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  • Date: Saturday February 3, 14:15 GMT
  • Location: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
  • Teams: Italy vs England

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Italy host England in Rome

Italy go into the opening match of the tournament looking to avoid the wooden spoon for the first time since 2015. England are still very much work in progress under Steve Borthwick but will take heart from the World Cup where, after a disasterous build up, they made the semi-finals. At the time of writing, to win the tournament, England are third favourites and are priced at 7/1 with Coral. Italy are rated as the least likely team to win the Six Nations, they are 500/1 with Coral.

For more information check out our Six Nations tournament preview before making your picks.


Italy will hope to make home advantage count and get off to a flyer as they look to avoid finishing bottom of the table. Italy were given a tough task in the  Rugby World Cup, where they were drawn in the same pool as New Zealand and France.

Gonzalo Quesada has named his first side since he replaced Kieran Crowley as head coach. Lock Federico Ruzza is set to win his 50th cap, while the Garbisi brothers are set to start together for the first time. Paolo will be at fly-half with Alessandro at scrum-half. Tommasso Menoncello comes back in after injury ruled him out of the world cup.

Italy: Allan; Capuozzo, Brex, Menoncello, Ioane; P Garbisi, A Garbisi; Fischetti, Lucchesi, Ceccarelli, N Cannone, Ruzza, Negri, Lamaro (capt), L Cannone.

Replacements: Nicotera, Spagnolo, Zilocchi, Zambonin, Iachizzi, Zuliani, Varney, Pani


England are making progress under Borthwick and while it often isn’t pretty it is often pretty effective. After making the semi-final stage at the World Cup they will be keen to improve on last year’s fourth placing in the Six Nations. Given the quality of Ireland and France, winning the tournament may be a tough ask but Borthwick will at least want to live up to their third favourites tag. A positve start in Rome is essential.

England received two blows to their hopes for the tournament before the turn of the year. Skipper Owen Farrell has opted out of the tournament to focus on the mental well-being of himself and his family, while Henry Arundell’s decision to sign a contract with Racing 92 has resulted in the exciting wing being made unavailable for selection due to an RFU ruling.

Ethan Roots and Fraser Dingwall will make their England debuts against Italy. Dingwall, 24, is named at inside centre alongside the returning Henry Slade and Roots will start at blind-side flanker. George Ford will provide experience from fly-half. The uncapped trio of Chandler Cunningham-South, Fin Smith and Immanuel Feyi-Waboso are on the bench.

England: Steward; Freeman, Slade, Dingwall, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Marler, George (capt), Stuart, Itoje, Chessum, Roots, Underhill, Earl.

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Cole, Coles, Cunningham-South, Care, F Smith, Feyi-Waboso


Italy are an improving side, but they still have a way to go before they can consistently beat their five rivals in this tournament. England under Borthwick proved in the World Cup that they have a knack for finding a way to get the job done. Which they will put to good use in Rome. Away win.

Italy vs England
IT Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
, Six Nations Rugby 2024
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Odds correct as of 15/01/24 at 10:30. Odds subject to change

Check the best bookmakers for the Six Nations and the best betting sites for rugby union.

Check out our guide to France vs Ireland.

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Chris is a former athlete and a qualified PE teacher. He is a keen football fan, watching many matches at different levels throughout the season, and enjoys following many different sports. With betting and sports sites, he has a keen eye for detail and can to highlight positives and negatives for users. His experience in sport as a performer, teacher, writer and fan allows him to see things from many different perspectives. Editorial Promise