Six Nations

Warburton to miss Six Nations

Warburton hasn't played since July, when he captained the British and Irish Lions to a series draw in New Zealand.

Following rest, he had neck surgery in September so he could return to club action in the new year and be available for another Six Nations tilt.

But Warburton and the Welsh Rugby Union decided that when he returns he should do so free of all aches and pains, so he had his left knee operated on.

Wales' Warburton expecting to miss Six Nations

Warburton was ruled out for four months after undergoing neck surgery on a "long-standing issue" in September.

The flanker led the British and Irish Lions to a 1-1 series draw against New Zealand in June and July, despite struggling with an ankle injury in the build-up to the tour.

Having taken time to get up to speed ahead of the Tests against the All Blacks, Warburton does not anticipate being in a position to play any part for Warren Gatland's side in February and March.

Touch and go for Hartley to make Lions

The BBC is reporting lock Joe Launchbury and centre Jonathan Joseph are both in danger of being shock exclusions from Warren Gatland's squad.

While England's New Zealand born captain Dylan Hartley's chances are rated as 50-50.

About 14 Englishmen are expected to be included.

Rookie prop Kyle Sinckler and centre Ben Te'o look likely to make the cut.

Gatland is set to name his squad of 37-39 players tomrrow night.

Gatland and his coaches will meet for a final selection meeting on Tuesday, with Lions sources insisting nothing is yet set in stone.

Six Nations: England thrash Scotland to equal rugby world record

Yet England, off color so far in this tournament, dazzled at Twickenham to not only retain their Six Nations title but equal the world record of 18 consecutive Test victories for a Tier One side, set by New Zealand last year.

England win Six Nations, equal record

Their performance was encapsulated by a superb hat-trick by recalled centre Jonathan Joseph.

Joseph was dropped for the Italy game two weeks ago but marked his return with an impressive display.

Danny Care got two tries, Anthony Watson and Billy Vunipola one each and the peerless Owen Farrell kicked 26 points as England chalked up their highest score and joint-biggest win in 146 years of the oldest fixture in international rugby to retain the title with a game to spare.

Wales end Ireland's Six Nations hopes

North had been warned about his form by defence coach Shaun Edwards in the build-up to the game and responded by demonstrating his quality and power as Wales scored three unanswered tries in a hard-worked win.

RNZ reports Wales led 8-6 at half time.

Jamie Roberts clinched the game with Wales' third try in the 78th minute.

Ireland's New Zealand coach Joe Schmidt said his side paid a high price for a yellow card handed to first five Johnny Sexton which saw Wales score 10 points in six minutes either side of half-time.

World Cup worries for Wales

The next Rugby World Cup is two-and-a-half years away but it is suddenly looming large for the Welsh after a run of eight losses in its last 13 internationals, two of which have come in the Six Nations against England and Scotland.

Wales has slumped to No 7 in the World Rugby rankings and could plunge to ninth place with losses to Ireland in Cardiff on Friday (Saturday NZ time) and in France on the final weekend. That would mean going into the draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in May out of the top-eight seeds and facing the prospect of playing two top rivals in the pool stage.

Ireland overpower France to top Six Nations

Ireland, who last year beat all three southern hemisphere giants but suffered a surprise defeat in Scotland in their opening game of the championship, went ahead after 29 minutes through a converted try from halfback Conor Murray.

First-five Johnny Sexton, returning to the side after a spate of injuries, gave Ireland a 10-point lead with two penalties and a drop goal early in the second half.

The loss left France, on five points, in the bottom half of the table where they have finished every Six Nations championship for the past five years.

Mako left out, Watson returns

Vunipola has been out since December with a knee injury and had been expected to return for the Twickenham clash on February 26.

That now appears unlikely, although he could feature for Saracens when they take on Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on Friday as he looks to prove his fitness.

Northampton prop Paul Hill has therefore been retained but Wasps' Matt Mullan has been left out.

Kruis out of France clash

Kruis, who had only been given the all-clear to face France last week after recovering from a fractured cheekbone, was forced to miss training on Tuesday with the knee injury.

The Saracens lock will see a specialist on Thursday to determine further management of the injury and head coach Eddie Jones is not giving up hope he will be available later in the tournament.

"We'll have to wait and see what the specialist's prognosis is, but we're not ruling him out of the Six Nations at this stage," said Jones.