World Rugby

Guinness Six Nations: Added Spice In Age-Old England Vs. Wales Rivalry

Guinness Six Nations: Added Spice In Age-Old England Vs. Wales Rivalry

Warren Gatland fires back at Immanuel Feyi-Waboso for choosing England over Wales ahead of their 2024 Guinness Six Nations Championship clash at Twickenham.

Feb 9, 2024
Guinness Six Nations: Added Spice In Age-Old England Vs. Wales Rivalry

Any match between England and Wales carries a level of ferocity and rivalry to which few other tests come close. 

A sense of national pride always underlines the final result, and in years gone by, it often determined who went on to win the Six Nations. 

While neither nation is tipped to win it all this time around, there’s still plenty riding on the head-to-head match.

For England, it’s a chance to maintain its winning record in the competition following a tight victory over Italy last weekend. While the performance was far from perfect, there were enough signs England could push on and potentially become a genuine contender. 

History also is on England's side. 

Over the past decade, England has turned Twickenham into a fortress, so much so that you have to go back to 2012 to find the last time Wales beat England at Twickenham in the Six Nations. 

If Warren Gatland’s team is to break that duck, it'll need the youngsters to raise their games and replicate what they achieved in the second half at the Principality on Saturday, scoring 26 unanswered points against Scotland.  

However, they ended up losing that match by a single point, having fallen to a 27-point deficit, giving Scotland its first win at the Principality since 2002.

Team news 

Warren Gatland has made seven changes to the team that lost to Scotland last weekend. 

The halfback partnership of Tomos Williams and Ioan Lloyd have been promoted after impressing off the bench at the Principality, while George North returns to outside center for his 50th Six Nations appearance.

The big news is the complete overhaul at the front row, which sees Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee and Keiron Assiratti all line up together at the front of the scrum. 

Meanwhile, blindside flanker Alex Mann gets a look-in in the back row after scoring on debut last Saturday, and Archie Griffin makes it onto the bench, setting up a potential international debut for the Bath youngster. 

Steve Borthwick was sufficiently satisfied with the show put on by his side against Italy as he’s opted to field the same starting XV against Wales. 

That means all five debutants from last weekend have the chance to cement their spots in the side, with Ethan Roots and Fraser Dingwall both keeping their starting roles. 

Jamie George remains captain, while Ellis Genge’s inclusion on the bench in place of Beno Obano is the only change to the overall squad. 

The main focus, though, will be on Cardiff-born Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who is set to make an appearance off the bench against his country of birth a mere month after he changed allegiances to England.

Key Head-To-Head Factors

The return of North will bring some much-needed metal to the Welsh center pairing. Of course, with Nick Tompkins beside him, the duo has a wealth of international experience, which will put England’s relative newcomer, Fraser Dingwall, under considerable pressure.  

He, of course, will have Henry Slade beside him to ease the strain, but Dingwall no doubt will be targeted by the Welsh midfield to test his poise. How he deals with that may determine how effective the English attack is; however, the real battle that may define the match will be at the breakdown. 

With Tommy Reffell suiting up once more, Wales has one of the very best jackals in the game reporting for duty. Last week, the Leicester Tigers' flanker won three turnovers – more than any other player in Round 1.

To dispel that threat, Borthwick has recalled last week’s player of the match, Ethan Roots. For the duration of Saturday, Roots will be deployed to hit rucks whenever possible, nullifying the threat Reffell poses. 

The degree to which he is successful could determine the result.


A lot has been said in the past week about the atmosphere at Twickenham, with accusations flying that the home of English rugby lacks a bit of bite. 

However, despite what the naysayers think, Twickenham still is a foreboding ground that unnerves most international outfits. 

For Wales, it will be no different, especially given how young the visiting squad is, as it will be the first time many of them have played in southwest London, and adapting to that new setting won’t be easy for the men in red. 

Installing a new-look front row and an extremely inexperienced fly-half is a huge gamble in positions that often require poise and tactical nous. 

England has more than enough older heads in those roles to dictate the flow of the game and the set-piece. And not only that, England has history on its side. 

Wales hasn't won at Twickenham in the Six Nations for over a decade, and even though it showed spirit to fight back against Scotland last weekend, it’s unlikely another miracle will materialize this Saturday. 

In the end, England should emerge as a comfortable winner.

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