England v Wales: Five talking points ahead of Six Nations clash including the Twickenham factor

Planet Rugby

Maro Itoje celebrates a Wales knock-on in England's Rugby World Cup warm-up victory.

It promises to be an absorbing contest between England and Wales at Twickenham as Saturday’s Six Nations schedule ends with another battle between these old foes.

The Red Rose started their campaign with a 27-24 win over Italy in Rome, while Wales almost fought back to stun Scotland, but eventually lost out 27-26 in Cardiff.

Here’s a look at some of the talking points heading into this week’s clash.

England’s magnificent seven

England have a strong record against Wales at Twickenham since losing to them in 2012. Centre Scott Williams’ late try clinched a Six Nations Triple Crown that day, but Wales have come unstuck on five subsequent Six Nations visits.

The shining light from a Welsh perspective was their 2015 World Cup pool victory over England, but it is seven defeats on the bounce at English rugby headquarters following that 28-25 success, with England winning four Six Nations Tests, two World Cup warm-up games and a summer international.

Wales can take heart from five of those reversals being by six points or fewer, but they face a tough ask to turn things around.

Milestone for George North

Wales are boosted by the return after injury of centre George North for their trip to south-west London. North, who wins his 119th cap, is the solitary player in Saturday’s matchday 23 to have been part of a winning Wales team at Twickenham, while he also clocks up 50 Six Nations games.

Only four other players have reached a half-century in the competition for Wales – Alun Wyn Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams.

North, who made his Six Nations bow against France in Paris 13 years ago, remains an integral part of head coach Warren Gatland’s plans.

The Immanuel Feyi-Waboso story

The flying Exeter wing pledged allegiance to England and made his debut off the bench against Italy last weekend, despite being born and raised in Cardiff.

It prompted Wales boss Gatland to remark last month that his decision had not gone down well across the border and this week Gatland also brought up the prickly reaction of assistant coach Neil Jenkins when it emerged Immanuel Feyi-Waboso had chosen England.

“Jenks has made that comment in jest to me in the room. I said: ‘he’s made a decision to play for England,’ and Jenks being the ultra-proud Welshman as he is, kind of said… ‘if he doesn’t want to play for Wales then b****r him’,” he said ahead of Saturday.

“I love that, it’s just showing how proud you are to be Welsh. If you don’t want to be Welsh then p*** off.”

Pump up the Twickenham volume

England return to their home ground for the first time since they were booed during a shock Rugby World Cup warm-up defeat against Fiji. Steve Borthwick’s team went on to finish third in the global tournament, and they host Wales on the back of an opening Six Nations victory over Italy.

The Twickenham atmosphere in recent times has undoubtedly been flat, and changes introduced to the matchday experience include an increase in length of the players’ walk through the crowds from their bus to the changing room.

Will this have the desired effect or is this a fruitless exercise attempting to create a buzz that shouldn’t have to be created?

Ioan Lloyd in the spotlight

Former Bristol back Ioan Lloyd makes his first Wales start on Saturday, and it will be in the number 10 shirt after taking over from the injured Sam Costelow.

The 22-year-old featured twice as a substitute during Wales’ 2020 autumn campaign, but it was more than three years until he reappeared on the international stage, replacing Costelow against Scotland last weekend and helping to orchestrate a spectacular second-half fightback.

Lloyd is among several players in Wales’ matchday 23 never to have played Test rugby at Twickenham, but the visitors need him to thrive if they are to cause an upset this weekend.

READ MORE: England v Wales preview: Red Rose to extend Welsh woe and reign supreme at Twickenham