Six Nations 2020: Italy v England preview and teams as Eddie Jones' side seek to win title

Ben youngs running with the rugby ball in his hand for England
Ben Youngs is set to make his 100th appearance for England, the second Englishman to do so after Jason Leonard
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 31 October Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Sounds, with live text on the BBC Sport website and app. Watch highlights on the BBC Sport website and app after the match.

England head into their first game for 238 days knowing that a win against Italy in Rome might not be enough to clinch the Six Nations title.

Eddie Jones’ side must earn a bonus point and hope France beat Ireland without securing one of their own. Even then, England can’t afford for France to secure a greater margin of victory.

If Ireland beat France without a bonus point, the title could come down to points difference.

England’s current deficit is 23 points.

Two England players will reach milestones on Saturday. Scrum-half Ben Youngs will win his 100th cap,external-link becoming the second Englishman to do so after Jason Leonard, while Saracens hooker Jamie George will make his 50th appearance.

Exeter’s double-winning lock Jonny Hill makes his international debut in the second row alongside Maro Itoje. Hooker Tom Dunn and backs Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley are set for their debuts from the bench.

Italy are recovering from last weekend’s punishing 50-17 defeat by Ireland, which was the first men’s Six Nations game in history to be played behind closed doors.

Matteo Minozzi returnsexternal-link at full-back, having played in the Premiership final with Wasps, while Guglielmo Palazanni replaces Callum Braley.

Six Nations table

View from both camps

Italy head coach Franco Smith: “In Ireland we have seen flashes of our game and something positive, but we are aware that we have a lot of work ahead of us. We are a young team that wants to emerge. We continue on our way to build a precise identity.”

England head coach Eddie Jones: “It’s been a difficult time for society. People have lost their jobs, people have lost family members, so we feel absolutely privileged to play and our responsibility is to put a smile on people’s faces.

“The players have approached this camp with a zest for the game that I have never seen before.”


Italy: 15-Matteo Minozzi, 14-Edoardo Padovani, 13-Luca Morisi, 12-Carlo Canna, 11-Mattia Bellini, 10-Paolo Garbisi, 9-Marcello Violi; 1-Danilo Fischetti, 2-Luca Bigi (C), 3-Giosue Zilocchi, 4-Marco Lazzaroni, 5-Niccolo Cannone, 6-Sebastian Negri, 7-Braam Steyn, 8-Jake Polledri.

Replacements: 16- Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17- Simone Ferrari, 18- Pietro Ceccarelli, 19- David Sisi, 20- Johan Meyer, 21- Maxime Mbanda, 22- Guglielmo Palazzani, 23- Federico Mori.

England: 15-George Furbank, 14-Anthony Watson, 13-Jonathan Joseph, 12-Henry Slade, 11-Jonny May, 10-Owen Farrell (C), 9-Ben Youngs, 1-Mako Vunipola, 2-Jamie George, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 4-Maro Itoje, 5-Jonny Hill, 6-Tom Curry, 7-Sam Underhill, 8-Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16-Tom Dunn, 17-Ellis Genge, 18-Will Stuart, 19-Charlie Ewels, 20-Ben Earl, 21-Dan Robson, 22-Ollie Lawrence, 23-Ollie Thorley.

Italy have lost all 26 of their fixtures against England

Match facts


  • England have scored 814 points in 20 Six Nations matches against Italy, with an average of 40.7 points per game.
  • Italy have finished within seven points of England on four occasions in the Six Nations; three of those have been at home.
  • The biggest victory in the Six Nations came in 2001, when England defeated Italy 80-23 at Twickenham.


  • Italy’s only win in their past 32 Six Nations matches came against Scotland in February 2015.
  • The Azzurri have scored the fewest tries in the 2020 competition, with five.
  • Edoardo Padovani has scored seven tries in his last 12 matches for Italy, having failed to score in his first 13 Tests.


  • England are attempting to win their seventh Six Nations title.
  • They have won half of their past 12 Six Nations games.
  • Owen Farrell has kicked the most conversions (9) but missed the most tackles (12) in this year’s competition.

Match officials

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

Touch judges: Alex Ruiz (France) & Mike Adamson (Scotland)

TMO: Romain Poite (France)

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