The 2012 RBS 6 Nations resumes today with Ireland gunning for their first win of the Championship against Italy at the Aviva Stadium. You can keep up-to-date with this afternoon’s match via our O2 MatchDay Live service right here on IrishRugby.ie.
Ireland will field an unchanged team for the visit of Italy to Dublin, with Keith Earls joining the 64-times capped Gordon D’Arcy in the centre.
Earls returns to the side, wearing the number 13 jersey that Fergus McFadden donned in the opening round defeat to Wales.
McFadden drops to the replacements bench, with David Kearney’s absence leaving Peter O’Mahony as the only uncapped player in the squad.
Italy, who lost 36-6 to Ireland in October’s Rugby World Cup pool match, have made four changes to their starting line-up. Benetton Treviso props Michele Rizzo, a Championship debutant, and Lorenzo Cittadini have been drafted into the front row.
Another Treviso player, talented half-back Tobias Botes, gets the nod at out-half and Alberto Sgarbi has been preferred to Gonzalo Canale in the centre.
Ronan O’Gara will become Ireland’s most-capped player, overtaking Brian O’Driscoll (117 caps), should he come on as a replacement during the game.
Ireland have never started a Six Nations campaign with back-to-back defeats. The last time they suffered that outcome in the Championship was in 1998 when they lost at home to Scotland and away to France.
Italy’s last win in Ireland was a 37-29 victory at the old Lansdowne Road back in 1997. Italy followed that up with a 37-22 success in Bologna in December of that year – the last time the Azzurri beat an Irish team.
Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan start a Championship match in the second row together for the 22nd time, just one game off the Irish Championship record currently held by Willie John McBride and Mick Molloy.
Tommy Bowe needs just one more try to edge Shane Horgan out of third place on Ireland’s all-time top try scorers’ list. The Monaghan man currently has 20 tries.
We will have live text commentary direct from the Aviva Stadium as the Paul O’Connell-captained team look to record Ireland’s 18th triumph in 21 Test meetings with Italy.
Plug in your laptop or turn on the PC and enjoy a flavour of today’s match live on IrishRugby.ie. There will be full live text and score updates throughout the coverage, with the game kicking off at 1.30pm.
You can watch live TV coverage of the match on RTÉ Two and BBC One. There will be highlights later on Setanta Sports Ireland.
Michael Corcoran will also be providing live commentary of the game on RTÉ Radio 1, with their coverage beginning shortly before kick-off.
Starting at 1pm with our pre-match build-up, you can feel part of the action on IrishRugby.ie with MatchDay Live.
Look out for the MatchDay Live button in the Ireland section or simply click on the link below: