Ireland will complete their run of RBS 6 Nations fixtures with a first ever trip to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome this afternoon. You can keep up-to-date with the final round match via our O2 MatchDay Live service right here on IrishRugby.ie.
This afternoon’s match between Italy and Ireland will be the 14th time the two sides have met in the Six Nations. Ireland have never lost a Six Nations encounter with Italy.
Last year’s meeting saw Declan Kidney’s men beat Italy 42-10 at the Aviva Stadium. Ireland have scored 49 tries and 38 penalties compared to Italy’s 15 tries and 25 penalties scored in Six Nations clashes between the sides.
Ireland have never failed to score a try against Italy in the Six Nations. Italy, by contrast, have failed to score against today’s visitors on two occasions, in 2004 and 2009.
Ireland’s biggest winning margin against Italy was in 2000 when they won 60-13 at Lansdowne Road, running in six converted tries and kicking six penalties to win the match.
Former captain Brian O’Driscoll, who is making his 125th appearance for Ireland today, is the only survivor from the starting line-up that won in 2000, in which he scored a try.
Cian Healy, Rory Best and Mike Ross will combine in the front row for the 21st time to become the most-capped Championship front row for Ireland.
The front row of Reggie Corrigan, Shane Byrne and John Hayes had held the record, appearing as a combination in 20 Six Nations matches.
Current captain Jamie Heaslip becomes the most-capped starting number 8 for Ireland with 54 starts, overtaking the previous record set by Anthony Foley.
Centre O’Driscoll will become the second most-capped player of all time with 131 Test appearances, overtaking Ronan O’Gara’s tally of 130.
A win for the visitors this afternoon would see O’Driscoll celebrate his 75th Test victory in the number 13 jersey for Ireland.
Jonathan Sexton is sidelined by a foot injury after initially being named in the Ireland team. Paddy Jackson, winning his third successive cap, starts in his place at out-half, with recent debutant Ian Madigan coming onto the bench.
Stephen Archer and Paul Marshall could make their Test debuts for Ireland if they come off the bench, while experienced prop Andrea Lo Cicero returns to win his 103rd cap, extending his record as the most-capped Italian player of all-time.
We will have live text commentary direct from Rome, so plug in your laptop or turn on the PC and enjoy a flavour of the game live on IrishRugby.ie.
There will be full live text and score updates throughout the coverage, with our pre-match build-up getting underway at 2pm.
You can watch live TV coverage of the match on RTÉ Two and BBC One. Michael Corcoran will also be providing live commentary of the game on RTÉ Radio 1 (FM, DAB, LW 252 and RTÉ.ie), with their coverage beginning shortly before kick-off.
You can feel part of the action on IrishRugby.ie with MatchDay Live – today’s mouth-watering final round clash kicks off at 2.30pm Irish time/3.30pm Italian time.
Look out for the MatchDay Live button in the Ireland section or simply click on the link below: