Italy v England: Six Nations 2024 – live
Remember “New England”? Well, they’re back. But New England 2.0 really are quite different, rather than being just an empty soundbite. The long-standing captain Owen Farrell is off to France in the summer having already stepped back from international duty, joining the thrusting young wing Henry Arundell at Racing 92. Red Rose stalwarts such as Courtney Lawes, Ben Youngs and Jonny May are gone for good, retiring from England duty following a third-placed finish at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with the hooker Jamie George taking the captain’s armband.
Northampton’s Fraser Dingwall and Ethan Roots of Exeter both make their debuts in Rome today, with another Saint, Tommy Freeman, lining up on the wing to claim his fourth cap. There are set to be three debutants off the bench, too, with Chandler Cunningham-South (Harlequins), Fin Smith (Northampton), and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso (Exeter) all among the replacements. Unlike last year the head coach, Steve Borthwick, has had more than month to get his ducks in a row, so this is a big tournament for him after that creditable recent effort over in France.
New Italy, meanwhile, means a first crack at the Six Nations for the Azzurri’s new coach, Gonzalo Quesada. The playing staff has a familiar look to it, but can the former Argentina fly-half inject the cohesion and competitiveness that’s often been so sorely lacking for the traditional wooden-spoon champions?