After a second-place finish last year, Ireland open their 2023 Six Nations campaign away to Wales in a sold-out Principality Stadium. With the return of Warren Gatland to Wales and Ireland looking to build on their record-breaking season last year, the opening game of the tournament is shaping up to be a cracker. We have all the information on how to watch Ireland v Wales right here.
When is Ireland v Wales?
The game kicks off at 14:15 Irish time on Saturday the 4th of February at the Principality Stadium Cardiff.
How to watch Ireland v Wales?
Ireland v Wales will be broadcast live on Virgin Media One with Coverage beginning at 13:00 for the 14:15 start.
Ireland go into this Six Nations off the back of a very successful season last year when Ireland finished second in the Six Nations, only falling to Grand Slam winners France. They went on to win a Test series away to New Zealand before winning all three of their Autumn Series games against Australia, Fiji and South Africa. These results mean Ireland are coming into this tournament as the top-ranked team in the world and are favourites for both Saturday's game against Wales and also the championship. Despite this, opening rounds of the Six Nations can always cause upsets and going to Cardiff is no easy task, something Clive Woodward spoke about when he predicted a Welsh win.
On the other hand, Wales have struggled since last year's Six Nations when they finished fifth recording just one win. In their summer series Wales took on the task of heading to South Africa, winning once but ultimately losing the series in the final game, before losing three out of four autumn games. Wayne Pivac and the WRU parted ways over the string of results that sees Wales ninth place in the world rankings. Warren Gatland was then re-appointed Wales head coach and takes charge of his first Six Nations in his second stint. Gatland had previously been the man in charge of Wales from 2007-2019 and managed the British and Irish Lions for three tours as well as Ireland from 1998-2001.
Gatland and Ireland are very familiar, of course, and Gatland this week spoke of the importance of Johnny Sexton as well as his Lions snub in 2021.
This same fixture opened the tournament in 2022 when Ireland ran out comfortable winners 29-7 in the Aviva Stadium. These opening games often prove fundamental to success in the tournament as a whole and both teams will be looking to build that momentum from the first whistle. While Ireland most definitely come into the game with a target on their back, Wales come in as an underdog with an air of excitement around the return of Gatland in what should be a high-intensity and very competitive fixture.
Clive Woodward even predicted a Wales victory.
For Ireland, the big team news is Finlay Bealham comes in at tighthead after Tadhg Furlong was ruled out over an ongoing calf injury. While this is a huge loss to the Ireland pack there are few other surprises in the front eight with O'Mahony and player of the year Josh van der Flier flanking the scrum. Sexton captains the side and starts at out half, marking his first game back from his cheek injury suffered over Christmas. He was initially paired alongside Jamison Gibson-Park, but early indications from Cardiff on Saturday morning suggest Conor Murray will come in to the starting XV for an injured Gibson-Park, with Craig Casey stepping up to the bench. Stuart McCloskey starts at inside centre, partnered by Garry Ringrose at 13. The starting 15 are supplemented by a very experienced bench that includes Bundee Aki and Cian Healy. Ireland's team in full is:
15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Mack Hansen, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Stuart McCloskey, 11. James Lowe, 10. Johnny Sexton (Captain), 9. Conor Murray; 1. Andrew Porter, 2. Dan Sheehan, 3. Finlay Bealham, 4. Tadhg Beirne, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O'Mahony, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. Caelan Doris
Our first line up of 2023! 🟢#TeamOfUs | #GuinnessSixNations
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 2, 2023
Warren Gatland named his first Welsh side since his return, and hasn't held back in selection either, putting out a full force 15 for Saturday's game. The strength of this Welsh team throws up no major surprises, Dan Biggar and Tomos Williams start in the half backs. Leigh Halfpenny was named to start, but picked up a knock and is replaced by Liam Williams.. Joe Hawkins starts at inside centre set for just his second international cap and his Six Nations debut. In the pack, Scarlets' Ken Owens captains the side and starts as hooker. Behind him Alun Wyn Jones starts and is set to earn his 155th Welsh cap while both the experienced Tiperic and Faletau start at seven and eight. The Wales team in full is:
15. Liam Williams, 14. Josh Adams, 13. George North, 12. Joe Hawkins, 11. Rio Dyer, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Tomos Williams; 1. Gareth Thomas, 2. Ken Owens (Captain) 3. Tomas Francis, 4. Adam Beard, 5. Alun Wyn Jones, 6. Jac Morgan, 7. Justin Tiperic, 8. Taulupe Faletau
🏴 𝐂𝐘𝐌𝐑𝐔 𝐗𝐕 🏴
Your Welsh 23 to face @IrishRugby at @principalitysta
💪 Amdani!#WelshRugby | #GuinnessSixNations
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏴 (@WelshRugbyUnion) January 31, 2023
That's all you need to know on how to watch Ireland v Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday.
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