Six Nations | Rugby
Andrew Robinson previews Ireland’s chances in this season’s tournament
Ireland get their Six Nations campaign up and running with a tough trip to Cardiff in the tournament opener on Saturday. We’ve had a look at the prospects the men in green have this time around.
Six Nations History
Ireland have struggled in the event since Italy joined back in 2000, which made it into the competition we know and love. Despite playing the last 12 years with what has been described as Ireland’s rugby golden generation, just one Six Nations championship has been bagged.
But what a win it was. They picked up both the Grand Slam and Triple Crown; makes sense really doesn’t it? It was the first Grand Slam since 1948 and Triple Crown since 2007.
Tough wins away at Murrayfield and the Millennium Stadium capped off a great year for the side, and Brian O’Driscoll finished as the joint top tryscorer.
Ireland come into the tournament on the back of a 46-24 thumping of Argentina. But with some of the Pumas coming into the twilight of their careers and having played in The Rugby Championship earlier in the year, it wasn’t too much of a test.
Looking further back, an embarrassing 60-0 loss to the All Blacks looms large, when Ireland we’re made to look like an under-13 C team by the world champions.
But, if they bring the try-scoring form into the Six Nations that they showed against Argentina, it could be a good year.
The opener against Wales in Cardiff will set the tone and see how the squad copes with the absence of Easter Island statue lookalike Paul O’Connell and Subway fan Tommy Bowe.
They are 6/5 to pull off a win where they were beaten 19-13 in 2011 and a victory would be their first over the Dragons since there 2010 home win.
It doesn’t get much easier for Declan Kidney’s men as they welcome England to the Aviva Stadium in week two, but the fact they have away games against Scotland and Italy could be crucial, as the two minnows are not expected to cause a problem this year.
Players to watch
Brian O’Driscoll is to Irish rugby what Lionel Messi is to the world of football, a mercurial genius. If Ireland want to do anything in the 2013 Six Nations, they need (former) captain marvel to be firing on all cylinders.
Another player to watch is Craig Gilroy. The youngster is being thrown in at the deep end this weekend and it’ll be interesting to see if he sinks or swims, our money is on him showing the Welsh backs that there’s a new kid on the block.
Ireland’s Latest Six Nations betting odds with Paddy Power
Ireland are 7/2 to win the Six Nations, 11/2 to pull off a Grand Slam and 7/2 to do the Triple Crown, with wins over Wales, England and Scotland.
- Betting: Six Nations 2013
- England Six Nations Betting Preview
- Ireland Six Nations Betting Preview
- Wales Six Nations Betting Preview
Ireland team and replacements (v Wales, 2013 RBS Six Nations Championship, Millennium Stadium, Saturday, February 2, kick-off 1.30pm)
15 – Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster/41)
14 – Craig Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster/1)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster/120)
12 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster/71)
11 – Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster/3)
10 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster/34)
9 – Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster/14)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster/35)
2 – Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster/62)
3 – Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster/24)
4 – Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht/6)
5 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster/23)
6 – Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster/9)
7 – Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster/22)
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster/52) (capt)
16 – Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster/23)
17 – David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster/2)
18 – Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon/Ulster/2)
19 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster/91)
20 – Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster/4)
21 – Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster/47)
22 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster/126)
23 – Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster/34)