One of the most competitive Six Nations tournaments in recent years begins with a blockbuster day of action on Saturday.
Wales, inspired by the return of heroic head coach Warren Gatland, host world number one side Ireland first in a match live on BBC One. Then Steve Borthwick takes charge of his first game as England boss when Scotland travel to Twickenham.
The weekend concludes when an improving Italy host defending Grand Slam champions France on Sunday. Here is all you need to know about the 2023 Six Nations, including where to watch the opening matches and a cheat sheet on each game to prepare for the weekend.
What is the prediction for Wales v Ireland?
Warren Gatland named his squad to face Ireland early because he wanted to “talk about rugby” with the Welsh Rugby Union currently mired in allegations of sexism and misogyny.
Gatland, who took again the head train position in December after a successful 11-yr stint formerly and following a terrible 2022 for Wales, has stated he wants to win the Six Nations and not just use the match to put together for September’s World Cup in France.
That shows in the skilled facet he has decided on, with Wales’ oldest captain Ken Owens, who is 36, the beginning hooker and 37-year-old Alun Wyn Jones within the 2nd row.
Liam Williams was drafted in on Thursday to update injured full-again Leigh Halfpenny, even as 20-yr-old centre Joe Hawkins provides some children on his Six Nations debut.
Wales may be buoyed by way of the fact that they received four Six Nations titles – such as three Grand Slams – with Gatland, however Ireland are the form crew.
Andy Farrell’s aspect are pinnacle of the arena ratings and are waiting for to compete with Grand Slam champions France for this yr’s identify.
However, Ireland have been known to height at the wrong time before a World Cup – they misplaced inside the quarter-finals in 2019 after starting the 12 months’s event as international number one.
Farrell factors out that Cardiff “has now not been a super searching ground”, with Ireland’s closing Six Nations victory there coming in 2013.
Ireland are with out megastar prop Tadhg Furlong because of damage. Furlong is changed via Finlay Bealham, with captain Johnny Sexton match to begin at fly-1/2 and World Rugby guys’s player of the yr Josh van der Flier at flanker.
Who will win England v Scotland Six Nations?
While Steve Borthwick is taking charge of his first Six Nations as England head teach, Scotland counterpart Gregor Townsend may be heading into his last along with his settlement ending after the World Cup.
The facets arrive at Twickenham on different trajectories too. England fans, some of whom booed while their crew ended a disappointing 2022 with defeat via South Africa, wait with anticipation to peer whether Borthwick can turn their fortunes around.
Scotland arrive in ownership of the Calcutta Cup – the historical trophy the two sides play for in this fixture – and having claimed a first win at Twickenham on the grounds that 1983 on their remaining visit to London.
Townsend describes this in shape as “the biggest recreation of our championship”.
Despite Scotland triumphing their last Six Nations encounters, England are favourites – however scrum-1/2 Danny Care says: “I don’t have any idea what is going to appear.”
Wing Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his debut for England, while centre Manu Tuilagi has been neglected in favour of Joe Marchant.
It became previously counseled that captain Owen Farrell would begin at fly-half however, with internal centre Henry Slade injured, the Saracens again will take Slade’s vicinity and resume his partnership with 23-yr-antique Harlequins 10 Marcus Smith.
For Scotland, 3-cap lower back row Luke Crosbie begins and the more skilled Hamish Watson is excluded, with Finn Russell beginning at fly-1/2 and Stuart Hogg getting back from injury at full-again.