Rome prepares for Six Nations rugby

Rome to host England and Scotland Six Nations rugby games.

The 17th edition of the annual Six Nations rugby union championship – which is contested by England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales – kicks off on 6 February and finishes on 19 March.

Over the course of the 15-match tournament, Ireland will attempt to retain its reigning champion title, and all sides will try to avoid being handed the dreaded "wooden spoon" which last year was awarded to Scotland. Italy hosts two games at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico: first against England on 14 Feb, then against Scotland on 27 Feb.

The other three Italian games see Italy take on France in Paris (6 Feb), Ireland in Dublin (12 March), and Wales in Cardiff (19 March).

The French coach of the Italian team, Jacques Brunel, who will be hoping to improve on Italy's second-last placing on the league table last year, is trying some new faces for the first couple of games, and his 30-man squad includes 10 uncapped players.

Each year rugby becomes more popular in Italy (helped no end by Italy's stunning 22-15 defeat of Ireland in Rome three years ago), and thousands of English and Scottish fans are expected to descend on the Italian capital this month.

For those unable to attend the stadium, here is a short list of the best bars in the city to watch the games. The largest screens are guaranteed at Scholars Lounge and the Druid’s Rock; for lively atmosphere (particular for the Italy games) head to The Shamrock or Camden Town; while the city’s English, Irish, Welsh, Scottish and French rugby fans can be found mingling with Italian regulars at pubs such as the Fiddler’s Elbow and Finnegans.

For full details see Six Nations website.