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Pembrokeshire-born Stephen Varney returns to Italy side to face Wales

(Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images)

Gloucester scrum-half Stephen Varney will return to the Italy team for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Wales in Rome.


Varney missed Italy’s match with Ireland last month after suffering an injury during the warm-up.

Varney, who was born in Wales but qualifies for Italy through his mother, now returns as one of five changes.

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Eddie Jones & Owen Farrell England vs France Six Nations Press Conference

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Eddie Jones & Owen Farrell England vs France Six Nations Press Conference

He resumes his half-back partnership with Paolo Garbisi, while wing Mattia Bellini replaces an injured Luca Sperandio.

Elsewhere, switches in the pack see starts for props Danilo Fischetti and Giosue Zilocchi, in addition to lock Niccolo Cannone.

Italy host Wales after suffering comprehensive Six Nations defeats this season against France, England and Ireland, while their last victory in the tournament came six years ago when they toppled Scotland at Murrayfield.

Italy team: J Trulla (Calvisano); M Bellini (Zebre), J-I Brex (Benetton), C Canna (Zebre), M Ioane (Benetton); P Garbisi (Benetton), S Varney (Gloucester); D Fischetti (Zebre), L Bigi (Zebre, capt), G Zilocchi (Zebre), N Cannone (Benetton), D Sisi (Zebre), S Negri (Benetton), J Meyer (Zebre), M Lamaro (Benetton).


Replacements: O Fabiani (Zebre), A Lovotti (Zebre), M Riccioni (Benetton), M Lazzaroni (Benetton), M Mbanda (Zebre), M Violi (Zebre), F Mori (Calvisano), E Padovani (Benetton).


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finn 5 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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