Six Nations 2020: Teenage winger in Wales squad, Sexton to captain Ireland

International
by RUGBY.com.au staff

The 2020 Six Nations is less than a month away and the squads are beginning to take shape.

With a host of veterans calling it quits after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, this tournament is somewhat of a changing of the guard for many teams.

Everything you need to know about the tournament is right here.

FIXTURES

Round 1 

Saturday February 1/Sunday February 2 (AEDT)

Wales vs Italy, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, 2:15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Ireland vs Scotland, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 4:45pm local, Sunday 3;45am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Sunday February 2/Monday February 3 (AEDT)

France vs England, Stade de France, Paris, 4pm local, Monday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sport

Round 2

Saturday February 8/Sunday February 9 (AEDT)

Ireland vs Wales, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 2:15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Scotland vs England, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, 4:45pm local, Sunday 3:45am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sport

Sunday February 9/Monday March 10 (AEDT)

France vs Italy, Stade de France, Paris, 4pm local, Monday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Round 3

Saturday February 22/Sunday February 23 (AEDT)

Italy vs Scotland, Stadio Flaminio, Rome, 3;15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Wales vs France, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, 4:45pm local, Sunday 3:45am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Sunday February 23/Monday February 24 (AEDT)

England vs Ireland, Twickenham, London, 3pm local, Monday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Round 4

Saturday March 7/Sunday March 8 (AEDT)

Ireland vs Italy, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, 2:15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

England vs Wales, Twickenham, London, 4:45pm local, Sunday 3:45am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Sunday March 8/Monday March 9 (AEDT)

Scotland vs France, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, 3pm local, Monday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Round 5

Saturday March 14/Sunday March 15 (AEDT)

Wales vs Scotland, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, 2:15pm local, Sunday 1:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

Italy vs England, Stadio Flaminio, Rome, 5:45pm local, Sunday 3:45am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

France vs Ireland, Stade de France, 9pm local, Sunday 7am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport

ENGLAND

SQUAD

TBC

IRELAND

Johnny Sexton will skipper Ireland in the 2020 Six Nations. Photo: Getty ImagesTalismanic flyhalf Johnny Sexton was on Wednesday named as Ireland captain for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign by new head coach Andy Farrell.

The 34-year-old former world player of the year replaces hooker Rory Best, who retired after Ireland's disappointing quarter-final exit at last year's World Cup.

There are five uncapped players in Farrell's first squad since he took over from Joe Schmidt, who like Best stepped aside following the World Cup after a successful tenure.

The uncapped quintet are Ulster's Billy Burns and Tom O'Toole and the Leinster trio of Max Deegan, Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher.

Flyhalf Burns was a member of the England side that won the Under-20 world title in 2014 but qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather.

Sexton, who failed to shine at the World Cup in Japan, said being made captain was the "biggest honour" of his career.

"I've done it in patches with Ireland in-game when either Rory or Pete (O'Mahony) have gone off in previous games," he said.

"It's something that I enjoy but ultimately it's a huge honour, the biggest honour of my career, to be asked to do it and I'm really looking forward to it and the challenges that are coming up."

Farrell, who was Ireland defence coach under Schmidt, said Sexton had developed as a team leader in recent seasons.

"You can see what it means to him and the enthusiasm he will bring to the role," said Farrell.

"He has been developing as a leader for a number of years with Ireland, Leinster and the (British and Irish) Lions and he will be a positive voice for the group."

SQUAD

Forwards

Max Deegan (Leinster), Caelan Doris (Leinster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Rob Herring (Ulster), Ronan Kelleher (Leinster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Jack McGrath (Ulster), Jack O'Donoghue (Munster), Peter O'Mahony (Munster), Tom O'Toole (Ulster), Andrew Porter (Leinster), James Ryan (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster)

Backs

Will Addison (Ulster), Bundee Aki (Connacht), Billy Burns (Ulster), Ross Byrne (Leinster), Andrew Conway (Munster), John Cooney (Ulster), Keith Earls (Munster), Chris Farrell (Munster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster),  Dave Kearney (Leinster), Jordan Larmour (Leinster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/capt), Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)

FRANCE

Charles Ollivon is the new France captain. Photo: Getty ImagesInexperienced Toulon back-rower Charles Ollivon was named as France captain Wednesday as new head coach Fabien Galthie unveiled a revamped 42-man Six Nations squad featuring a remarkable 19 uncapped players.

Ollivon, 26, who has just 11 international caps, will lead the side for the tournament as Galthie has chosen not to nominate a permanent skipper as was the case in 2016 with Guilhem Guirado, who has since retired from Test rugby.

"It's an honour to be captain of France," said Ollivon.

"It's a somewhat special moment, quite moving," he added. "I can't wait to start the adventure."

World U20 champions Cameron Woki, Louis Carbonel, Jean-Baptiste Gros, Killian Geraci, Arthur Vincent and Demba Bamba are among the uncapped faces in the new-look set-up.

Veterans such as Maxime Medard, Yoann Huget, Wenceslas Lauret and Rabah Slimani, who are all older than 30, miss out.

SQUAD

Forwards

Dorian Aldegheri (Toulouse), Cyril Baille (Toulouse), Demba Bamba (Lyon), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Anthony Etrillard (Toulon), Jean-Baptiste Gros (Toulon), Mohamed Haouas (Montpellier), Julien Marchand (Toulouse), Jefferson Poirot (Bordeaux-Begles), Cyril Cazeaux (Bordeaux-Begles), Killian Geraci (Lyon), Bernard Le Roux (Racing 92), Boris Palu (Racing 92), Romain Taofifenua (Toulon), Paul Willemse (Montpellier), Gregory Alldritt (La Rochelle), Charles Ollivon (Toulon, capt), Dylan Cretin (Lyon), Francois Cros (Toulouse), Alexandre Fischer (Clermont), Sekou Macalou (Stade Francais), Selevasio Tolofua (Toulouse), Cameron Woki (Bordeaux-Begles)

Backs Antoine Dupont (Toulouse), Baptiste Serin (Toulon), Maxime Lucu (Bordeaux-Begles), Romain Ntamack (Toulouse), Louis Carbonel (Toulouse), Mathieu Jalibert (Bordeaux-Begles), Gael Fickou (Stade Francais), Virimi Vakatawa (Racing 92), Arthur Vincent (Montpellier), Julien Heriteau (Toulon), Gervais Cordin (Toulon), Lester Etien (Stade Francais), Gabriel Ngandebe (Montpellier), Damian Penaud (Clermont), Vincent Rattez (La Rochelle), Teddy Thomas (Racing 92), Anthony Bouthier (Montpellier), Kylian Hamdaoui (Stade Francais), Thomas Ramos (Toulouse)

SCOTLAND

Stuart Hogg will captain Scotland in the Six Nations. Photo: Getty ImagesStuart Hogg has been appointed as the new Scotland captain for the Six Nations, the Scottish Rugby Union announced on Wednesday.

The Exeter fullback takes over from Stuart McInally, who led the team out during last year's disappointing World Cup campaign.

With 72 caps Hogg is the most experienced player in the 38-man squad named by Gregor Townsend for this year's championship, which starts for Scotland with a trip to Dublin on February 1.

McInally was given the armband ahead of former skippers Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay for the World Cup in Japan.

But the Edinburgh hooker had a disappointing tournament and was left out of the starting line-up as the Dark Blues saw their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals evaporate with defeat to the hosts in their final pool match.

Laidlaw and Barclay have since announced their retirements from international action.

"Stuart is very passionate about playing for Scotland and he's determined to do all he can to improve Scotland," said head coach Gregor Townsend.

"He really cares about playing for his country, what the jersey represents and also getting the best out of his teammates.

"He's a really intelligent rugby player who is learning and improving with every season. He's very good at bringing others into the game and building relationships with those around him."

Townsend has handed a recall to centres Matt Scott, Huw Jones and Rory Hutchinson after all three were left out of the squad that travelled to the Far East in the autumn but Saracens' Duncan Taylor is a notable absentee.

There are also first call-ups for Gloucester lock Alex Craig, Glasgow wing Ratu Tagive, Glasgow flanker Tom Gordon and Edinburgh number eight Nick Haining.

SQUAD

Forwards 

Simon Berghan (Edinburgh), Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh), Fraser Brown (Glasgow), Alex Craig (Gloucester/ENG), Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh), Scott Cummings (Glasgow), Allan Dell (London Irish/ENG), Cornell du Preez (Worcester/ENG), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh), Tom Gordon (Glasgow), Jonny Gray (Glasgow), Nick Haining (Edinburgh), Stuart McInally (Edinburgh), Willem Nel (Edinburgh), Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh), Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh), George Turner (Glasgow), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh)

Backs

Darcy Graham (Edinburgh), Chris Harris (Gloucester/ENG), Adam Hastings (Glasgow), Stuart Hogg (captain, Exeter/ENG), George Horne (Glasgow), Rory Hutchinson (Northampton/ENG), Sam Johnson (Glasgow), Huw Jones (Glasgow), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh), Sean Maitland (Saracens/ENG), Byron McGuigan (Sale/ENG), Ali Price (Glasgow), Henry Pyrgos (Edinburgh), Finn Russell (Racing 92/FRA), Matt Scott (Edinburgh), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow), Ratu Tagive (Glasgow)

WALES 

Teenager Louis Rees-Zammit has set the Premiership alight. Photo: Getty ImagesTeenager Louis Rees-Zammit's eye-catching season with Premiership side Gloucester has earned him a call-up to holders Wales Six Nations squad who embark on their first campaign under Wayne Pivac.

Rees-Zammit, 18, is one of five uncapped players Pivac has selected in the 38-man squad that begin their defence of the Grand Slam at home to Italy on February 1.

Rees-Zammit on Monday had been awarded a long-term contract by Gloucester for whom earlier this season the wing became the youngest ever Premiership hat-trick scorer.

Pivac has called up England-born Saracens centre Nick Tompkins, who was a member of the England Under-20 side that won the 2014 world championship.

Tompkins, 24, qualifies for Wales through a Welsh grandmother.

The other uncapped players are Sale Sharks prop WillGriff John, Wasps lock Will Rowlands and Scarlets' New Zealand-born wing Johnny McNicholl.

Pivac, who replaced fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland as head coach after the latter stepped down following s highly successful 12-year tenure, has also recalled scrum-half Rhys Webb.

Webb last played Test rugby just over two years ago before joining French club Toulon and ruling himself out of Wales contention because he did not meet the minimum 60-cap selection criteria for players plying their trade outside the country.

However, he is to leave Toulon early to re-join Ospreys as his family failed to settle in France.

The call-up will be a much needed boost for the 31-year-old as he has been told by Toulon owner Bernard Lemaitre he will never play for the club again due to his "dishonest" attitude.

SQUAD

Forwards

Rhys Carre (Saracens/ENG), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Elliot Dee (Dragons), Ryan Elias (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Leon Brown (Dragons), WillGriff John (Sale/ENG), Dillon Lewis (Blues), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Seb Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt), Will Rowlands (Wasps/ENG), Cory Hill (Dragons), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Aaron Wainwright (Dragons), Taulupe Faletau (Bath/ENG), Ross Moriarty (Dragons), Josh Navidi (Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys)

Backs

Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Toulon/FRA), Tomos Williams (Blues), Dan Biggar (Northampton/ENG), Owen Williams (Gloucester/ENG), Jarrod Evans (Blues), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Nick Tompkins (Saracens/ENG), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), George North (Ospreys), Josh Adams (Blues), Owen Lane (Blues), Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets), Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester/ENG), Jonah Holmes (Leicester/ENG), Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Saracens/ENG)

ITALY

Sergio Parisse has been omitted from Italy's Six Nations squad but is still expected to feature in a farewell game during the tournament. Photo: Getty ImagesItaly legend Sergio Parisse was not named in the 35-man squad unveiled on Monday for the Six Nations tournament with Alberto Sgarbi recalled after six years and three newcomers included.

Parisse, 36, had planned to retire after the Rugby World Cup but was denied a farewell appearance when Italy's final pool match against New Zealand was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Despite his omission the talismanic No. 8 with an Italian record of 142 caps is still expected for a farewell match in the Six Nations against either Scotland (February 22) or England (March 14) in the Stadio Olimpico.

"I will face Scotland, England or both, but I will certainly not play the entire Six Nations," Parisse said.

New Italy coach Franco Smith has recalled 33-year-old Benetton centre Sgarbi, who has not played since June 2014, in a team largely made up of players from Italian Pro14 sides Zebre Benetton Treviso.

Smith has included Zebre prop Danilo Fischetti, who was called up for the World Cup but did not play because of the Typhoon, along with Benetton lock Niccolo Cannone and Zebre full-back Michelangelo Biondelli.

"We have a mixed of experienced players and youngsters who want to establish themselves on the international stage," said Smith, who was appointed interim coach after Irishman Conor O'Shea resigned last November after the World Cup.

"Everyone's contributions will be crucial from the start to prepare the opening game of a Championship which gets more competitive and compelling all the time."

Italy open their Six Nations campaign against champions Wales on February 1 in Cardiff.

The last Italian victory in the tournament was against Scotland in Edinburgh in February 2015, while at home the Azzurri have not won since March 2013, when they beat Ireland in Rome.

The Italy squad will meet in Rome for a training camp between January 19 and 26.

SQUAD

Forwards

Pietro Ceccarelli (Edinburgh/SCO), Danilo Fischetti (Zebre), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre), Marco Riccioni (Benetton), Giosue Zilocchi (Zebre), Luca Bigi (Zebre), Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre), Federico Zani (Benetton), Dean Budd (Benetton), Niccolo Cannone (Argos Petrarca Rugby/Benetton), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), David Sisi (Zebre), Alessandro Zanni (Benetton), Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton), Giovanni Licata (Zebre), Johan Meyer (Zebre), Sebastian Negri (Benetton), Jake Polledri (Gloucester/ENG), Abraham Steyn (Benetton)

Backs

Callum Braley (Gloucester/ENG), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Marcello Violi (Zebre), Tommaso Allan (Benetton), Carlo Canna (Zebre), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre), Tommaso Boni (Zebre), Luca Morisi (Benetton), Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton), Mattia Bellini (Zebre), Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton), Michelangelo Biondelli (Fiamme Oro Rugby/Zebre), Jayden Hayward (Benetton), Matteo Minozzi (Wasps/ENG), Edoardo Padovani (Zebre), Leonardo Sarto (Benetton)