In 1948, a Jackie Kyle-inspired team swept all before them in the old Five Nations, while in 2009 it was a side starring another all-time great in Brian O’Driscoll that achieved Ireland’s only other Grand Slam.


Ireland arrive at Twickenham for the St Patrick’s Day clash on an all-time national record of 11 successive Test wins – a sequence that started when they denied England a Grand Slam last year.

England will kick-off on the back of successive away defeats by Scotland and France, but they have yet to lose at home under coach Eddie Jones.


While Schmidt has made just the one change to his side, recalling lock Iain Henderson, Jones has responded to losing back-to-back matches for the first time as England coach by making seven personnel changes and an additional three positional switches.

The most eye-catching sees Owen Farrell move from his regular England position of inside centre to flyhalf, where he plays for European club champions Saracens, in place of the dropped George Ford.

Richard Wigglesworth, who plays alongside Farrell at Saracens, starts at scrumhalf instead of Danny Care following a 16-22 loss to France in Paris, while injuries to Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes have led to an enforced rejigging of the back-row forwards.

Fit-again England captain Dylan Hartley returns at hooker after a calf injury kept him out of the France game.

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Recent results:

2017: Ireland won 13-9, Aviva Stadium
2016: England won 21-10, London
2015: England won 21-13, London
2015: Ireland won 19-9, Dublin
2014: England won 13-10, London
2013: England won 12-6, Dublin
2012: England won 30-9, London
2011: England won 20-9, Dublin
2011: Ireland won 24-8, Dublin
2010: Ireland won 20-16, London
2009: Ireland won 14-13, Dublin

Prediction: A fortnight ago the rugby world would have expected an English victory, but then Scotland and France happened, while Ireland have been thriving. The only thing counting in England’s favour right now is the Twickenham factor, while for Ireland, wouldn’t it be fitting to celebrate a Grand Slam victory on St Patrick’s Day in London? It is going to close encounter but, Ireland should win this by +3.



England: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Don Armand, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Mike Brown.


Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Christiaan Stander, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 James Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour.

Date: Saturday, March 17
Venue: Twickenham, London
Kick-off: 14.45 (14.45 GMT)
Expected weather conditions: Rain and snow are expected in London. A high of 1°C and a low of -1°C.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Nigel Owens (Wales)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)


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