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Opta Match Facts Preview: Ireland v Scotland

Opta Match Facts Preview: Ireland v Scotland

Opposing captains Jonathan Sexton and Stuart Hogg are pictured with the Guinness Six Nations trophy ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Opta bring you all the team and player facts you need as the build-up continues to Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 4.45pm).


– Ireland have won five of their last six Six Nations games against Scotland, their sole defeat in that time coming in 2017 at BT Murrayfield

– Scotland have picked up just one win in Ireland in the Six Nations (L9), a 23-20 victory at Croke Park in 2010. A last-gasp penalty from Dan Parks after Rob Kearney had infringed gave the visitors the win

– Only once in the last four seasons have Ireland won their opening match of a Six Nations Championship (D1, L2), going on to win the Grand Slam in the year they managed to do so (2018)

– Scotland have won their opening game in two of the last three campaigns, having done so just once in 17 previous efforts (L16)

– Scotland have just seven wins in 50 away matches in the Six Nations, five of those coming in Italy (v Ireland in 2010, v Wales in 2002)

– Ireland averaged fewer breaks (8) and offloads (4.8) per game than any other tier 1 nation in Test rugby in 2019, while only Scotland (19m 43s) average more time in possession than Ireland (19m 23s)

– Ireland conceded just 7.2 penalties/free-kicks per game in all Test matches in 2019, fewer than any other tier 1 side. Scotland conceded just 8.8, the third fewest (England 7.7)

– Only Conor Murray (10) provided more try assists then Finn Russell (8) in Test rugby in 2019. Russell assisted a tournament high four in the 2019 Six Nations, however he misses out on this fixture

Jacob Stockdale beat 23 defenders in the Six Nations last year, five more than any other player. The Ulster winger has scored nine tries in 10 appearances in the Six Nations, including three in two games against Scotland

– Scotland’s Jonny Gray has a 98% tackle success rate in the Six Nations (385/394), the best rate of any of the 222 players to make 100+ tackles in the Championship

Conor Murray has 19 try assists to his name in the Six Nations, the most of any player from any nation. He is also the joint-top try scoring scrum half in the Championship (9, also Danny Care)


– Caelan Doris and Ronan Kelleher are set to make their Test debuts in this match. They would be the first players to make their Ireland debut against Scotland since Jack Conan and Nathan White in August 2015

– Neither of Ireland’s two hookers – Rob Herring and Ronan Kelleher – have played in the Six Nations before. This will be just the third time since 2006 that Ireland have gone into a Six Nations match without Rory Best in the squad (v Italy in 2017 & 2019) – Niall Scannell, James Tracy and Sean Cronin stepped in for those two games

– There are four players in Andy Farrell’s first matchday squad who also featured in Joe Schmidt’s first 23-man line-up against Samoa in November 2013 – Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Devin Toner and Peter O’Mahony

Garry Ringrose has scored six tries in six matches in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, the joint most of any player alongside Teddy Thomas (Racing 92) and Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs). John Cooney is the top point scorer in the competition (71 points, including five tries)

Josh van der Flier has made 98 tackles in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, more than any other player. He is one of six players to have won a joint-high seven turnovers in the competition


– Stuart Hogg will captain Scotland for the second time after leading the team out in a 30-29 defeat to the USA in June 2018. The last time a full-back captained Scotland in a Six Nations game was back in 2007 when Chris Paterson skippered the side against France

– Stuart Hogg has beaten 99 defenders in his Six Nations career. One more and he will become the fourth player to tally 100 defenders beaten in the competition (Brian O’Driscoll 163, George North 111, Rob Kearney 104)

– Blair Kinghorn made 10 clean breaks in the 2019 Six Nations, the most ever recorded by a Scotland player in a single year’s Championship

– Jonny Gray has made the most tackles of any player who is yet to miss one in the GUINNESS PRO14 this season, making each of his 63 attempted hits. He is the only player to make 100 tackles in a Six Nations tournament (100 in 2018)

– Zander Fagerson has conceded 16 penalties in the Heineken Champions Cup this season, four more than any other player. A competition high 11 of those have been for scrum offences


– The Six Nations head-to-head is all-square at 60 wins each, so whoever comes out on top today will take the lead

– Ireland have won 11 of the last 15 contests and 19 of the last 25 meetings in all competitions since the turn of the Millennium in 2000

– Scotland were slow starters in last year’s Championship, conceding 42% of their points in the opening quarter

– Nearly two-thirds of Ireland’s 14 tries originated from lineout possession

Jonathan Sexton has a 100% record as captain, having won his only previous Test match in the role – the 35-0 win over Russia at the recent Rugby World Cup in Japan