England will be without captain Owen Farell for the 2024 Six Nations after he made himself unavailable “in order to prioritise his and his family’s mental wellbeing”.
With several key players announcing their international retirement, including second-row Courtney Lawes, wing Jonny May and scrum-half Ben Youngs, Steve Borthwick has a rebuilding job on his hands following England’s third-place finish at the 2023 World Cup.
However, they enter this transition phase between tournaments much more optimistic than they were at the start of the World Cup. England arrived in France as distant outsiders after a disappointing run of results under Borthwick, including finishing fourth in the 2023 Six Nations and losing to Fiji for the first time in the last of their warm-up matches before the tournament.
However, the side’s performance, particularly their semi-final showing against champions South Africa, helped to silence their critics and win back the hearts of English fans.
Six Nations Grand Slam-holders Ireland will be hoping to retain their crown, but they must do so without their fly-half and captain Johnny Sexton, as well as winger Keith Earls, who both retired at the end of the World Cup.
They face stiff competition from France, whose dreams of home World Cup glory were dashed by eventual champions South Africa in the quarter-final, and Scotland, who were unable to overcome either Ireland or South Africa to make it out of their pool.
Wales too will have a point to prove after losing out in the World Cup quarter-finals to Argentina, while Italy will hope to bounce back having failed to make it out of their pool and been blown away by finalists New Zealand.
When is the 2024 Six Nations?
The 2024 Six Nations gets under way on February 2, 2024 at 8pm (GMT) as France host champions Ireland.
The last time either team stepped onto the field at the Stade de France was for the World Cup semi-finals in October, when they were knocked out of the tournament on consecutive nights.
Ireland’s travelling supporters were among the loudest at the the global showpiece with fans and players alike belting out the lyrics to The Cranberries’ Zombie after every win. Expect more of the same during the Six Nations.
England kick-off their tournament against Italy at 2.15pm (GMT) on February 3, 2024. Steve Borthwick’s side will be hoping to improve on their previous showing at the Six Nations after finishing fourth in the standings with 10 points, 17 points behind the winners, Ireland.
How to watch the 2024 Six Nations on TV
Fixtures this year are set to be broadcast on both BBC and ITV in the UK. Live streams will be available for free on the BBC iPlayer and ITVX apps, and will be available to download on mobile or tablet devices.
2024 Six Nations fixtures in full
All times GMT
February 2: France v Ireland, 8pm
February 3: Italy v England, 2.15pm; Wales v Scotland, 4.45pm
February 10: Scotland v France, 2.15pm; England v Wales, 4.45pm
February 11: Ireland v Italy, 3pm
February 24: Ireland v Wales, 2.15pm; Scotland v England, 4.45pm
February 25: France v Italy, 3pm
March 9: Italy v Scotland, 2.15pm; England v Ireland, 4.45pm
March 10: Wales v France, 3pm
March 16: Wales v Italy, 2.15pm; Ireland v Scotland, 4.45pm; France v England, 8pm
Who are the favourites to win the 2024 Six Nations?
Ireland and France are the bookies’ favourites, with England a little way behind. Scotland, Wales and Italy are not much favoured
France to win: 6/5
Ireland to win: 6/4
England to win: 11/2
Scotland to win: 14/1
Wales to win: 25/1
Italy to win: 500/1
Odds correct on November 29, 2023