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RBS 6 Nations Preview: Ireland v Scotland

RBS 6 Nations Preview: Ireland v Scotland

Today’s RBS 6 Nations game against Scotland could see Declan Kidney’s men parading silverware around Croke Park, with a Triple Crown in their sights. This will be the 14th rugby international staged at the famous Jones’s Road venue since February 2007.


IRELAND v SCOTLAND, Croke Park, 5pm (live RTE Two/BBC One)

Team News: Ireland coach Declan Kidney has named an unchanged team to play Scotland in the final match of the RBS 6 Nations Championship at Croke Park on Saturday.

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The game will be Ireland’s last at Croke Park before returning to Aviva Stadium in November.

Full-back Geordan Murphy and out-half Jonathan Sexton will start, with the Irish management selecting an unchanged starting line-up for the second week in-a-row.

Fittingly for the final outing at Croke Park, the match will mark a 70th Ireland cap for Paul O’Connell who led Ireland out for the first rugby international there against France in 2007.

Centre Gordon D’Arcy has been included in the side after recovering from the deep bruising to his leg, sustained against Wales.

Commenting on the game, Kidney said: “For us, Saturday is a final. Being a bit older than the players I came through two decades when we never won anything,’ he said.

“We’re playing Scotland in a one-off Test match which we see as a final.

“The GAA have been hugely supportive of us while we’ve been at Croke Park and maybe we can pay them due respect by playing our last match here as if it’s a final.

“The Scots are known for ruining Irish parties and they’ll want to do that once more.

“The great thing about the Six Nations is that no two games are ever alike and they all present different challenges.”

Meanwhile, Scotland coach Andy Robinson has also selected an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s encounter.

The selection means that flanker Kelly Brown, who had to retire in the second-half of last Saturday’s Calcutta Cup clash with a head knock, is satisfying the return to play medical protocols and is fit to take his place in the back row.

Scottish boss Andy Robinson reckons his charges can build on their 15-15 draw with England and gain a tangible reward from their efforts in the competition.

“I have spoken about the need for us to be consistent and put together back-to-back performances,” he said.

“We did some good things against England last weekend but we have to look for improvements against a well-balanced Ireland team who will be looking to bow out on a high in the final match at Croke Park.”

On the replacements bench, Scotland, who are currently bottom of the RBS 6 Nations table, show three changes.

Scrum half Mike Blair and prop Alasdair Dickinson have both recovered from concussion, which ruled them out of the England game, and they are preferred to Rory Lawson and Geoff Cross respectively.

Elsewhere on the bench, Leinster lock Nathan Hines has been ruled out through a knee injury, so Glasgow Warriors’ 20-year-old lock Richie Gray returns to a matchday 22 which also includes Ulster winger Simon Danielli.

IRELAND: Geordan Murphy (Leicester Tigers); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), John Hayes (Bruff/Munster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (Buccaneers/Connacht), Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster), Leo Cullen (Blackrock College/Leinster), Shane Jennings (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster).

SCOTLAND: Hugo Southwell (Stade Francais); Sean Lamont (Scarlets), Nick De Luca (Edinburgh), Graeme Morrison (Glasgow Warriors), Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors); Dan Parks (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Cusiter (Glasgow Warriors) (capt); Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), Ross Ford (Edinburgh), Euan Murray (Northampton Saints), Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), Alastair Kellock (Glasgow Warriors), Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Glasgow Warriors), Johnnie Beattie (Glasgow Warriors).

Replacements: Scott Lawson (Gloucester), Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Alan MacDonald (Edinburgh), Mike Blair (Edinburgh), Phil Godman (Edinburgh), Simon Danielli (Ulster).

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jerome Garces (France)
Television Match Official: Giulio de Santis (Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 1/10; Draw: 25/1; Scotland to win: 11/2

Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland) – “To me the Triple Crown is huge because in the past I’ve seen teams that have failed to fulfil themselves. Coming into the job, people were saying this team is getting old. I thought that if we could be involved in winning anything it would be brilliant.

“To me it’s huge, it’s something that you dream about being involved in, especially on home soil and as part of a special occasion.

“It’s a romantic ending that couldn’t be orchestrated – our last match at Croke Park with a Triple Crown to be won.

“It means a huge amount to the players to have been able to play at Croke Park. Most of our lads coming up through the age groups would have tried most of the codes – hurling, football, soccer.

“Everyone will have taken a good look at finals days when they were growing up. Now we’re playing there in front of a full house.

“It’s an exceptional stadium, as good as anything around the world. For an amateur organisation to build a stadium like that was a magnificent achievement.

“To have the use of their facilities over the last three years has been a genuine privilege. A lot of the lads are looking forward to Saturday because internationals are not going to held there again.

“The biggest thing was the GAA’s generosity and the fact they were willing to share it.”

“I believe this is a very good Scotland side that has improved no end and has many points to prove.

“They’re hugely physical. They come at you defensively so we’ll have to be very sharp in trying to take our scores.

“I don’t think there will be much in it at the end of the day. They’ve very big men and they’re hungry. You can’t coach hunger – it’s either in players or it’s not.

“This Scotland team is on the verge of something. We just have to make sure that it doesn’t happen.”

Chris Cusiter (Scotland) – “We have not won in this year’s Championship and as a group we feel we should have (won). We have one last chance to do so.

“We know Ireland are going for the Triple Crown and it’s the last game at Croke Park but for us it’s a huge game too – our last chance to get something out of the Championship. 

“Ireland’s motivations for wanting to win this game are very different to ours. We have to understand what it means to them but also understand what it means to us. We owe it to ourselves to put in a performance.

“We probably underperformed in Italy, so we cannot afford to come away from home again and put in that kind of performance. If we’re not up to it, we can wave goodbye to it.

“Dan (Parks) and I have been controlling the games pretty well, putting the team in the right positions and picking the right options. That’s something we’re going to have to produce again.

“Tomas O’Leary’s been playing really good rugby. He’s probably playing better this year than he did even last year. Even though he’s slightly more inexperienced, he’s knows what he’s doing.

“(Jonathan) Sexton’s pushed Ronan O’Gara, who has got a world of experience, onto the bench. I’m not sure that caps in comparison makes a huge difference.”

Pre-Match Links – 

D’Arcy Gets Go-Ahead As Ireland Complete Preparations

Irish Rugby TV: Paul O’Connell

Kiss: Back Row Battle Will Be Key

Bowe Shortlisted For Player Of The Championship Award

Sole Focus Is On Beating Scotland – O’Driscoll

Head-To-Head: Ireland v Scotland

Recent Meetings –

2005 RBS 6 Nations: Scotland 13 Ireland 40, Murrayfield
2006 RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 15 Scotland 9, Lansdowne Road
2007 RBS 6 Nations: Scotland 18 Ireland 19, Murrayfield; 2007 Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Scotland 31 Ireland 21, Murrayfield 
2008 RBS 6 Nations: Ireland 34 Scotland 13, Croke Park
2009 RBS 6 Nations: Scotland 15 Ireland 22, Murrayfield