Mako Vunipola has returned to the England squad for Saturday's crucial Six Nations clash with Wales.

The prop had not been expected to be part of Eddie Jones' squad for the Twickenham encounter, having missed England's win over Ireland after travelling to Tonga to visit a seriously ill relative.

However, he is included in Jones' 34-man party as England begin preparations for the visit of Wayne Pivac's team.

Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Jack Maunder has been selected, giving Jones a third option at number nine behind Ben Youngs and Will Heinz, while wing Anthony Watson and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie were also named in the squad.

England bounced back from their opening-round defeat to France with victories over Scotland and Ireland.

They trail leaders France - who face Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday - by four points and know defeat to Wales could spell the end of their hopes of regaining the Six Nations title.

Former England international Chris Ashton has left Sale Sharks with immediate effect.

The 32-year-old wing and the Premiership club have reached an agreement to terminate his contract early in a surprise move.

Sale are second in the standings and Ashton was not included in the squad for their 23-17 win at Gloucester on Friday.

He has scored four tries in seven Premiership appearances this season and will now weigh up a mid-season move to another team.

"Chris Ashton will leave the club with immediate effect," read the club's statement confirming his exit on Monday.

"The club and Chris have reached a mutual agreement regarding the termination of his Sale Sharks contract and he will leave the club immediately.

"Sale Sharks would like to thank Chris for his efforts whilst at the club and wish him and his family all the best for the future."

Ashton was a high-profile addition when he joined from Toulon in 2018, and last played for England – for whom he scored 20 tries in 44 Tests – in February 2019.

Finn Russell has not been named in Scotland's squad for their two remaining Six Nations games but talks have been held with a view to the outcast fly-half touring South Africa and New Zealand.

The Racing 92 playmaker has played no part in the Six Nations after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol" ahead of the opening match against Ireland in Dublin.

It appeared there would be no way back for Russell under Gregor Townsend after he told the Sunday Times there would need to be "big changes" for him to resume his Scotland career, taking a dig at the head coach's style and man-management.

Townsend responded last month by questioning the number 10's commitment to playing for his country, with Russell also have stated the pair have "no relationship".

However, a week before Scotland face leaders France at Murrayfield, Scottish Rugby revealed there has been dialogue, raising the prospect of Russell facing world champions the Springboks and the All Blacks in July. 

"While not named in the squad, positive discussions have taken place with stand-off Finn Russell, with the goal of these being continued over the next few weeks in order for him to be involved in the forthcoming Summer Tests," Scottish Rugby tweeted.

Edinburgh lock Lewis Carmichael was added to the squad to take on Les Bleus and Wales as a replacement for Cornell du Preez, while wing Darcy Graham (knee) will play no part in the tournament.

Rory Kockott missed a late conversion as Bordeaux-Begles survived a scare against Castres to stretch their lead at the summit of Top14 thanks in part to the boot of Ben Botica.

Fly-half Kockott had a chance to tie the scores when Anthony Jelonch crossed five minutes from time at Stade Chaban-Delmas but was unable to split the posts.

It meant Bordeaux – now eight points clear of second-place Lyon – held on for a 26-24 triumph despite being outscored four tries to two on home turf, with Castres settling for a losing bonus point.

Botica was crucial to the win, nailing two penalties that opened up breathing space.

Earlier, Blair Connor and Mahamadou Diaby had crossed for Bordeaux to cancel out Julien Caminati and Rodrigo Capo Ortega scores, with Filipo Nakosi also going over for Castres.

There was late drama at Stade Mayol too, with a last-gasp penalty from Toulon fly-half Louis Carbonel swinging an end-to-end match in his side's favour as they beat Stade Francais 19-18.

The result was cruel on Top 14 strugglers Stade, who recorded tries through Lester Etien and Kylan Hamdaoui to make it 18-16 in the closing minutes.

However, Toulon hit back to grab a victory that moves them into the top four in the standings, while their beaten opponents remain bottom. 

In-form Bristol Bears moved up to third in the Premiership with a 19-13 West Country derby win at Bath and Wasps ended London Irish's winning run on Sunday.

Bath and Bristol started the showdown at a packed Rec on the back of three consecutive victories, but it was Pat Lam's side who remained on a roll to move above Northampton Saints.

Chris Vui reached out to score the opening try just five minutes in and Callum Sheedy produced a moment of magic to set up a second Bristol five-pointer, picking out Alapati Leiua with a pinpoint cross-field kick after creating space with a clever show-and-go.

A second Rhys Priestland penalty just before half-time reduced the deficit to six points, but Harry Randall's try gave Bristol breathing space - Sheedy converting for a second time.

Priestland fed Will Chudley for Bath's only try 15 minutes from time soon after he replaced debutant Rhys Webb, but Bristol hung on to keep their rivals below them in fifth spot and complete a double after hammering them on the opening day.

Wasps are up to sixth after beating the Exiles 36-26 at the Madejski Stadium.

Irish had won three in a row, but Jacob Umaga was among five Wasps try-scorers in an entertaining victory on the road.

Connacht boosted their Pro14 play-off bid with a 29-19 win over the Southern Kings despite Peter Robb's early red card at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday.

The Irish province were emphatically beaten by Edinburgh last time out, but tries from Colby Fainga'a and Tiernan O'Halloran inside the opening six minutes put them in command in Port Elizabeth.

Bottom of Conference B with just one win to their name, the Kings were given real hope when Robb was dismissed for striking Howard Mnisi with a forearm when seemingly attempted to fend him off soon after replacing the injured Matt Healy.

There was only 16 minutes gone when the centre was given his marching orders, but Connacht were not to be denied victory, Jack Carty claiming a 12-point haul - including a try - as they moved just two points behind the Scarlets.

Erich Cronje's double was not enough to inflict a shock defeat on Connacht, who face the Scarlets in a crunch clash at the Sportsground on Friday.

Joris Jurand scored a first-half hat-trick as Brive handed second-placed Lyon a shock 30-16 defeat in Top 14.

With leaders Bordeaux-Begles not in action until their match with Castres on Sunday, Lyon had the chance to reach the summit but fluffed their lines as Brive earned an impressive home victory.

Jurand was the hosts' hero with three tries in the space of 20 minutes before the break as his side sprinted into a 27-6 lead at the interval.

Thibault Regard and Hamza Kaabeche replied for Lyon in the second half but it was too late for them to force their way back into the contest.

It is now only two wins from six games for Lyon across all competitions.

Defending champions Toulouse also went down to an away defeat on Saturday, as Bayonne recorded a 20-10 triumph.

A close encounter did not produce a try until Pierre Fouyssac crossed on the hour mark to put the visitors narrowly ahead.

But Romain Barthelemy's four second-half penalties had Bayonne back in front before Samoa International Alofa Alofa's try put the result beyond doubt.

Racing 92 are third after they scored seven tries as La Rochelle endured a 49-0 humiliation.

Teddy Baubigny and Scotland exile Finn Russell helped Racing into a 15-point lead after 16 minutes but the floodgates opened after Dorian Laborde's try on the stroke of half-time.

Olivier Klemenczak, Fabien Sanconnie, Maxime Machenaud and Hassane Kolingar all went over as victory ensured Racing sit four points clear of their opponents in the race for a play-off spot.

Elsewhere, two tries from Peceli Yato helped Clermont Auvergne to a 32-15 win away to Agen, while a late score from Nicolas Corato was the difference as Pau battled to a much needed 19-15 home victory against Montpellier.

Gavin Coombes scored two tries in the last nine minutes as Munster made their numerical advantage count in a 29-10 home win over Scarlets in Pro14.

Sam Lousi was sent off in the first half and the Welsh side were down to 13 men by the time Coombes scored his late double after Tevita Ratuva was sent to the sin-bin.

Scarlets were still within a try before forward Coombes ensured Munster opened up an eight-point advantage over their opponents in the Conference B table.

Second-placed Munster are within two of leaders Edinburgh after their fourth straight win across all competitions.

It was a performance that only got going after Lousi saw red six minutes before the interval for aiming two punches at Fineen Wycherley.

Amid difficult conditions at Thomond Park, Jack O'Sullivan scored the game's first try a minute after the dismissal to give his side a 10-3 half-time lead.

Javan Sebastian kept Scarlets in it when he responded to Munster's second try, which was scored by skipper Billy Holland, but Ratuva's exit ended any hopes of a comeback as Coombes crossed twice to earn Munster a bonus point.

In Saturday's other game, Dragons came back from 10 points down to earn a 13-10 triumph over Cheetahs.

Sam Davies scored the winning penalty five minutes after the allocated 80 were up after Jared Rosser had crossed to give the home side hope.

The visiting Cheetahs earlier raced into a double-figure lead inside 18 minutes after Junior Pokomela's converted try was followed up by a Tian Schoeman penalty.

But Cheetahs were pegged back by Dragons and then took a risk that did not pay off when they kicked for the corner rather than at goal with a penalty as the match was level at 10-10 late on.

Defeat meant the South African side missed the chance to move above Glasgow Warriors into third in Conference A.

Harlequins scored a penalty try six minutes into added time to earn an extraordinary 34-30 home win over Premiership leaders Exeter Chiefs.

Trailing by three with a one-man advantage after a yellow card for Ollie Devoto, the hosts were applying the pressure at The Stoop before they were handed the try after being awarded a string of penalties.

Quins had earlier scored through Paul Lasike, Tevita Cavubati and Marcus Smith, but a quickfire double from Exeter fly-half Joe Simmonds, who ended the match with 25 points, had put the visitors on the brink of victory.

Phil Dollman was the other try-scorer for Exeter, whose lead over Sale, winners at Gloucester on Friday, now sits at five points. Quins, meanwhile, are up to sixth and only trail the top four by two.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Saracens recovered from a nightmare start to win 27-21 at third-placed Northampton Saints.

Fraser Dingwall and Harry Mallinder scored in the first six minutes as the hosts earned the first 12 points of the contest.

Rotimi Segun made a swift response for Sarries, who were bidding to bounce back from a humbling loss to Wasps last time out.

And the visitors turned the game around when they seized on a two-man advantage shortly after half-time. With Taqele Naiyaravoro and Lewis Bean in the sin-bin, Jack Singleton and Nick Tompkins dotted down.

Ben Earl later added another try and a bad day for Saints got worse with Wales international Dan Biggar leaving the field with a knee injury in the second half.

Leicester Tigers moved to within a point of fellow strugglers Worcester Warriors with a 14-8 home win.

The two teams only managed one try apiece, Jordan Olowofela replying after Perry Humphreys had put Worcester in front against his former club.

With the match 8-8 at the interval, Johnny McPhillips scored two of his three penalties in the second half.

South African Conference leaders the Stormers saw their perfect start to the Super Rugby season come to an end with a shock 33-14 home defeat to the Blues.

Joe Marchant scored two tries, his first coming after seven minutes before his second on the stroke of half-time ensured the team from Auckland were 13 points clear at the interval.

That lead came despite a spell in the sin-bin for Mark Telea, who took out Sergeal Petersen while the wing was mid-air.

Juarno Augustus and Petersen scored the Stormers' tries in the opening period but that could not prevent their first defeat in five matches as the Blues made it back-to-back victories to remain in the hunt in a competitive New Zealand Conference. 

In addition to Marchant's double, Dalton Papali'I had also scored for the visitors, with 18 points from the boot of Otere Black ensuring the Stormers were kept at bay and held scoreless in the second half of a heavy loss at Newlands.

There was also misery for the other South African side to play at home on Saturday as the Bulls fell to an entertaining 39-24 defeat against the Jaguares.

Emiliano Boffelli scored two of the Argentine side's six tries as they moved to within two points of the Stormers.

The Bulls, seeking to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat, had led 14-10 but Guido Petti and Matias Moroni scored in quick succession before half-time as the match moved decisively in the visitors' favour.

Santiago Socino put the result beyond doubt late on despite the Jaguares' Joaquin Diaz Bonilla being in the sin bin for tackling Rosko Specman on the ground. The Bulls had seen Johnny Kotze yellow carded earlier in the second half for a high tackle.

Kobus van Wyk ran in three of the Hurricanes' 10 tries as they crushed the Sunwolves 62-15 in Super Rugby on Saturday.

The Sunwolves are bottom of the Australian Conference and were completely outclassed, with Van Wyk and Chase Tiatia in inspired form at McLean Park.

Mike Stolberg opened the scoring for the strugglers, but Van Wyk and Tiatia had each crossed twice by half-time as the Hurricanes took complete control.

They had scored three more times - through Ben Lam, TJ Perenara and Gareth Evans - by the time Van Wyk completed his hat-trick in the 56th minute.

Tiatia kicked the conversion following Ngani Laumape's score and also shared a pair of assists with Vince Aso, whose try completed the rout after Siosaia Fifita's consolation.

The Hurricanes are the only side to have beaten the Sharks this season, and the Durban outfit tallied their latest victory in ultimately comfortable fashion at the Reds.

The clash was tight for an hour, with Curwin Bosch's boot proving the difference as the sides traded two tries apiece.

But the Sharks accelerated away in the closing stages, captain Lukhanyo Am and Madosh Tambwe each dotting down at Suncorp Stadium.

Ed Craig's last-ditch Reds response counted for little in a handsome 33-23 Sharks win.

Leinster ran in nine tries as they thrashed Glasgow Warriors 55-19 on Friday to stretch their winning Pro14 run to 13 games.

Ryan Baird and Dave Kearney both scored hat-tricks as Leo Cullen's runaway Conference A leaders cut loose at the RDS, putting the Warriors to the sword.

Reigning champions Leinster wrapped up the bonus point by half-time as the repeat of the 2019 final proved to be lopsided, putting the victors 20 points clear of nearest rivals Ulster in the standings.

Glasgow, who grabbed tries through Tommy Seymour, Kyle Steyn and Alex Allan, remain third.

In Conference B, table-topping Edinburgh won in contrasting fashion, battling their way to a 14-6 triumph over Cardiff Blues.

George Taylor scored the only try of the contest in the first half, charging down a clearance as he created the opportunity for himself.

Simon Hickey kicked the conversion and also slotted over two penalties, with Cardiff's only points coming from the boot of Jason Tovey.

Sale Sharks claimed their seventh win of the Premiership season, temporarily moving them within four points of leaders Exeter Chiefs, with a 23-17 success at Gloucester on Friday.

Sale were on top in the first half but had to wait until the 26th minute and Robert du Preez's first penalty to open the scoring.

They were 10-0 up by the break, however, after a Luke James try, with Bryn Evans stretching their advantage further five minutes after the restart.

Even when Fraser Balmain crossed for Gloucester on 56 minutes, Marland Yarde offered a swift riposte to restore a healthy Sharks lead.

But Billy Twelvetrees, having already kicked a penalty and a conversion, set up a tense finale with a 63rd-minute score, kicking the extras himself.

There would be no dramatic recovery, though, as Du Preez restored some breathing space with another penalty, as Sale saw out the victory.

The Waratahs belatedly kick-started their Super Rugby campaign with a first win of the season on Friday, claiming a 29-17 win over the Lions in Sydney.

Three defeats in as many matches to begin the season had left Rob Penney's side looking hapless, but they finally found their stride against the Lions.

An emphatic start had the Waratahs in complete control after 17 minutes, as they led 19-0 thanks to tries from Gus Bell, Lachlan Swinton and Jack Dempsey – the latter two coming with Ruben Schoeman in the sin bin for sparking a brawl by shoving a prone opponent in the face.

The Lions responded and gave themselves a lifeline with Marnus Schoeman's first try of the day after Swinton saw yellow for a late no-arms tackle on Elton Jantjies.

However, the Waratahs put the game beyond the visitors in the second period, with James Ramm and Tetera Faulkner going over, the latter sealing victory three minutes from the end.

Andrew Kellaway was in fine form as the Rebels ousted the Highlanders in the day's other contest, the visitors triumphing 28-22 for their first away win versus the Dunedin franchise.

Kellaway, who is back in Australia following a stint in England with the Northampton Saints, went over with runaway tries in either half of an entertaining clash.

The Rebels raced into a 21-0 lead inside the opening 22 minutes, but only finished the first half with a rather modest seven-point cushion.

Kellaway's second try gave the Highlanders too much ground to make up despite Scott Gregory touching down in the 63rd minute and Josh Iaone's late penalty leading to an interesting finish.

However, the match was marred by a horrific leg injury to Highlanders captain James Lentjes, who had to be carried off in the first half following an awkward fall after a ruck.

Ireland's Six Nations clash with Italy in Dublin has been called off amid fears over the spread of the Coronavirus.

Andy Farrell's side had been due to host Italy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday March 7 in their penultimate game of the tournament.

However, the outbreak of the virus in northern Italy had led to calls for the game to be postponed.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) met with the country's minister for health, Simon Harris, on Tuesday and it was determined the game should not go ahead.

The matches in the Women's Six Nations and the Under-20 Six Nations have also been postponed.

An IRFU statement read: "The IRFU had a positive meeting with Minister Harris and his advisors today, where we requested a formal instruction as to the staging of the Ireland v Italy international matches over the weekend of 6/8 March.

"At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the Governments' need to protect public health in relation to the Coronavirus.

"We were then advised, formally, that The National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of Public Health.

"The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.

"We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days."

Last weekend saw four football matches in Serie A postponed, including Inter's clash with Sampdoria as part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in Italy.

Inter's Europa League meeting with Ludogorets will be contested behind closed doors on Thursday.

Additionally, this weekend's scheduled Pro14 rugby games between Parma-based club Zebre and Ospreys and Benetton Treviso and Ulster will not go ahead.

Ireland suffered their first defeat of the tournament as they were beaten 24-12 by England at Twickenham last Sunday. 

They are four points behind leaders France in the table. Italy have lost each of their three games and appear destined for another wooden spoon.

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