitted it was a disappointment to not at least be considered for the CWI President’s XI squad ahead of the upcoming four-match Test series against England.

The 31-year-old left-hander missed out on a chance under the new selection panel, after being skipped over in favour of Jamaica batsman John Campbell.  Powell, who last played for the West Indies last August against Pakistan, has scored 144 runs in two matches for the Leeward Islands in the West Indies Championship, the seventh-best so far.

Campbell has in the meantime scored 213.  With performances, the batsman believes there could also have been some consideration for Leewards no. 3 Devon Thomas who has scored 242, the second most behind West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who has 341.

“I definitely thought that if I didn’t make the Test squad I would make the President’s XI based on the performances, but I saw Devon Thomas batting the way that nobody else in the Caribbean batted in those two games and if the team is going to be selected on performances, the way that he has played is second to none so you would like to think that he would have gotten into this squad,” Powell told the Mason and Guest radio show.

Despite not making the squad, however, Powell was pleased with his start to the season and expressed disappointment at the competition going on a break during the England tour.

“I’m pretty happy with where I was able to get to.  I’m very disappointed the season was halted after two matches because you would have seen cricket not being played for two years and guys were so excited to get back out there and the level of cricket the Leewards played in those games, we had some tough decisions against Barbados and a few things could have gone our way.”

 

England captain Joe Root believes there is still a way back for Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and admitted that he is grateful to have maintained his own position after a dire Ashes series.

Anderson and Broad have been outspoken about their omissions from the squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies, with the latter also criticising the fact that he was only informed of the decision via a brief phone call with Interim managing director of cricket Andrew Strauss.

Strauss selected the 16-man squad along with interim coach Paul Collingwood and head scout James Taylor, after a 4-0 Ashes defeat led to the departure of England head coach Chris Silverwood.

Despite seeing his experienced team-mates dropped, Root claimed there could be a way back into the fold for the duo.

"I've spoken both to Stuart and Jimmy and they're obviously disappointed and angry. Stuart in particular has voiced that quite publicly," Root said, as reported via The Telegraph.

"You'd expect that. I've got a huge amount of respect for both of them. It's been made very clear, no one is saying this is the end for them. 

"If we're in a position where [Broad and Anderson] can come back into this team, then great, that's only going to strengthen things. No-one's been told that it's the end of the road."

Anderson and Broad have taken a combined 1,177 Test wickets, ranking as the country's two most prolific bowlers of all time in the longest format.

With a number of regulars, such as Jos Buttler and Rory Burns, missing the Windies tour, Root acknowledged he was thankful to keep his place, though he has never lost faith in his own ability.

Indeed, despite England's poor display as a team Down Under, Root enjoyed a stellar 2021, scoring 1,708 runs across 29 Test innings.

 

"It's never nice when you see people that you've worked closely with for a long period of time lose their jobs," Root continued.

"Clearly it was a disappointing tour [in Australia] and we massively underperformed. As Straussy mentioned, [we need] a bit of a reset, and a real chance to take things forward. I'm very grateful that I've got the opportunity to do that as captain.

"It's a real opportunity that we've got to take with both hands. It's obviously a very new-looking squad, and it's a real chance for the guys to step up and really take the chances that are presented to them – me included.

"I didn't waver. I'm very passionate about trying to take this team forward. I'm grateful I've got that opportunity, I really am."

Root posted a batting average of just 32.2 throughout England's third consecutive series defeat in Australia, well down on his career Test average of 49.23, but will now attempt bounce back by leading England to just their second series win in the Caribbean since 1968.

James Anderson insists he still has "a lot left to offer" after speaking for the first time since being surprisingly left out of England's squad for the upcoming Test series against West Indies, from which Stuart Broad is also absent.

Both have been left out of the squad for next month's tour after a dismal Ashes series led to the departure of head coach Chris Silverwood.

Interim managing director of cricket Andrew Strauss – who replaced the outgoing Ashley Giles – as well as interim coach Paul Collingwood and head scout James Taylor made up a three-man selection committee ahead of the series, which begins in Antigua on March 8.

Strauss insists there remains a way back for both bowlers, who have taken 1,177 Test wickets between them.

However, Anderson – who turns 40 in July – said on the Tailenders podcast: "I'm praying this isn't the end.

"But if I never play for England again, I know I've got amazing people around me to support me and that's really important."

He confirmed his intention to perform for Lancashire when the County Championship starts in April, with the aim of working his way back into England reckoning.

"I've got one more go at digging deep," Anderson added. "I've got a lot left to offer – I've still got the hunger and passion to play.

"It was a shock and a disappointment to get that call but having processed it, it's important I try to focus on stuff I can control and that's showing people what I can do with the ball in my hand."

Anderson is England's record Test wicket-taker with 640 to his name in 169 matches at an average of 26.58, and has taken five wickets in an innings 31 times, more than any other England bowler.

 

Broad had previously hit out at his own omission, writing in the Daily Mail earlier this month: "I am waking up more confused and angrier with each passing day. I feel gutted. 

"Do I need to prove myself again? In my mind, I've nothing to prove. I am a proven performer, so it is now about the English cricketing summer and targeting the home series against New Zealand in June."

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