All three Ireland teams, including the unbeaten Women and Under-20s, still have title aspirations as we enter the penultimate round of the Six Nations Championships. Joe Schmidt’s men will kick off the international weekend on Friday Night at a packed-out Principality Stadium.
RBS 6 NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP: Friday, March 10
WALES (4th) v IRELAND (2nd), Principality Stadium, 8.05pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC One/S4C/DMAX/FR2/RTÉ Radio 1/IRFU Live Blog)
STATS & FACTS
– Wales have slipped to defeats against England and Scotland and have not lost three in a row in the RBS 6 Nations since 2007
– Wales have not been defeated in successive matches at the Principality Stadium in the same Championship season since 2003
– Ireland have played only three Test matches before on a Friday, the last of which was against France during the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The other two were in Samoa in 2003 and versus Italy in Belfast in 2007
– Ireland’s only defeat in their last five RBS 6 Nations encounters was to Scotland at BT Murrayfield in round 1 last month
– Wales have won just one of their last four RBS 6 Nations matches against Ireland: 23-16 at the Principality Stadium two years ago
– Ireland’s overall record against Wales at the Principality Stadium is won six and lost three
RECENT SIX NATIONS MEETINGS:
Saturday, March 12, 2011 – Wales 19 Ireland 13, Millennium Stadium
Sunday, February 5, 2012 – Ireland 21 Wales 23, Aviva Stadium
Saturday, February 2, 2013 – Wales 22 Ireland 30, Millennium Stadium
Saturday, February 8, 2014 – Ireland 26 Wales 3, Aviva Stadium
Saturday, March 14, 2015 – Wales 23 Ireland 16, Millennium Stadium
Sunday, February 7, 2016 – Ireland 16 Wales 16, Aviva Stadium
WALES: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon); George North (Northampton Saints), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Liam Williams (Scarlets); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) (capt), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester).
Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Bath), Taulupe Faletau (Bath), Gareth Davies (Scarlets), Sam Davies (Ospreys), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins).
IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster), Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster), Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster); Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster) (capt), Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), CJ Stander (Shannon/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).
Replacements: Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Iain Henderson (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Kieran Marmion (Corinthians/Connacht), Paddy Jackson (Dungannon/Ulster), Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster).
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Jerome Garces (France), Matthew Carley (England)
Television Match Official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
WOMEN’S SIX NATIONS: Saturday, March 11
– The Wales Women’s only victory in their last five Six Nations matches was 20-8 over Italy in Jesi in round 1 last month
– Wales were defeated by England at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park in round 2 and have not lost successive home games since 2014
– Wales have played nine previous Women’s Six Nations matches at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park with their only victories being against Spain and Ireland in 2003
– The Ireland Women have won their last five Six Nations matches since their defeat to England at Twickenham last year
– Ireland have only once before started with four successive wins in the Championship, when they claimed the Grand Slam in 2013
– The two countries have met on 21 previous occasions at this level with Ireland achieving eight victories, including the last five in succession
RECENT SIX NATIONS MEETINGS:
Sunday, March 13, 2011 – Wales Women 15 Ireland Women 14, Pandy Park, Crosskeys
Saturday, March 3, 2012 – Ireland Women 36 Wales Women 0, Ashbourne RFC
Sunday, February 3, 2013 – Wales Women 10 Ireland Women 12, Talbot Athletic Ground. Port Talbot
Friday, February 7, 2014 – Ireland Women 14 Wales Women 6, Ashbourne RFC
Sunday, March 15, 2015 – Wales Women 0 Ireland Women 20, St. Helen’s, Swansea
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Ireland Women 21 Wales Women 3, Donnybrook
Match Ticket Information: Tickets can be bought online here. Seating – £15, Standing – £10/£5 U-16s. Tickets will be available to purchase online until 12pm on Friday. After this, tickets can only be purchased in person from the WRU ticket office on Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1NS.
WALES WOMEN: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets); Elen Evans (Scarlets), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Rebecca de Filippo (Newport Gwent Dragons), Adi Taviner (Ospreys); Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (Ospreys) (capt), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Newport Gwent Dragons), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (Scarlets), Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys).
Replacements: Lowri Harries (Scarlets), Cerys Hale (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gwenllian Pyrs (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Rhiannon Parker (Cardiff Blues), Elinor Snowsill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Gemma Rowland (Newport Gwent Dragons).
IRELAND WOMEN: Kim Flood (Railway Union/Leinster); Hannah Tyrrell (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Jenny Murphy (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Aylesford Bulls), Alison Miller (Old Belvedere/Connacht); Nora Stapleton (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Mary Healy (Galwegians/Connacht); Lindsay Peat (Railway Union/Leinster), Leah Lyons (Highfield/Munster), Ailis Egan (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Sophie Spence (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Marie Louise Reilly (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Ciara Griffin (UL Bohemians/Munster), Claire Molloy (Bristol/Connacht), Paula Fitzpatrick (St. Mary’s/Leinster) (capt).
Replacements: Ciara O’Connor (Galwegians/Connacht), Ilse van Staden (Cooke/Ulster), Ruth O’Reilly (Galwegians/Connacht), Ciara Cooney (Railway Union/Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Tullamore/Connacht), Larissa Muldoon (Railway Union), Nikki Caughey (Railway Union/Ulster), Mairead Coyne (Galwegians/Connacht).
Referee: Claire Hodnett (England)
Assistant Referees: Joy Neville (Ireland), Simon Rees (Wales)
Television Match Official: Eric Gauzins (France)
UNDER-20 SIX NATIONS: Saturday, March 11
WALES UNDER-20s (3rd) v IRELAND UNDER-20s (2nd), Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay, 6.30pm (live RTÉ Two/www.rte.ie/live (island of Ireland only)/S4C)
– The Wales Under-20s’ only defeat in their last ten U-20 Six Nations games was to England at Colwyn Bay in round 2 last month
– The Wales U-20s beat Scotland 65-34 in round 3, the most points ever accumulated (99) in an U-20 Six Nations match and a record total for Wales in the competition
– Ireland’s victory over France last time out was their sixth in a row in the U-20 Six Nations, equalling their best ever run in the tournament
– The Ireland U-20s have just twice before started a Six Nations campaign with four straight wins – in 2007, when they claimed the Grand Slam, and in 2012, when they did not
– Wales have won their last four matches against Ireland in the U-20 Six Nations, but during that sequence Ireland have beaten Wales twice in World Rugby U-20 Championship encounters
– The last time that the Ireland U-20s won in Wales was in 2009 at Parc y Scarlets, although they did draw 26-all at the same venue in 2011
RECENT SIX NATIONS MEETINGS:
Friday, March 11, 2011 – Wales U-20s 26 Ireland U-20s 26, Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli
Friday, February 3, 2012 – Ireland U-20s 11 Wales U-20s 6, Dubarry Park
Friday, February 1, 2013 – Wales U-20s 17 Ireland U-20s 15, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay
Friday, February 7, 2014 – Ireland U-20s 0 Wales U-20s 16, Dubarry Park
Friday, March 13, 2015 – Wales U-20s 19 Ireland U-20s 12, Parc Eirias, Colwyn Bay
Friday, February 5, 2016 – Ireland U-20s 24 Wales U-20s 35, Donnybrook
Match Ticket Information: Tickets are priced at £15 (seated), £10/£5 (standing). Venue Cymru – www.venuecymru.co.uk, over the counter at the box office or by calling 01492 872000; WRU – www.wru.wales/tickets or by calling Ticketmaster on 0844 847 1881; Colwyn Leisure Centre – Terrace tickets can be bought over the counter or over the phone on 01492 577900.
WALES U-20: Rhun Williams (Cardiff Blues); Corey Baldwin (Scarlets), Cameron Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Keiran Williams (Ospreys), Ryan Conbeer (Scarlets); Ben Jones (Cardiff Blues), Dane Blacker (Cardiff Blues); Rhys Carre (Cardiff Blues), Corrie Tarrant (Cardiff Blues), Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Blues), Alex Dombrandt (Cardiff Met), Sean Moore (Pontypridd), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), Will Jones (Ospreys) (capt), Aled Ward (Cardiff Blues).
Replacements: Owen Hughes (Newport Gwent Dragons), Steff Thomas (Scarlets), Chris Coleman (Newport Gwent Dragons), Jack Pope (Bridgend), James Botham (Cardiff Blues), Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys), Phil Jones (Ospreys), Ioan Nicholas (Scarlets).
IRELAND U-20: Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster); Tommy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jack Kelly (Dublin University/Leinster), Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster), Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster) (capt); Bill Johnston (Garryowen/Munster), Jonny Stewart (Queen’s University/Ulster); Joey Conway (UL Bohemians/Munster), Tadgh McElroy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Charlie Connolly (Dublin University/Leinster), Fineen Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Oisin Dowling (Lansdowne/Leinster), Gavin Coombes (Young Munster/Munster), Paul Boyle (Lansdowne/Leinster), Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster).
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher (UCD/Leinster), Greg McGrath (Lansdowne/Leinster), Matthew Burke (Corinthians/Connacht), Jack Regan (UCD/Leinster), Marcus Rea (Queen’s University/Ulster), Jack Stafford (Shannon/Munster), Conor Fitzgerald (Shannon/Munster), Colm Hogan (Dublin University/Munster).
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Paul Burton (both England)
Television Match Official: David Sainsbury (England)
– Compiled by SFMS Limited (Stuart Farmer Media Services)