10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The Royal Bank Of Scotland has created a unique virtual rugby kicking environment using inflatable rugby kicking posts for their "Kick For An RBS 6 Nations Ticket" tour of the home nations' capitals throughout January and February. Belfast's Custom House Square was visited on Tuesday, while Cork rugby followers got their chance to test out their kicking skills at Emmet Place on Friday (January 20).
Competitors who managed to kick directly through the middle of the posts had a chance to win a pair of tickets to an Ireland game. Win or lose, no-one left "Kick For An RBS 6 Nations Ticket" empty-handed. There were be RBS mini-rugby balls for everyone who took part and all goal scorers won an official RBS 6 Nations supporter's jersey.
Keith Wood, when asked about the forthcoming 6 Nations Championship at the Belfast event, said of Ireland's prospects: "At the start of every tournament, you want to win your home games - we've got Wales, Scotland and Italy. Scotland have taken a step up but I think we would be a superior side to them.
"We don't really know where Wales are because they have had a lot of injuries but I think we can beat them in Dublin and I think we will beat Italy in Dublin.
"The two away games - against France and England - are obviously the tough ones. I would worry about France, I don't know if we have the gas to compete with France, and England is one where you just turn up and give it your best shot.
"I'd tip France to win the Championship but I think we could be second or third which isn't so bad really for a team which you think is in transition."
Malcolm O'Kelly fields a pass from Keith Wood at the IFSC. O'Kelly, 31, has started every single one of Ireland's 6 Nations games over the past three seasons, bar the 36-15 defeat of Wales at Lansdowne Road in February 2004 (the giant lock was benched).
**All photos by Andrew Paton of Inpho Photography**