Much has changed since these two sides met at the World Cup, but will the result be different?

Six Nations Ireland v Scotland Preview

Both these teams have points to prove in the Six Nations after hugely disappointing World Cup campaigns. Scotland didn’t make it beyond the pool stages after losing to Ireland and Japan while Irish hopes ended with a heavy defeat by New Zealand in the quarter-finals having also lost to Japan in the group.

Retirements and omissions mean both sides have made changes, with a few new faces in the line-ups too. And there are key questions fans are asking.

Can Ireland break away from Joe Schmidt’s risk-averse structure under new head coach Andy Farrell? Is sticking with the Sexton-Murray half-back combination the right call? How will Scotland fare without maverick fly-half Finn Russell? Does Gregor Townsend have the forwards to match Ireland?

When Ireland and Scotland met on the first weekend of the World Cup, the Irish dominated as the Scots barely got out of the blocks. Townsend’s team will need to start better if they are to deliver some good news for their supporters, but you suspect Ireland’s power, coupled with a little more pizzazz from the likes of Jordan Larmour, will get Farrell’s reign off to a winning start.

Here’s all you need to know about the second match of the 2020 championship…

What’s the big team news?

The men with ‘8’ on their back are both winning their first caps – Caelan Doris in the green of Ireland and Nick Haining in Scotland’s blue. Doris’s Leinster team-mate Ronan Kelleher is set to win his first cap from the bench too.

The major talking point with Ireland, though, is at half-back with Conor Murray picked at nine ahead of John Cooney, who has been in such good form for Ulster. Farrell has opted for Murray’s experience, which is understandable given he has lost so much of the spine of the team from recent years with hooker Rory Best retiring and full-back Rob Kearney not included.

Six Nations Ireland v Scotland Preview

Cool runnings: Caelan Doris breaks into space for Leinster (Getty Images)

With a debutant at No 8, a hooker with only three Test starts in Rob Herring and Jordan Larmour making only his seventh appearance in the green No 15 jersey, the steadying influence of Murray alongside captain Johnny Sexton is likely to be important. And Cooney will no doubt be eager to prove a point from the bench.

Townsend has made ten changes to the starting XV that lost to Japan at the World Cup. Greig Laidlaw and Tommy Seymour have retired, Finn Russell is not involved after “a breach of team protocol” while Darcy Graham and Magnus Bradbury are injured.

Notable selections are loosehead Rory Sutherland, who is featuring for Scotland for the first time since 2016, and Huw Jones, who returns to the midfield after missing out on a place in the World Cup squad.

What have the coaches said?

Ireland coach Andy Farrell: “I want to see the good old traditions of what all champion Irish teams have been about, a team the Irish public love watching.

“A dominant, aggressive forward pack. Hard to handle, I’ve been on the other side of that. A back-line that contributes to that, but also takes advantage of what they do.”

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend: “We must be a relentless collective on the pitch and a nightmare for the Irish to deal with, while having the ability and awareness to impose our game at that intensity.”

Any interesting statistics?

  • Scotland haven’t beaten Ireland on Irish soil for ten years – a 23-20 win secured with a 78th-minute Dan Parks penalty in 2010 – and that is their only win in Dublin in Six Nations history.
  • Peter O’Mahony recorded the most lineout wins in the 2019 Six Nations – his 31 takes 13 more than any other player – but his impact at the set-piece will be limited in this game as he starts on the bench.
  • Scotland wing Blair Kinghorn made more metres (493) than any other player in last year’s Six Nations.

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

Ireland v Scotland, Saturday 1 February, Aviva Stadium

The second game of round one kicks off at 4.45pm in Edinburgh and is live on ITV and BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, as well as Virgin Media and RTE radio in Ireland.

Mathieu Raynal is referee for this match and is assisted by fellow Frenchman Pascal Gauzere and Federico Anselmi of Argentina. New Zealand’s Glenn Newman is the TMO.

What are the line-ups?

IRELAND: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (captain), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Peter O’Mahony, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Robbie Henshaw.

SCOTLAND: Stuart Hogg (captain); Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Nick Haining.

Replacements: Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, WP Nel, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris.

The March 2020 issue of Rugby World magazine – a Six Nations special – is on sale now.

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