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Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 12:44 UK

Wales host France in Friday clash

The Stade de France hosts the Six Nation's first Friday night game in 2009
The Stade de France hosts the Six Nation's first Friday night game in 2009

Wales will host its first Friday night Six Nations fixture against France in next year's championship at the Millennium Stadium on 26 February.

The two sides contested the RBS Six Nations' first Friday night game this year when France beat Wales 21-16 at Stade de France on 27 February.

Ireland start their Grand Slam defence against Italy as they kick-off the 2010 tournament in Dublin.

England will open at Twickenham against Wales on 6 February.

The 2010 tournament will celebrate the centenary of the first championship between the five original members and will conclude with a Saturday night fixture between France and England in Paris at 1945 GMT.

Welsh Rugby Union and Six Nations chairman David Pickering said Wales would be delighted to be involved in what he described as an ongoing fixture schedule experiment by playing again on a Friday night.

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Pickering added "The [2009] match in Paris... generated the biggest TV audience for a game in France at an average audience of 5.9m and TV audiences throughout the UK, Ireland and Italy where the second largest of all the fifteen tournament games, at 11m.

"We had a sell-out Stade de France crowd, a tremendous atmosphere and produced one of the best matches of the tournament for the neutral.

"In Wales we would obviously like to reverse the result next year, but we are very much looking forward to what should be a great night out in Cardiff for the fans, a bumper TV audience and a magnificent atmosphere for the players within the confines of the Millennium Stadium.

"Our own rugby clubs, with Cross Keys RFC being a prime example, have reported a genuine positive impact from the Friday night fixture with club-houses around Wales full to the rafters and record takings being reported in the bars.

"The practice will be reviewed after the two-year period agreed by the Six Nations Board and properly evaluated, but we are starting to see genuine reasons for saying the experiment is a successful one.

"The new TV deal itself has provided a welcome boost to WRU coffers and it must be noted that Wales has not had a home Sunday fixture to contend with for three seasons now.

"The schedule always throws up individual difficulties for every team and all sides have different elements to cope with in a season, but we are embracing Friday nights and the commercial impact for us has already been rewarding."


2010 SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES

Saturday, 6 February

1430 GMT: Ireland v Italy
1700 GMT: England v Wales

Sunday, 7 February

1500 GMT: Scotland v France

Saturday, 13 February

1400 GMT: Wales v Scotland
1630 GMT: France v Ireland

Sunday, 14 February

1430 GMT: Italy v England

Friday, 26 February

2000 GMT: Wales v France

Saturday, 27 February

1330 GMT: Italy v Scotland
1600 GMT: England v Ireland

Saturday, 13 March

1430 GMT: Ireland v Wales
1700 GMT: Scotland v England

Sunday, 14 March

1430 GMT: France v Italy

Saturday, 20 March

1430 GMT: Wales v Italy
1700 GMT: Ireland v Scotland
1945 GMT: France v England



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see also
Wales 15-17 Ireland
21 Mar 09 |  Rugby Union
France 21-16 Wales
27 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Rugby's Friday night project
26 Feb 09 |  Wales


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