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Match Countdown: Ireland v Wales

Match Countdown: Ireland v Wales

…Brian’s Former School Top Of The Team Talks…Tommy Ready For Shane Shoot-Out…Ireland Set To Remain Fifth…Links Of The Week…

BRIAN’S FORMER SCHOOL TOP OF THE TEAM TALKS: Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll is pictured above with Robert Young and a group of his class-mates from Willow Park Junior School, on the eve of the Ireland v Wales clash.

Robert’s team talk was chosen from 1,400 videos submitted to www.bethedifference.ie as part of O2’s ‘Be the Difference’ campaign.

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The Willow Park team talk is one of three winning videos that will be played on the big screens at Croke Park this Saturday.

The other winning videos came from Colm Garvey from Cork and Limerick man Patrick Brosnahan.

Brian O’Driscoll celebrates his 100th Irish Test appearance this weekend and Willow Park Junior School was the site of his first ever rugby match as an 11-year-old.

TOMMY READY FOR SHANE SHOOT-OUT: It promises to be the hottest shoot-out in the 2010 RBS 6 Nations – Tommy Bowe v Shane Williams at Croke Park on Saturday.

Bowe, the two-try hero of the Irish victory over England at Twickenham last time out, is set to go head-to-head with his Ospreys team-mate.

In last year’s Irish Grand Slam victory over Wales in Cardiff it was Bowe who raced clear of Williams to clinch a vital try.

But on his last visit to Croke Park, it was Williams who broke Irish hearts with a well-taken try that clinched the Triple
Crown for his country and set up the 2008 Grand Slam.

The Welsh wing wonder has scored in his last two RBS 6 Nations outings – against Scotland and France – and reached 50 tries for his country with his try against the French.

He also overtook Gareth Edwards as Wales’ leading try scorer in Championship history with 19. That score came on his 33rd birthday, but there is little sign of him slowing down.

He has scored 21 tries in his last 24 games for Wales and 23 in his last 26 Test appearances (24 for Wales and 2 for
the British & Irish Lions).

In the RBS 6 Nations he has scored 10 tries in his last 11 games for a try per game ratio of 0.91.

Bowe, meanwhile, blitzed England with two tries in his last game and has 6 tries in his last 11 Championship games for a try per game ratio of 0.55.

During his 28-match Ireland career so far, the Monaghan man has scored 13 tries in all – starting with one on his debut against the USA back in November 2004.

IRELAND SET TO REMAIN FIFTH: Ireland will be looking to mark captain Brian O’Driscoll’s 100th cap for his country with a victory on Saturday, although even a win on home soil by more than 15 points can only improve their rating points in the IRB World Rankings by two tenths.

The good news for Declan Kidney’s men, though, is they cannot relinquish fifth spot, even if Wales were to win by more than 15 points.

However, if this happens, and England also beat Scotland by a similar margin, then only six hundredths would separate the three rivals.

If Ireland do suffer a second heavy defeat of the 2010 Championship – following a 33-10 loss in France last month – then the defending RBS 6 Nations champions will trail fourth-ranked France by 3.55 rating points and lie more than 10 point adrift of number one side New Zealand.

A repeat of Wales’ victory on their last visit to Dublin will lift them above Argentina into seventh place, regardless of the winning margin.

Warren Gatland’s side could actually climb another place to sixth if they win and England suffer a third successive Calcutta Cup defeat on Scottish soil.

This outcome, regardless of the final results, would effectively see Wales and England swap places with Argentina’s only chance of improving their position of seventh dependent on both teams suffering away defeats.

France will take a step closer to a first Grand Slam since 2004 with victory over Italy at the Stade de France on Sunday, but they cannot improve their position of the fourth in the IRB World Rankings.

This is because even an emphatic victory over a side ranked 11th and 12 rating points below them will not have any impact on their total of 85.22 rating points, leaving them just over three tenths shy of Australia in third.

Les Bleus cannot lose fourth place as long as they continue their perfect record against Italy in the Six Nations, because even if Ireland beat Wales by more than 15 points at Croke Park the day before they will still trail France by six tenths.

However, if Italy were to build on their defeat of Scotland a fortnight ago – the Azzurri’s first Six Nations victory for two years – and end France’s hopes of a clean sweep, then their hosts will swap places with a victorious Ireland.

An Italian victory at the Stade de France – allied with a Scottish loss to England – would see the two sides swap places, while Nick Mallett’s side could actually climb to ninth – their highest position for more than two years – with an emphatic win.

Click here to view the latest IRB World Rankings.


Former Ireland captains Willie John McBride and Keith Wood in fine form at an England v Ireland post-match event at Twickenham, hosted by ex-English skipper Will Carling

Relive Tommy Bowe’s magical try in last year’s Grand Slam-clinching win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium

Bud Light Tag, Ireland’s only official IRFU tag rugby programme, was featured on RTE Television recently. More info on www.irfutag.ie.