Six Nation Rugby Wales vs Ireland Live Stream 2 Feb 2013
Posted Feb 02 2013 8:18am
Wales play their first home fixture of the 2013 RBS 6 Nations at the Millennium Stadium against Ireland who will be gunning for revenge after their last gasp defeat when the two sides met in Dublin in 2012.
IT seems like only yesterday that Wales were thrashing Ireland in the World Cup, but so much has changed during the intervening four months.
Our star, shining so brightly on that never-to-be-forgotten three-try evening in Wellington, has subsequently dimmed with successive defeats to France and Australia (twice).
Warren Gatland’s preparation for tomorrow’s big Six Nations opener in Dublin has also been badly affected by the loss through injury of a third of the team which performed so splendidly in that quarter-final in New Zealand.
Two other injury casualties, Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts, do line up in the Aviva Stadium return clash tomorrow, but there have to be question marks over just how fit they really are.
What’s happened at regional level has hardly kept the World Cup buzz going, either, with the once glittering Ospreys and the Blues seeing an alarming slump in attendances.
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Six Nation Rugby Wales vs Ireland Date:2nd February Time:13:30 local,13:30 GMT Venue:Millennium Stadium
At least the Blues did manage to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup. The Ospreys bombed, while the Scarlets faded after a promising start.
Contrast Welsh fortunes with those on the other side of the Irish Sea where, despite an economic recession which is much deeper than ours, rugby is on an incredible high.
Leinster, Munster and Ulster each stormed into the last eight of the Heineken while attendances are booming across the board, even at little Connacht.
Given what happened when Ireland and Wales last met, it should be Gatland’s men going into the Six Nations opener on a high, full of confidence and tagged as favourites.
Instead, it is the Irish who seem to have the momentum as they seek to avenge that World Cup loss in front of their own expectant people.
The absence of Brian O’Driscoll doesn’t appear to have worried the Irish too much, although it’s going to be hugely interesting to see whether he, or our own Shane Williams, is the talisman missed most.
Believe it or not, this is the first time O’Driscoll has missed a game against Wales since lining up against them 12 years ago.
That 29-23 Welsh victory at Landowne Road was also marked by super Shane’s bow in the fixture .. and each went on to become genuine match-winning greats.
Strange, isn’t it, that the two go-to men will be missing together. Which side copes best without such a key figure could hold the key to the Dublin outcome.
O’Driscoll has pilfered six in 14 appearances against Wales, while Williams has been Ireland’s recent nemesis. He scored the try in 2008 en route to a Wales Grand Slam and bagged the opener in Wellington back in October.
Keith Earls had been due to wear O’Driscoll’s No 13 jersey but pulled out yesterday and has been replaced by Fergus McFadden.
But Ireland’s last minute problems are nothing compared to those which have afflicted Wales in the build up to the game.
Four of the pack which started in Wellington, the world’s leading loose-head Gethin Jenkins (knee), first-choice locks Luke Charteris (wrist) and Alun Wyn Jones (toe) and blindside flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle) are out.
Hooker Matthew Rees, who was cruelly ruled out of captaining Wales at the World Cup by a neck problem, also has a calf strain, so you can see the scale of the problems facing Gatland, with Ireland’s strength being up front.
Centre Roberts hasn’t played since December 23 while outside-half Priestland has been out for a fortnight.
Neither have been able to take a full part in training and it’s a gamble to pick them because of the fear a recurrence could put them out of the rest of the Six Nations.
But playmaker Priestland and powerhouse Roberts are in because Gatland regards them as being vital to the Welsh cause.