The teams have been announced for the first round Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland which takes place on Sunday afternoon at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Kick off 15:00. The match will be broadcast live on Virgin and the BBC.
Ireland tend to view the Six Nations as one of their key goals year on year which leads to comparatively little experimentation. It’s a strategy that ticks a lot of the financial boxes and keeps the corporate sponsors happy but it has one that has failed every World Cup cycle to date.
In the current circumstances, it’s hard to see any of the sides compete with England and France for this season’s title and from the long list of familiar names in the Welsh and the Irish squads it’s looking that both teams have decided on consolidation rather than experimentation. Ireland’s starting XV share 703 caps for an average of 47 per player and the Wales XV weigh in with a colossal 767 caps for an average of 51. (The Ireland squad caps total comes to 887 with 184 caps in the replacements.)
Ireland have made four changes to their starting XV, three due to injury. Garry Ringrose, James Lowe, Tadhg Beirne and Josh van der Flier come in for Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Iain Henderson and Caelan Doris. Lowe, Beirne and Flyer appear to be for injuries with Stockdale and Doris injured and Henderson returning with a bench spot. Ringrose for Aki gives us one small nod towards creativity as opposed to a ferocious physical presence.
Wales, under a bit of pressure after a disappointing Nations Cup, have looked to experience to give coach Wayne Pivac some sort of stability. Most notable is the return of Dan Lydiate to a very experienced back row. Injury sees the introduction of Scarlets Johnny Williams in the centre and lockdown shenanigans sees Gloucester’s Louis Rees-Zammit pick up his fifth cap on the wing.
The FRU Predicts: Under the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in it’s difficult to say which way this one will go. Going on club form, you would expect Ireland to win this one at a canter and they have a very strong looking bench to call on.
However, the modern game depends heavily on discipline, physicality and the ability to make the most of opponents mistakes. Both teams should have the discipline and physicality down pat so whatever team makes the fewest mistakes should win. Wales need this one quite a bit more and that should be enough to see them through in a tense game.
|Leigh Halfpenny||15||Hugo Keenan|
|Louis Rees-Zammit||14||Keith Earls|
|George North||13||Garry Ringrose|
|Johnny Williams||12||Robbie Henshaw|
|Hallam Amos||11||James Lowe|
|Dan Biggar||10||Jonathan Sexton (c)|
|Tomos Williams||9||Conor Murray|
|Wyn Jones||1||Cian Healy|
|Ken Owens||2||Rob Herring|
|Tomas Francis||3||Andrew Porter|
|Adam Beard||4||Tadhg Beirne|
|Alun Wyn Jones (c)||5||James Ryan|
|Dan Lydiate||6||Peter O’Mahony|
|Justin Tipuric||7||Josh van der Flier|
|Taulupe Faletau||8||CJ Stander|
|Elliot Dee||16||Ronan Kelleher|
|Rhodri Jones||17||Dave Kilcoyne|
|Leon Brown||18||Tadhg Furlong|
|Will Rowlands||19||Iain Henderson|
|Josh Navidi||20||Will Connors|
|Gareth Davies||21||Jamison Gibson-Park|
|Callum Sheedy||22||Billy Burns|
|Nick Tompkins||23||Jordan Larmour|