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Result: England 19-26 Wales

Result: Ireland 16-11 Italy


By Pranav Soneji

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111. (Not all contributions can be used)

1835: Mr Warren Gatland, take a bow. That must have been the greatest team talk in the history of rugby.


1831: "Trosgais. Cymru am byth!"
Dmarywe on 606

As a non-Welsh speaker, I'm assuming this is some sort of praise for the men in red. If this means something slightly different, I hope all you sympathetic Welsh fans will let me know otherwise I'll look a right tool.

1829: "Disgrace! I am disgusted. Throw away all a 10-point lead against that useless lot! They couldn't catch, pass or kick in the first half."
sharkmatt87 on 606

"I never thought it would happen at half-time. I should have had faith."
Anonymous Welsh person on text 81111

80 mins: James Haskell makes a 20-metre break and pushes England to the half-way line. The clock is well beyond 80 minutes, but it's all over - Wales have won an absolutely extraordinary game of rugby. Just unbelievable.

79 mins: The Welsh pack are not letting the ball out of their sight, even though Hook is itching for a drop-goal. But Duncan Jones knocks on with 15 seconds left on the clock. Can England produce a moment of magic to level this absolutely enthralling encounter?

78 mins: BBC commentator Brian Moore names James Hook as his man-of-the-match - and rightly so. The fly-half has been absolutely inspirational. Wales' 20-year Twickenham hoodoo is just 90 seconds from being banished to the annals of history.

77 mins: Wales are eating up valuable time inside England's 22, James Hook drops into the pocket for a drop-goal attempt, but his forwards make a hard slog towards the England tryline.

"All I can say is thank heavens there is a God and he is Welsh."
Anonymous Welsh person on text 81111

73 mins: Brian Ashton looks like a man who has had his pipe and slippers taken away, he looks absolutely disgusted with what's going on in front of his eyes. Wales win a scrum deep inside England's 22 after indecision from Andy Gomersall.

72 mins: England are reeling, they are rudderless - Wilkinson sends up a high up-and-under to no-one and James Hook has all the time in the world to punt the ball down into England's 22.

70 mins: TRY England 19-26 Wales
Absolutely unbelievable - Mike Phillips goes over to put Wales in front for the first time. The scrum-half charges down Iain Balshaw's attempted clearance and manages to touch down, despite referee Joubert asking for the TV official's assistance. James Hook adds yet another brilliant conversion from exactly the same place. Remarkable.

67 mins: TRY England 19-19 Wales
Great break by James Hook, whose neat sidestep sets up full-back Lee Bryne for a deserved score. This is unbelievable - Warren Gatland's side are punching holes all through England's defence. James Hook levels the score with a sumptuous conversion on the right touchline.

65 mins: Danny Cipriani is welcomed to international rugby with a huge Tom Shanklin hit and England and is immediately enveloped by red shirts. Wales get the put-in in the scrum. England are rocking.

62 mins: PENALTY England 19-12 Wales
Iain Balshaw is penalised for not releasing inside his own 22 and another simple kick in front of the posts for James Hook. Dangerous times for England, whose dominance is slowly slipping away. Elsewhere Mike Tindall and Lee Bryne are both receiving attention for knocks. This is a proper bruiser - Tindall is taken off on a stretcher and Danny Cipriani comes on to make his England debut. What a time to bring on the 20-year-old tyro.

60 mins: Brilliant break from Gavin Henson, who capitalises on a rare missed Wilkinson tackle, sweeping through England's defence into the 22. He slips a pass out to Ian Gough, but the second row's pop pass is brilliantly intercepted by Luke Narraway. A very timely intervention from the Gloucester number eight.

57 mins: PENALTY England 19-9 Wales
James Haskell is penalised for not rolling away after a tackle, handing James Hook the simplest of kicks in front of the posts on the 22-metre line. Still life in this Wales side, we're in for an entertaining final 20 minutes.

53 mins: Martyn Williams loses it with Andrew Sheridan and attempts to pick the Sale prop up from the waist to show his discontent. Only Sheridan weighs the same as a JCB digger, so the Cardiff man's progress is stunted somewhat. Referee Craig Joubert intervenes and awards England the penalty for an earlier ruck infringement.

51 mins: Wales sweep their way upfield with a series of sniping runs, but Gavin Henson fails to hang on to a shocking miss pass from James Hook. Frustrating for the men in red.

48 mins: Dodgy? Under the high ball? No chance. Iain Balshaw snaffles the ball ahead of Shane Williams to a rapturous reception from the Twickenham faithful.

47 mins: No updates on Jonathan Thomas's injury as yet, but we will let you know as soon as we get word on his condition.

44 mins: PENALTY England 19-6 Wales
England opt for the line-out and get another penalty as Wales bring down the line-out jumper in mid-air. Jonny Wilkinson kicks over the three points close to the left touchline.

42 mins: Shane Williams makes an absolute howler on his tryline, opting to run the ball after collecting Toby Flood's clever grubber with the England backline bearing down on him. Unsurprisingly the winger gets pinned and the England players pile in. Inevitably Wales concede a penalty for holding on.

1733: Both teams are out at Twickenham, but England have been forced to make another change with replacement flanker Tom Rees going off, but with no other back-row forwards available Brian Ashton has to use second row Ben Kay. Not quite sure how this will work.

1730: Warren Gatland will need to dish out the half-time team talk of his life if his team are to end their 20-year losing streak at Twickenham. Defence coach Shaun Edwards will be seriously unimpressed with Wales' first-half performance.

1727: Bad news for Ireland fans - centre Gordon D'Arcy will miss the entire 2008 Six Nations after breaking his arm against Italy. The Leinster man will have an operation on Monday.

1725: "Now what Wales need to do is to knuckle down and go for it, England are struggling with injuries and constant pressure will eventually force mistakes. I have full faith that Hook's kicking can bring us back into this game, a try before half time will make this game nice and close again."
nrj25988 on 606

1723: "Wales' defensive play is shocking - they need to get the tackles in or face an absolute beating from England. Ryan, sort 'em out!" Anonymous on text 81111

1722: What a frenetic 40 minutes, I'm still reeling from those multitude of changes in the first changes. England are dominating, but they should have a greater advantage than their 13-point cushion.

HALF-TIME: England 16-6 Wales

40 mins: Popham is pinged again, this time for not rolling away from the tackle after the five-metre scrum. This one is slightly more obvious than his previous effort. England opt for the kick to touch rather than the three points, but Wales hold out from the line-out and win a crucial scrum. Craig Joubert blows for whistle straight after.

38 mins: Paul Sackey is bundled just short of the line, but he rolls over and grounds the ball somewhere close to the line. Referee Joubert isn't too sure either whether momentum or a double movement took the Wasps winger over, so opts to consult the TV official, who rules the footage was inconclusive. However England still have the advantage with the feed at a five-metre scrum.

36 mins: Bit harsh on Popham, who is penalised for playing the ball on the floor, the Scarlet flanker can feel a little aggrieved. However, if it makes him feel any better, Jonny Wilkinson misses the resulting penalty.

34 mins: PENALTY England 16-6 Wales
An unsubtle arm from Andrew Sheridan prevents Alix Popham from jumping at the line-out. Referee Craig Joubert doesn't like it and issues a stern warning to both captains before awarding the penalty to Wales. James Hook does the business to keep his side in touch.

32 mins: Shane Williams has been outstanding so far, jinking his feet this way and that.

29 mins: Lovely play between Shane Williams and Gavin Henson on the left wing sees Wales charging into England's 22, but top defending from second row Steve Borthwick, who snatches the ball in front of Martyn Williams's eyes to avert the danger.

"Warren really needs to give those Welsh players a rocket at half-time. England are going to run away with this any minute now."
richie4eva1 on 606

25 mins: Wales are at breaking-point - Mark Jones just about bundles Vainikolo to touch, but the England backs are playing at such an intense pace it's frightening.

22 mins: TRY England 16-3 Wales
What a brilliant score from England - a pinpoint crossfield kick finds Lesley Vainikolo, who barges Mark Jones aside to claim the catch, slips the pass inside to Toby Flood, who saunters over for the five points. A very rugby league-style try. Brilliant from the Gloucester winger, who is decked out in the most impressive hair braids you will ever see. Wilkinson slots over the extras. Wales are shellshocked. England are rampaging.

"Just seen the shirt Austin Healey is wearing, proper Hawaiian style in freezing temperatures here at Twickenham, fantastic."
James, Twickenham on text 81111

19 mins: Great play from Lee Bryne, who catches his own high kick ahead of Andy Gomersall to give Wales good field position. But Shane Williams overcooks a cheeky chip for Mark Jones to run on to.

16 mins: DROP GOAL England 9-3 Wales
Who else but Jonny Wilkinson slots over a right-footed drop-kick to give England a six-point cushion. The game is high tempo, it's exciting and there are so many hard hits you would think it's the first day of the Harrod's new year sales.

15 mins: Toby Flood sends through an inviting crossfield grubber kick for Vainikolo to run onto. Mark Jones does well to gather - only to see the Tonga-born winger go flying over his head. If the former rugby league man made contact that would have been curtains for the Scarlets wing.

13 mins: Tom Rees is for Lewis Moody, there are injuries all over the shop. Physical it is. Vainikolo came on to a massive roar from the Twickers faithful, but it's disappointing for Strettle, who tweaked his ankle after such a promising start.

12 mins: Jonathan Thomas is knocked out cold after receiving an accidental forearm to the head. His head smashes into the floor, he is not looking good at all. Alix Popham comes on while David Strettle is replaced by Lesley Vainikolo. It's all going on here.

1646: "England 3 ITALY 0????? - No wonder England scored - they're probably still tired from the Ireland game..."
nr8209 on 606

Sorry, got a little overexcited. Red, blue, all looks the same.

10 mins: PENALTY England 6-3 Wales
Jonny Wilkinson slots over his second penalty after another line-out infringement. You think these boys would learn after the first one...

Eight mins: Lee Bryne, one of the 13 Ospreys players in Warren Gatland's first Welsh XV, makes an excellent clearance to the half-way line to clear the danger.

Six mins: Absolutely brilliant run from winger David Strettle, who jinks through the Welsh defence at searing pace. But the Quins winger opts to kick from hand rather than find wing partner Paul Sackey, who would have had the easiest of scores.

Five mins: Jonny Wilkinson makes a rare error kicking from hand outside his 22 and gives Wales useful position in the England half. But England manage to clear their lines through Toby Flood.

Three mins: PENALTY England 3-3 Wales
Wales immediately hit back after England are penalised for tackling a line-out jumper in the air. James Hook thumps over the penalty.

One minute: PENALTY England 3-0 Wales
England gets things under way and are immediately awarded a penalty for an infringement right infront of the posts 40 metres out. Not what you want when Jonny Wilkinson is lurking, and the fly-half kicks over the points.

1630: "God save the Queen" warms the cockles of the Twickers massive, Mark Regan lets out a cheeky grin.

1628: "Land of my Fathers" rings out as the Welsh players link arms and sing the anthem with gusto. All of them except Gavin Henson, who remains stony-faced throughout. He looks pretty pumped.

1627: Wales wander out of the tunnel to a massive expanse of pink cloth in the shape of a cross, while a steely-eyed Phil Vickery leads England out to a massive roar.

1625: "If you have Toby Flood at 12, you have to have a guy like Wilkinson to keep the calmness in the back. if England play to their strengths, it will be very difficult for Wales."
World Cup-winning coach Jake White on BBC One

1623: That was officially the fastest 10 minutes of my life.

1613: I've just attempted to get out of my seat, only to find my legs have absolutely no intention of supporting the rest of my body. And we're just half-way through the afternoon's entertainment. I'm off for a puy lentil bonanza so see you in 10 minutes.

1610: "With half an hour until kick-off at Twickenham, the stadium is gradually starting to fill up. Out on the field, the Welsh forwards are going through their line-out routines, a problematic area for them of late that England will no doubt try to exploit. England captain Phil Vickery has gathered his pack together at the other end of the pitch for a motivational pep-talk, before a bit of mauling practice. Expect plenty of that early doors."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at Twickenham

1606: "I have never been so proud of the way Italy has played. Sure they may have not won the game, but they really showed improvement. Standing ovation for their last three minutes, good game!"
santangeloluigi85 on 606

1603: "Temperature's dropping like a spent garryowen here. Lager drinkers now looking enviously at the hip-flask nippers. Welshmen looking increasingly nervous."
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce at Twickenham


1601: That's it - it's all over but you could hear a pin drop at Croke Park it's that subdued. Very unconvincing from Ireland, no doubt Eddie O'Sullivan will get plenty of flak for that performance, but fair play to Italy and their resilience. Had they possessed a more reliable kicker than David Bortolussi, it could have been a lot worse for the home side.

1559: Ireland are hanging on for dear life. It's like Georgia all over again. The Italians are keeping the ball alive brilliantly.

1558: The 80 minutes are up but Ronan O'Gara's kick somehow doesn't find touch. And the Italians are not going to go out without one last all-out assault on the Irish line.

1555: We're into the final 60 seconds, but Jonathan Kaplan orders to stop the clock as monster prop Martin Castrogiovanni goes to ground in a daze. The hirsute Leicester man (think George Chuter's World Cup beard) is helped off the pitch, but looks like he's not too badly damaged.

1554: Just two minutes left. Hold on to your hats.

1551: More tension for the Croke crowd as Ronan O'Gara misses a straight-forward penalty. Very unROG-like.

1550: Tony Buckley replaces prop John Hayes. Buckley has size 16 feet, his boots look like two canoes. Meanwhile outstanding scrum-half Reddan is replaced by Peter Stringer.

1548: Andrea Marcato replaces Bortolussi at full-back for the last eight minutes. Ireland make a surge for the line with Rob Kearney, but the winger is bundled out to touch.

1547: "Easterby's 'unseen' work which has been alluded to often this past week or so has been spotted by the referee. Four penalties, and deservedly yellow carded. He should not have been in the team."
apachechief on 606

1545: The strained atmosphere at Croke Park tells you how nerve-jangling this game is. The crowd will not have been too impressed with Ireland conceding possession inside Italy's 22. If you're Irish and still have nails to bite, keep chomping down because this game is going down to the wire.

1543: PENALTY Ireland 16-11 Italy
More indiscipline from Ireland, who concede a penalty near enough in front of their posts on the 22m line. David Bortolussi, who has had a bit of a shocker with the boot, makes no mistakes, but to be fair, even I would have a good chance of getting that one over. Still all up for grabs.

1541: "It's laboured from Ireland, but often the opening matches are like that. Teams haven't played together for a long time."
Hawick on 606

1538: PENALTY Ireland 16-8 Italy
Mirco Bergamasco can't resist sticking his hands where they shouldn't belong (that's a ruck by the way) and gives Ronan O'Gara a simple penalty opportunity in front of the posts. The fly-half duly obliges to draw level with Welsh legend Neil Jenkins in the all-time leading Five/Six Nations point scorers.

1536: Eddie O'Sullivan brings on flanker Jamie Heaslip for his Six Nations debut in place of the erratic Simon Easterby after his spell in the sin-bin, while hooker Bernard Jackman comes on for Rory Best.

1534: TRY Ireland 13-8 Italy
Italy snaffle the line-out and bundle over the line with Sergio Parisse from the resulting maul. However referee Jonathan Kaplan goes to the TV official to find out whether there is any reason why he can't award the try. Replays are inconclusive as the ball is hidden in the throng of the pack, but there doesn't look like an Irish hand under the ball. Tough call for TMO Tim Hayes, who orders more replays but eventually says he cannot find a reason not to award the try. But more poor kicking from Bortolussi, who pulls his conversion attempt wide. That miss could prove to be crucial.

1528: Martin Castrogiovanni, the Leicester prop the size of Melton Mowbray, makes a fantastic break and is only denied eating up more yards by a desperate tap tackle from Ronan O'Gara. However Italy recycle the ball out to the right flank and are rewarded for their endeavours with a penalty, opting to kick to touch with their line-out looking very efficient.

1525: PENALTY Ireland 13-3 Italy
Yet another confident break from Reddan - definitely the stand-out player of the game - and Ireland have a penalty in front of the posts for Italian hands in a ruck. Ronan O'Gara thumps over the penalty and Ireland regain their 10-point lead.

1523: More safe hands in the Italian line-out - the visitors have won all 13 from Leonardo Ghiraldini's throws.

1520: Bortolussi makes a real howler from a penalty on the half-way line, almost skewing his place kick to the touchline. Actually, it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't something to tell your grandmother about.

1518: SIN-BIN
Lovely take from David Bortolussi from a O'Gara up-and-under, but he has the ball ripped away after he comes to ground by flanker Simon Easterby, who is blatantly off his feet. Referee Kaplan doesn't like it one bit and sends the Scarlets man to the bin. Needless penalty.

1515: Travagli sends a high box kick for winger Pablo Canavosio to chase, but Reddan mops up the danger on his tryline.

1512: "Two things from the first half. Ireland still not playing to the standard they have reached in the last couple of years. Reddan looks good but overall its just not quite happening for them. Italy not really up to much at the moment, missing Troncon's influence."
Edinburgh Pete on 606

1510: A fantastic probing run from Eoin Reddin into the 22 puts Brian O'Driscoll through, but the centre is held up 10m from the Italian line. The ball is quickly recycled but O'Gara is penalised for a tight forward pass.

1508: Italy get the second half under way.

1507: Both teams are back out at Croke Park - and Santiago Dellape is back on after his soul-searching on the sin-bin. Mallett makes one change, replacing Josh Sole with Alessandro Zanni. Ireland keep it real with the XV that finished the first half.

1505: Just seen footage of the England players arriving at Twickenham and OH MY DAYS what is that on Lesley Vainikolo's head? The Volcano said he was going all out with something special on his tete for the England fans. It's some sort of multi-coloured headband restraining that affluent barnet. Brilliant.

1502: "Toffs and Taffs as far as the eye can see at Twickers. The thirsty thousands are keeping half an eye on the Ireland match on the giant screens while they wet their whistles."
BBC Sport's Tom Fordyce at Twickenham

Not only is one half of the famous Rugby World Cup double act keeping tabs at England HQ, we also have rugby genius Bryn Palmer on the case too. Expect more from these boys in the next couple of hours.

1500: "I don't care who wins I just hope the second half isnt as eye-bleedingly boring as the first!"
Gav1ndav1d on 606

1459: The prognosis is not looking good for centre Gordon D'Arcy, who has a suspected broken wrist. Not good news for Eddie O'Sullivan.

1457: "It says italy and the date of the game under the collar. Adds thousands to the memorabilia value I'm sure.
Jon, Birmingham (in response to Louise at 1435) on text 81111


1455: Ireland make a late surge towards the Italian line with a sweeping move, but Geordan Murphy is crunched in midfield. O'Driscoll also gets similar treatment from maurading flanker Mauro Bergamasco, oooof! That hurt. Ireland are penalised for diving off their feet and Italy clear for half-time.

1452: Not exactly a game for the purists, but it's enthralling nonetheless.

1450: Ireland 10-3 Italy
Italy earn their first point-scoring opportunity as Ireland are caught offside in front of the posts. David Bortolussi makes no mistake from the 22m line.

1448: Squeaky-bottom time for O'Gara, who gambles on the ball going out of touch from Bortolussi's grubber kick, only to see it bobbling along the touchline. Bortolussi actually manages to kick the ball into O'Gara's face, which then goes out to touch. O'Gara quite literally saved face.

1446: "I was really disappointed that the invigorating Italian anthem was cut short! Is this a ploy of sorts to demoralise them? I hope not. Good game though!"
Audrey on text 81111

1444: More intelligent Irish play as O'Driscoll drills a kick to the corners, but once again the Italy line-out is working efficiently and the visitors clear their lines.

1443: SIN-BIN
Santiago Dellape is sent to cool his boots for 10 minutes when referee Kaplan spots the second row making two punches. Poor discipline, especially with his side in a promising possession in Irish territory.

1440: Reddan makes a gaffe as he gathers the ball for a kick on his 22m line. Murphy uses the "squeeze ball" tactic to secure possession, but referee Kaplan doesn't like it one bit and orders an Italian penalty. Masi kicks for territory, not a bad shout with the Italian line-out looking pretty slick.

1436: A massive blow for Ireland as slippery centre Gordon D'Arcy is led off the field after hurting his arm in a tackle on Andrea Masi. A bit of reorganising for Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan as Andrew Trimble moves to outside centre, O'Drsicoll to inside centre and debutant Rob Kearney to the right wing. What a time to come on.

1435: "What is written on irish shirts under the collar?"
Louise on text 81111

Haven't a Scooby Doo - anyone else know?

1432: O'Gara opts to kick to touch from 10m out, but once again Best overthrows the line-out. He is saved by referee Kaplan's whistle for a lifting infringement.

1430: Eoin Reddan is looking particularly tasty this afternoon, the Wasps scrum-half makes a sniping run from the base of the scrum but can't find Trimble to finish off the move. However, more scoring opportunities for O'Gara after Italy kill the ball in the ruck after David Wallace's run.

1426: TRY Ireland 10-0 Italy
A smart crossfield kick from O'Gara finds Trimble, who pounces on the kind bounce to put Girvan Dempsey through for the first try of the tournament on 18 minutes. O'Gara adds the extras.

1425: Play is halted as Santiago Dellape receives attention for a cut. O'Gara - decked with a natty headband with green piping - and captain O'Driscoll are having an in-depth discussion about a potentially expansive move from the impending scrum.

1423: Ireland squander a brilliant try-scoring opportunity when Geordan Murphy, who smartly collects a O'Gara crossfield kick, cannot find full-back Girvan Dempsey on the outside. A flatter pass and it would have been try time.

1421: Denis Leamy snaffles a stray ball in an Italian ruck, nice work from the Munster number 8.

1419: Ireland 3-0 Italy
South African referee Jonathan Kaplan gives Ireland the first penalty of the match after Italy scrum-half Pietro Travagli gets a little too keen with his boot in a ruck. O'Gara slots over the frist points of the match from the right touchline just outside the 22m line.

1417: "I just realised that Brian O'Driscoll looked like Jamie Oliver. England to cook Ireland and to win the Six Nations."
Cambelonimacaroni on 606

1415: Italy put together a useful string of passes before Ireland turnover on their 40m line, shipping the ball out to Geordan Murphy on the left wing. Lots of clever offloads and recycling see Ireland pull up five metres short of Italy's line when Andrew Trimble is isolated and turns over the ball. Italy scramble the ball to their 22.

1412: Butterfingers from full-back Bortolussi, who fluffs a O'Gara up-and-under, giving Ireland a perfect attacking platform inside Italy's 22. However Munster fly-half O'Gara massively overcooks a crossfield kick for winger Andrew Trimble to chase.

1410: "The Italian anthem really is great. So is the French, for all their shortfallings (mainly being French)."
Nuclear Spur on 606

1409: Poor start from Ireland hooker Rory Best, whose first line-out falls into Italian hands. But Ronan O'Gara makes amends with a probing deep kick just outside of Ireland's 22m line.

1407: Italy captain Sergio Parisse makes a safe catch and sends the ball out to full-back David Bortolussi, who makes a confident kick up to the half-way line.

1406: The roars echo out and Ronan O'Gara gets the 2008 Six Nations under way.

1403: The Italian anthem gets me everytime, it's such a joyous piece of work that I want to be an Italian, for a minute at least. The Argentine anthem is another favourite. Croke Park joins in a rousing verse of the national anthems and "Ireland's call".

1400: There's a bit of a pregnant pause between the anthems and Mary McAleese scooting up the stairs to her seat. There is a minute's silence for the father of Carlos Nieto, who passed away during the week.

1356: Here comes Republic of Ireland president Mary McAleese to meet the teams. Plenty of brisk handshaking and a few cheeky smiles from Brian O'Driscoll, a few waves to the crowd and she's off.

Ireland: Dempsey, Trimble, B O'Driscoll (capt), D'Arcy, Murphy, O'Gara, Reddan; Horan, Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Kelly, Easterby, D Wallace, Leamy.
Replacements: Jackman, Buckley, M O'Driscoll, Heaslip, Stringer, P Wallace, Kearney.

Italy: Bortolussi, Robertson, Canale, Mi Bergamasco, Canavosio, Masi, Travagli; Lo Cicero, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Dellape, Del Fava, Sole, Ma Bergamasco, Parisse (capt).
Replacements: Festuccia, Perugini, Nieto, Reato, Zanni, Marcato, Galon.

1351: Nick Mallett has named a brand new half-back pairing with Pietro Travagli at scrum-half and Andrea Masi at fly-half. Masi has never played at 10 for Italy before. Gamble? Possibly. We'll know a little more in 10 minutes time.

1349: Apparently Italy coach Nick Mallett tonked a couple of sixes off Ian Botham playing for Oxford University against Somerset in the 1980s. England's favourite all-rounder (sorry Freddie) wasn't too pleased and promptly sent down a flurry of rapid bouncers to let him know.

1345: Just 15 minutes before kick-off at Croke Park and Brian O'Driscoll is looking...what's the word? Pensive. That could be the weather, but I wouldn't say he's looking super relaxed. There is definitely an added pressure on Ireland's talisman (I wonder how many times those two words have been written together).

1340: "My boyfriend is Irish and even though I was born is England and have lived here my entire life, he thinks I should abandon my country and support Ireland. Should I chuck him?"
Eamon's girlfriend (see 1309) on text 81111

Oh dear Eamon, start digging that hole. Nonetheless, I like your girlfriend's style.

1339: "Iain Balshaw is a real weakness for England. If Wales want to win this game that is the area they have to attack England."
Former England centre Jeremy Guscott on BBC One

1336: World Cup-winning coach Jake White is making a special guest appearance on BBC One with John Inverdale and Jeremy Guscott. Invers asks him about the Lions coach job and the former South Africa coach says: "Never say never. It is something I would look at."

Blimey, now that's box office.

1332: "Don't mention the "M" word. My Six Nations is being heavily impacted by preparations for a dinner party this evening, not even in the pub yet."
Eamon on text 81111

What marriage? You mean she wants to get married? You've got two hopes of getting out to the pub on time. But we'll keep you entertained, my pate-preparing, vegetable-julienning friend.

1328: "Only chuck her if she decides she's Irish if they win the tournament."
Ben H in response to Eamon (see 1309) on text 81111

1324: The Twickers car park is full of patrons slapping on the black olive tapenade on their organic sunflower seed bloomers, although it's as cold as an Eskimo's fridge in south west London, hardly ideal picnic conditions.

1322: "I'm really looking forward to seeing Lesley Vainikolo and Danny Cipriani. England, for the first time, have real impact on the bench. But if (winger) Shane Williams gets any space, he could be the man that decides the game for Wales."
Former England back Austin Healey on BBC One.

1320: "Odd isn't it? This tournament is more exciting to me and, I suspect, to most, than the Rugby World Cup. And England v Wales is a cracker of a game to start it off. England to win and to build on the World Cup."

1317: History is against Nick Mallett at Croke Park this afternoon. Italy have never beaten Ireland in the Six Nations. However Italy did give Ireland a right proper run for their money in a pre-World Cup friendly which Ireland won 23-20 in Belfast.

1315: "You play in the back three you expect the high balls - you expect the pressure."
England full-back Iain Balshaw on Warren Gatland's threat to target the Gloucester full-back.

1309: "My girlfriend is half-lrish, yet she insists on calling herself English, she's even bought a shirt. Does anyone else have an example of an inexplicable nationality choice and should l chuck her?
Eamon, Wimbledon on text 81111

Woah there Eamon, let's not throw the baby out of the bath water just yet. Maybe she needs a little coaxing to see your point of view. However any woman taking a man's point of view is marriage material. Anyone else got any advice for Eamon?

1306: "Ireland 27 Italy 10, Engalnd 24 Wales 13. Honestly one of the most open championships in history. I can't call it!"
Time_on_my_side on 606

Time_on_my_side is a great name, are you Danny Cipriani in disguise?

1256: "On my way to Croker now. Ireland to win the Grand Slam this year."
paulo6891 on 606

1301: Most be hard work being an international rugby player for Italy trying to attract the attentions of the calcio-loving public. Despite their best ever Six Nations performance in 2007 - two wins over Scotland and Wales - the Azzurri only went and had a stinker at the World Cup. But they've got a very useful man in charge. Nick Mallett lead South Africa to 27 victories in 38 Tests from 1997 to 2000, including a world record 17 successive wins.

Just one win will do at Croke Park.

Bold prediction from Paulo, anyone else want to stick their neck out?

1252: "Wales 2 win and throw all the doubts out of the window. Cmon u Dragons!!!!!"
Anonymous on text 81111

No doubt Anonymous is not the only person decked in red and white with similar thoughts. I can see new coach Warren Gatland delivering a Churchillian-style teamtalk, the kind of motivation which would inspire his players to run through brick walls. And with Shaun Edwards at his side, Wales definitely will not be lacking inspiration.

1246: If you're keeping an eager eye out on the footy scores, my über colleague Paulo Fletchero is doing a tremendous job on this afternoon's matches:

1243: "Not a good start, you do mean Mesdames et messieurs...picky, I know - hehe!"
Mark Fulham on text 81111

I knew it, I was playing with fire with my dabble in the language of love (of which I know tres peu) but hey, you can't fault a man for trying. Obviously you can if you are Mark from Fulham.

1240: "The Tri-Nations might be higher quality, but this is the best tournament in the world. Just love it. Living here as a Scot in Slovenia the withdrawal symptoms are particularly acute, no pictures (except for Wales games via Sky Welsh land channel - lengths I go to!) but I have tickets for Scotland v England.

Pains me greatly to forecast wins for England, Ireland and France this weekend."
Hawick on 606

1236: Wales may not have beaten England at HQ for two decades, but they did manage to beat them in 1999 at Wembley Stadium (Wales' temporary home while the Millennium Stadium was in construction). Chunky centre Scott Gibbs was the hero in the incredible 32-31 win, so anything remotely resembling that sort of entertainment and we'll all be reaching for the defibrillators.

1227: Don't let me rant on about helicopter spins all arvo, get yourselves involved via the 606 website or text 81111 with the word RUGBY before your comment.

1224: I'm so happy I could breakdance - anyone else bopping and beeping at home or in the middle of the frozen aisle at the out-of-town supermarket? Never mind the backspins, it's all about miss passes and line-out peels this afternoon as Ireland take on Italy in the Six Nations opener at 1400 GMT, before Wales aim to end their 20-year Twickenham hoodoo against England at 1630 GMT.

1220: Madames et monsieurs, signore e signori, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for some serious Six Nations action.

Ireland v Italy (Sat)
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
England v Wales (Sat)
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations Young Guns 2008
27 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations coaching brief
18 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations pundit predictions
28 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Rory Best column
01 Feb 08 |  Irish
Andy Gomarsall column
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Tom Shanklin's column
29 Jan 08 |  Welsh


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