Wales are looking for their first win of the 2023 Six Nations

Wales v England was almost not going to happen as players threatened to strike over contract disputes with the Wales Rugby Union – but thankfully strike action was averted.

Wales delayed their team announcement but after meetings with the WRU the game was given the green light. The deal made sees the 60-cap rule reduced to 25, players will be offered fixed and fixed variable contracts and Wales Rugby Player Association chief executive, Gareth Lewis, will have a seat on the Professional Rugby Board.

Captain Ken Owens spoke strongly after the game was confirmed to be going ahead. “The players are satisfied, hence why the game is on,” he said. “It has been very tough, hugely frustrating. It has been a difficult period, but we have fronted up in training and prepared as we would for any Test match and we are looking forward to getting out there and going toe-to-toe with England…

“With the events of the last six to eight weeks everybody in Welsh rugby needs to pull together now to find the best way forward. We need to do it collaboratively to put Welsh rugby back at the top of world rugby, and not the laughing stock which I think we are at the moment.”

Wales are searching for their first win of this year’s tournament. While England are looking to continue their winning run after securing a victory over Italy in round two.

What is the team news for Wales v England?

There are no fresh injury worries for Wales but Warren Gatland has made nine changes to the side that lost to Scotland.

Louis Rees-Zammit makes his first appearance of this year’s tournament and is joined by Leigh Halfpenny in the backline. Mason Grady will win his first cap at outside centre and there is a new half-back pairing in Owen Williams and Tomos Williams, Dan Biggar drops to the bench.

Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Falatau come back in, as does Alun Wyn Jones and Adam Beard.

England, meanwhile, welcomed back Tom Curry to the squad this week only for the player to suffer an injury in training. Ollie Hassell-Collins is the other injury-inflicted player and so Anthony Watson starts on the wing.

The game is Watson’s first international start in two years and he is the only change made by Steve Borthwick to England’s starting squad. Courtney Lawes returns from injury and starts from the bench. Ben Curry is also back in the matchday 23 after being dropped for their match against Italy.

What have the coaches said?

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “There’s some experience coming back into the side with Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Alun Wyn Jones and also Leigh Halfpenny.

“And then we’re mixing that with giving players an opportunity. Owen Williams coming in at ten – we need to find out about that ten position so Owen gets a chance.

“We’ve given Mason Grady a first cap. He’s a big lad, he’s got some really lovely rugby skills and offloading ability. Grady is quick, so he’s the kind of centre that I think is going to have it all going forward.

“He’s got a good rugby head on him. He’s still pretty inexperienced so the big message to him has been ‘what’s the biggest thing you need to work on?’ He said keep talking and keep communicating, so that’s been the focus for him and I’ve been really happy with him in training.”

England head coach Steve Borthwick said: “Wales v England in Cardiff is one of the iconic rugby fixtures, steeped in history and always full of passion. We know the Principality Stadium crowd will be in full voice and we will have to be at our very best to repeat the success we had in the last round against Italy.

“I have selected a team that I think has the right players and balance to meet the particular challenges we will face this weekend.

“I am delighted to have welcomed Courtney Lawes back to the squad after injury. His quality and experience has contributed to a focused training week, marked by the sort of competition and intensity we expect. I could not have asked any more from all the players and there is no doubt that they can’t wait to be a part of this special occasion.”

Any interesting statistics about Wales v England?

  • Wales have not lost their opening three matches in a Six Nations tournament since 2007.
  • Wales and England have played each other 138 times. England have won 66 of the encounters and Wales have been victorious 60 times, 12 matches were draws.
  • 2017 was the last time England defeated Wales in Cardiff during the Six Nations.
  • England missed the most tackles they ever have (41) in a Six Nations against Italy in the last round.
Wales v England

Maro Itoje is tackled (Getty Images)

What time does it kick-off and is it on TV?

Read more: How to watch the Six Nations from anywhere

The match will kick-off at 4.45pm GMT on Saturday, 25 February. Fans in the UK can watch the game on BBC One with coverage beginning at 4pm.

BBC Radio 5 Live will also have coverage of the fixture.

The referee will be Mathieu Raynal (FFR) with assistants Andrew Brace (IRFU) and Pierre Brousset (FFR). The television match official is set to be Brian MacNeice (IRFU).

Related: Six Nations referees

What are the full line-ups?

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Josh Adams, Mason Grady, Joe Hawkins, Louis Rees-Zammit; Owen Williams, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Ken Owens (captain), Tomas Francis, Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones, Christ Tshiunza, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Rhys Carre, Dillion Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins, Tommy Reffell, Kieran Hardy, Dan Biggar, Nick Tompkins

England: Freddie Steward; Max Malins, Henry Slade, Ollie Lawrence, Anthony Watson; Owen Farrell (captain), Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Ollie Chessum, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt

Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Courtney Lawes, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Henry Arundell

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