Another big weekend of Six Nations rugby is drawing nearer. The trio of mouth-watering Ireland v Wales matches gets underway on Friday when the Under-20s and Women’s teams play, before it is all eyes on the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
RBS UNDER-20 6 NATIONS: Friday, February 7
IRELAND UNDER-20s (1st) v WALES UNDER-20s (2nd), Dubarry Park, 7.35pm (live RTÉ Two/RTÉ website (island of Ireland only))
– The Ireland Under-20s’ only defeat in their last five Six Nations matches came at the hands of Scotland in round 3 last season
– Ireland have won their last six home matches, all played in Athlone, since England beat them there in March 2011
– The Wales Under-20s (26-9 winners at home to Italy in round 1) have lost just one of their last six matches in the tournament: 28-15 to England in round 5 last season
– Wales have won their last three away games, their best such run in the history of the U-20 Six Nations
– The two sides have met on nine previous occasions in all competitions with honours even at four wins apiece plus a draw
– The Wales Under-20s’ only previous win on Irish soil came in Athlone in 2008
– Ireland out-half Ross Byrne is the top points scorer in the 2014 tournament so far with 14 points (four conversions and two penalties), while number 8 Jack O’Donoghue – the man-of-the-match against Scotland – is the top try scorer following his brace in the opening round
Match Ticket Info: Tickets for the second match of the Electric Ireland home series in Athlone can be purchased in advance at either Buccaneers RFC or the Bounty.
Tickets can also be bought at the turnstiles on match night, but do come along early especially as pyrotechnics prior to kick-off will add to the fantastic atmosphere.
Stand seats generally sell out in advance of each match. Ticket prices are as follows: Stand €;20; Terrace €;15; Children/OAP €;5; Family (two adults and two children to ground) €;30.
Group discounts are available to clubs/schools, etc., as are a limited number of pre-match tables where you can enjoy a three-course meal with wine and have a reserved seat in the stand for only €;40 per person.
Contact Buccaneers administrator Geraldine 0861732711 (during office hours) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IRELAND U-20: David Busby (Queen’s University/Ulster); Cian Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster), Gary Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Peter Robb (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ian Fitzpatrick (Lansdowne/Leinster); Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster), Nick McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); Peter Dooley (Lansdowne/Leinster), Max Abbott (Cork Constitution/Munster), Rory Burke (Cork Constitution/Munster), Sean O’Brien (Galwegians/Connacht), Ross Molony (UCD/Leinster), Peadar Timmins (UCD/Leinster), Dan Leavy (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Jack O’Donoghue (UL Bohemians/Munster).
Replacements: Sean McNulty (UCD/Munster), Denis Coulson (Lansdowne/Leinster), Oisin Heffernan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Joe Joyce (Bristol/Exiles), Frankie Taggart (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Jack Cullen (Bruff/Munster), Conor McKeon (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dan Goggin (Young Munster/Munster).
WALES U-20: Afon Bagshaw (RGC); Ashton Hewitt (Dragons), Steffan Hughes (Scarlets) (capt), Garyn Smith (Blues), Joshua Adams (Scarlets); Ethan Davies (Dragons), Tom Williams (Blues); Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Ethan Lewis (Blues), Nicky Thomas (Ospreys), Scott Andrews (Dragons), James Sheekey (Blues), Will Boyde (Carmarthen), James Benjamin (Dragons), Ben Roach (Blues).
Replacements: Scott Otten (Ospreys), Luke Garrett (Dragons), Callum Lewis (Blues), Rory Thornton (Ospreys), Ollie Griffiths (Dragons), Connor Lloyd (Scarlets), Luke Price (Ospreys), Tyler Morgan (Dragons).
Referee: Tom Foley (England)
Assistant Referees: Steve Lee, Andy Watson (both England)
Television Match Official: David Sainsbury (England)
WOMEN’S RBS 6 NATIONS: Friday, February 7
– The Ireland Women’s team – the defending champions and current table toppers after round 1 – have won their last six Championship matches since England beat them 23-6 at Esher in round 5 of the 2012 tournament
– Ireland have not lost at home since England visited Ashbourne in March 2011
– The last four games that Wales Women have played have all been won by the away side on the day
– Wales, who lost 12-11 at home to Italy last Sunday, are going for a successive third away victory for the first time in their history
– Ireland have won three of their last four encounters with the Welsh, while Wales’ last victory in Ireland came at Templeville Road in Dublin in March 2008
– Irish lock Sophie Spence is top of both the points and try scoring charts after running in a hat-trick of tries in last Friday’s record-breaking 59-0 defeat of Scotland
Match Ticket/Travel Info: Tickets for the Ireland v Wales Women’s game at Ashbourne RFC will be available for purchase at the gate on Friday.
Tickets prices are as follows: Adult €;10; Student/child €;5; Cars/buses of more than four people, €;5 per person.
Old Belvedere RFC are running supporters’ buses to Ashbourne from Dublin city. The buses will leave Old Belvedere RFC on Anglesea Road at 6pm sharp and pick up at Jury’s Hotel, Custom House Quay at 6.15pm. The buses will return at about 11pm.
For those wishing to travel to the match on the Old Belvedere buses, a ticket (which include entry into the game and the return trip on the bus) costs €;20.
If you would like to reserve seats on the buses, please contact Old Belvedere’s Emer McElhinney (0868892166) or Ann Marie Ruttledge (0871253853).
IRELAND WOMEN: Niamh Briggs (UL Bohemians/Munster); Hannah Casey (Saracens/Exile), Lynne Cantwell (Richmond /Exile), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Alison Miller (Portlaoise/UCC/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Larissa Muldoon (Bristol/Exile); Fiona Coghlan (UL Bohemians/Leinster) (capt), Stacey-Lea Kennedy (Cooke/Ulster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Siobhan Fleming (Tralee/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Heather O’Brien (Highfield/Munster).
Replacements: Gill Bourke (UL Bohemians/Munster), Fiona Hayes (UL Bohemians/Munster), Kerrie-Ann Craddock (Saracens/Exile), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster), Amy Davis (Blackrock/Ulster), Ashleigh Baxter (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Grace Davitt (Cooke/Ulster), Jackie Shiels (Richmond/Exile).
WALES WOMEN: Dyddgu Hywel (Bristol); Elen Evans (Waterloo), Robyn Wilkins (Llandaff North), Rebecca de Filippo (Bristol), Philippa Tuttiett (Bristol); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol), Amy Day (Llandaff North); Megan York (Blaenau Gwent), Lowri Harries (Neath Athletic), Catrin Edwards (Bristol), Jenny Hawkins (Llandaff North), Shona Powell Hughes (Neath Athletic), Catrina Nicholas (Llandaff North), Nia Davies (Cardiff Met), Rachel Taylor (Bristol) (capt).
Replacements: Carys Phillips (Bristol), Jenny Davies (Waterloo), Caryl Thomas (Bath), Sian Williams (Worcester), Sioned Harries (Llandaff North), Sian Moore (Bristol), Laurie Harries (Llandaff North), Ffion Bowen (Maesteg Celtic).
Referee: Nicky Inwood (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Helen O’Reilly, Aoife McCarthy (both Ireland)
RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Saturday, February 8
IRELAND (1st) v WALES (2nd), Aviva Stadium, 2.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC One/RTÉ Radio 1)
STATS & FACTS
– Ireland have not begun an RBS 6 Nations campaign with a pair of victories since they won the Grand Slam in 2009, while their 28-6 victory over Scotland last Sunday ended a four-match winless run in the Championship
– Wales’ only defeat in their last 11 RBS 6 Nations encounters came against Ireland in round 1 last year
– Wales have won on two of their last three visits to Dublin, in 2008 at Croke Park and 2012 at the Aviva Stadium
– The only time Ireland have failed to score a try in a game against Wales since 1994 came in their defeat at Croke Park in 2008
– Wales head coach Warren Gatland faces his old employers having coached Ireland in the first two years of the RBS 6 Nations Championship (2000 and 2001)
– Wales have won more matches than they have lost at Lansdowne Road/Aviva Stadium, recording 18 wins and 17 losses from their 38 previous visits
ON THE PITCH
– Italy’s 43rd-minute try at the Millennium Stadium last Saturday was the first Wales have conceded in a Welsh Championship record 400 minutes of RBS 6 Nations play, beating their previous best of 396 minutes set in 1947-48
– Alun Wyn Jones was the best lineout forward in round 1 of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations, winning seven lineouts and stealing one more of Italy’s throws
– Toby Faletau and Peter O’Mahony were the best ‘pilferers’ last weekend, each claiming three turnovers for their side
– Conor Murray threw six more passes than any other player in the opening round, with 78 in all
– Rhys Priestland kicked away more possession than any other player last weekend with 16 kicks
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).
Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Martin Moore (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster), Tommy O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster).
WALES: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro 92), George North (Northampton Saints); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro 92); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro 92), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues) (capt), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), JP Doyle (England)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)
– Compiled by SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)