With the start of the 2017 RBS 6 Nations a mere two weeks away, today we’re taking a look at the squads announced ahead of the tournament. Below are all the tournament squads, plus a little breakdown from us.*Ireland squad now included
The tournament kicks off on Saturday 4 February, with Scotland vs Ireland the first match, followed by England vs France, then Italy vs Wales on the Sunday.
Reigining Grand Slam champions England have called up debutants Mike Williams (Leicester), Alex Lozowski (Saracens) and Nathan Catt (Bath) to the 34-man squad before their first game of 2017 against France in Paris on February 4th.
Head coach Eddie Jones also welcomes back key players Maro Itoje, Anthony Watson, Jack Clifford and Jack Nowell.
Jones’ side went unbeaten in 2016, backing up the clean sweep in the 6 Nations with a whitewash of Australia down under in the summer.
“This time last year I said the long-term strategy for England is to develop a side who can be the most dominant team in world rugby,” Jones said.
“Obviously I’ve been pleased with how the team’s progressing, but there’s still plenty to improve on.
Nathan Catt (Bath Rugby), Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby), Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers), Jamie George (Saracens), Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Tommy Taylor (Wasps), Mike Williams (Leicester Tigers), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)
Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Alex Lozowski (Saracens), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Marland Yarde (Harlequins), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)
Edinburgh’s Simon Berghan and Cornell du Preez are the only uncapped players to make Vern Cotter’s final 6 Nations squad before the Kiwi departs for Montpellier in the summer, but stand-out prop Willem Nel has been ruled out of the tournament completely with a neck injury.
Returing to the national sqaud are centres Matt Scott – who has shown outstanding form for new club Gloucester of late – and Saracens’ Duncan Taylor.
Cotter said: “It’s a well-balanced and exciting group that have played a lot of rugby together, know each other well and are ambitious to do well in a Scotland jersey.
“I think if we get our mind-set right we can be competitive and push for wins in every game in this campaign.”
Forwards: Alex Allan, Zander Fagerson, Gordon Reid (all Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan, Allan Dell, Willem Nel (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors), Ross Ford, Stuart McInally (both Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Richie Gray (Toulouse), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby), Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby), John Barclay (Scarlets), Cornell Du Preez, John Hardie, Hamish Watson (all Edinburgh Rugby), Rob Harley, Josh Strauss, Ryan Wilson (all Glasgow Warriors)
Backs: Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester), Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell (all Glasgow Warriors), Duncan Weir (Edinburgh Rugby), Mark Bennett, Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors), Huw Jones (Stormers), Matt Scott (Gloucester), Duncan Taylor (Saracens), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors), Damien Hoyland (Edinburgh Rugby), Sean Maitland (Saracens), Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Tim Visser (Harlequins)
A new year and surprisingly, a new captain. Sam Warburton’s decision to stand down as Wales’ skipper was mooted earlier this month, then confirmed soon after. Vastly experienced second row Alun-Wyn Jones will take this role as interim coach Rob Howley’s side aim to go one better this year and win a first title since 2013.
There are seven new faces in the squad before their first game away to Italy on the 5th. Ospreys flanker Olly Cracknell and lock Rory Thornton, Leicester fly-half Owen Williams, Scarlets wing Steffan Evans, Ashton Hewitt, Aled Davies and Thomas Young are all set to feature at some point.
Forwards: Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rob Evans (Scarlets), Rhodri Jones (Ospreys), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Kristian Dacey (Cardiff Blues), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Bath Rugby), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons), James King (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Olly Cracknell (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester Rugby), Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Thomas Young (Wasps).
Backs: Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Owen Williams (Leicester Tigers), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Ashton Hewitt (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Steffan Evans (Scarlets), George North (Northampton Saints), Liam Williams (Scarlets) Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon).
Conor O’Shea’s first 6 Nations squad is a carbon copy of the group that took part in the end-of-year tests last November. It is a refreshing air of consistency for the Azzurri who have struggled to match the highs of their 2013 campaign where they finished fourth.
The old guards of Sergio Parisse, Edoardo Gori and Luke McLean will once again prove pivotal for the Italians while talents such as Tommaso Allan and Simone Favaro will no doubt play a crucial role throughout the tournament.
Forwards: Pietro Ceccarelli (Zebre Rugby), Dario Chistolini (Zebre Rugby), Lorenzo Cittadini (Aviron Bayonnais/FRA), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby), Sami Panico (Patarò Calvisano), Tommaso D’Apice (Zebre Rugby), Ornel Gega (Benetton Treviso), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Stade Toulousain/FRA), George Fabio Biagi (Zebre Rugby), Joshua Furno (Zebre Rugby), Marco Fuser (Benetton Treviso), Federico Ruzza (Zebre Rugby), Andries Van Schalkwyk (Zebre Rugby), Marco Barbini (Benetton Treviso), Simone Favaro (Glasgow Warriors/SCO), Maxime Mata Mbanda (Zebre Rugby), Francesco Minto (Benetton Treviso), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais/FRA), Abraham Jurgens Steyn (Benetton Treviso)
Backs: Giorgio Bronzini (Benetton Treviso), Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso), Marcello Violi (Zebre Rugby), Tommaso Allan (Benetton Treviso), Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby), Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Treviso), Tommaso Boni (Zebre Rugby), Michele Campagnaro (Exeter Chiefs/ENG), Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre Rugby), Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso), Giovambattista Venditti (Zebre Rugby), Edoardo Padovani (Zebre Rugby)
French coach Guy Novès has kept a largely unchanged squad for his side’s assault at the title, but has called up the uncapped Mohamed Boughanmi (La Rochelle), Arthur Iturria (Clermont), Fabien Sanconnie (Brive) and Geoffrey Palis (Castres).
France showed signs of a return to some sort of form in last season’s end-of-year tests but it remains to be seen whether they can find their championship winning prowess of yesteryear.
They are likely to be without full back Brice Dulin however, after the Racing 92 player was summoned to the French anti-doping agency to face questions on abnormal readings on a fat-burning substance in a recent drugs test. Dulin denies breaching the anti-doping code and considered the findings “incomprehensible.”
Forwards: Eddy Ben Arous (Racing 92), Cyril Baille (Stade Toulousain), Uini Atonio (La Rochelle), Rabah Slimani (Stade Français), Mohamed Boughanmi (La Rochelle), Guilhem Guirado (Toulon), Camille Chat (Racing 92), Clément Maynadier (Bordeaux-Bègles), Julien Le Devedec (Brive), Yoann Maestri (Toulouse), Arthur Iturria (Clermont), Sébastien Vahaamahina (Clermont), Damien Chouly (Clermont), Fabien Sanconnie (Brive), Loann Goujon (Bordeaux-Bègles), Kevin Gourdon (La Rochelle), Louis Picamoles (Northampton), Raphaël Lakafia (Stade Français)
Backs: Baptiste Serin (Bordeaux-Bègles), Maxime Machenaud (Racing 92), Jean-Marc Doussain (Toulouse), Camille Lopez (Clermont), Gaël Fickou (Toulouse), Yann David (Toulouse), Wesley Fofana (Clermont), Rémi Lamerat (Clermont), Djibril Camara (Stade Français), Yoann Huget (Toulouse), Geoffrey Palis (Castres), Noa Nakaitaci (Clermont), Scott Spedding (Clermont), Virimi Vakatawa (FFR)
Joe Schmidt has named three uncapped players in his Ireland squad for the opening two rounds, including brothers Niall and Rory Scannell. The Munster duo are joined by provincial teammate Andrew Conway in the 40-man squad selected by Schmidt.
Rory Best, who won his 100th cap for Ireland in November, will once more lead the side with Jamie Heaslip named as his vice-captain.
Forwards: Finlay Bealham (Connacht), Rory Best (Ulster) (c), Jack Conan (Leinster), Ultan Dillane (Connacht), Tadhg Furlong (Leinster), Cian Healy (Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Leinster) (vc), Iain Henderson (Ulster), Billy Holland (Munster), Dave Kilcoyne (Munster), Dan Leavy (Leinster), Jack McGrath (Leinster), Sean O’Brien (Leinster), Tommy O’Donnell (Munster), Peter O’Mahony (Munster), Donnacha Ryan (Munster), John Ryan (Munster), Niall Scannell (Munster), CJ Stander (Munster), Devin Toner (Leinster), James Tracy (Leinster), Josh van der Flier (Leinster)
Backs: Tommy Bowe (Ulster), Andrew Conway (Munster), Keith Earls (Munster), Craig Gilroy (Ulster), Robbie Henshaw (Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Ulster), Rob Kearney (Leinster), Kieran Marmion (Connacht), Luke Marshall (Ulster), Stuart McCloskey (Ulster), Luke McGrath (Leinster), Conor Murray (Munster), Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht), Garry Ringrose (Leinster), Rory Scannell (Munster), Jonathan Sexton (Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ulster), Simon Zebo (Munster)