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Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Six Nations as it happened

LATEST ACTION (all times GMT)

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By Ben Dirs

1908: Right folks, thanks for staying with it today, I know it's been painful at times. Not sure what conclusions to draw really, other than Wales aren't going to be winning any Grand Slams, Ireland will have to step it up three or four gears, question marks remain about England - and France deserved their pre-tournament favourites tag. Bye! From knowsit on 606: "Haven't said this in quite a few years but well done England, you deserved to win this one. Although I feel England hardly dominated Wales, I can only vent my frustration at key Welsh mistakes that England took full advantage of."
Wales coach Warren Gatland: "The most disappointing factor is conceding 17 points when we were down to 14 men. We've talked about discipline all week and then that happens. Shaun Edwards told Alun Wyn Jones at half-time, I just hope you never do that again in your career, it was stupid and probably cost Wales the game. It's huge, it's massive, and it's something we need to look at for next week."


From HCP on 606: "A poor performance by both teams really... Not a good advert for the Six Nations today, the first match was bad too. England can consider themselves very fortunate to win, but having said that Wales had them rocking at the end..."
FULL-TIME:England 30-17 Wales Remarkable how sport can turn on such small things - the final whistle blows, and the papers tomorrow will be full of talk of a single petulant trip by Alun Wyn Jones that led to his sin-binning and 17 points for England. Strange old game...

79 mins: PENALTY England 30-17 Wales Wilkinson from the halfway line and he strikes it sweet as a nut, England home and hosed...

78 mins: Shane Williams turns on the style, finding a gap where there isn't one down the left-hand side. But England snuff out the threat, and manage to get it clear. Off goes Flood, on comes Hipkiss of Leicester. Penalty for England, and that could be it. James Haskell is Brian Moore's man of the match.

76 mins: TRY England 27-17 Wales Wales really pouring it on now, England aren't really in it. Hook to Halfpenny, who's on for Tom James, and the winger breaks a tackle. INTERCEPTION! England have scored, totally against the run of play. Jones it was with the pass, Armitage with the interception, and Flood set free. Tait turns his man inside-out before sending Haskell over for his second of the match. Wilkinson with the conversion, that's the match, surely...

72 mins: TRY England 20-17 Wales Hook with a barge-pole hand-off, but he still can't find a way through... BUT THIS TIME HE DOES! Tremendous from Hook, although it was far too easy - he races onto a flat pass from Jones, slinks between Tait and Payne, before shrugging off a rather weak effort from Care. Jones with the extras, we've got a rollercoaster final eight minutes.

71 mins: This game is still anyone's as we enter the final 10 minutes. Wales win a penalty and that's a searching kick from Jones. Louis Deacon on for Simon Shaw in the England second row. Wales with an overthrow at the line-out, and England nick it again.

68 mins: Wales steal a line-out, before Wales spin it right. Andy Powell pirouettes out of two tackles, but it's so, so scrappy out there, there's another bouncing ball and it all comes to nought. I've got to be honest, this is almost as bad as Ireland-Italy, and that's saying something. Cooper sends out a woeful pass to Jones, Jones spills, before Simon Shaw spills for England. A lot of spillage.

64 mins: England 20-10 Wales Hesitant in the Wales midfield, with Hook not knowing whether to give or go himself. Very tense now as the game heads into the final quarter. Jones tries a toe-punt and England turn the ball over. Apparently Adam Jones' try isn't showing up - there's no conspiracy, I have described it, it's those gremlins again...

60 mins: Ryan Jones picks up from the back of the scrum, before the onrushing Armitage spills the high clearance. On come front-row replacements Dan Cole and Steve Thompson, for David Wilson and Dylan Hartley. Cooper with the sniping run and he releases James, but he's hauled down. Cole of Leicester on debut of course.

59 mins: Wales have been very poor under the high ball today - this time Ryan Jones mysteriously chooses not to make an attempt, the ball dribbles free and England are on it. Cueto grubbers on the left flank, and it's a five metre scrum.

57 mins: Wales very nearly nick one against the head five metres out, Hartley not striking cleanly. England penalty, Wales not driving straight, I think, and Wilkinson sticks it in row Z.

56 mins: Not straight at the line-out from Wales, they're all over the shop. Silly from Simon Shaw, off his feet at the ruck, and Jones has another chance... no he does'nt, he kicks for territory instead. Gareth Williams gets the walking stick form coach Warren Gatland, on comes replacement hooker Huw Bennett. His first delivery is long, and Martyn Williams snaffles at the back and goes on a run. That should have been a try for Wales - the ball goes left from a ruck, Hook scythes through the England midfield, but the final pass to Tom James ricochets off his chest.

52 mins: Stephen Jones with another penalty opportunity, from some distance, and that comes up well short. Armitage gets hold of the ball and relieves some pressure courtesy of a howitzer of a clearance.

48 mins: TRY England 20-10 Wales James scythes through the England midfield, before Lee Byrne takes up the cudgel, smashing through a couple of tackles down the left flank. Wales penalty, England skipper Steve Borthwick diving over the ruck. Bit harsh, looked like that ball was out. Wales opt for the scrum, seems a bit early for all that... and again, but the Welsh scrum, two Lions shy, is under pressure. Cooper manages to release Jones under pressure, before the ball goes back left - and who's there? Prop Adam Jones, who thinks about giving it to Shane Williams before getting his head down and going over himself. Fine flat pass from Wyn Jones to open England up. Jones slots the conversion, the visitors right back in this.

43 mins: Another Welsh knock-on under the high ball, Tom James this time, and it's an England scrum. England penalty, and Wilkinson finds touch. Easter wins at the tail, but it's slow ball again from England, and by the time it does get shipped, England's backs have got no room to play.

41 mins: Players are back out, and you'd have to think England will have to throw the dice in the first five minutes, with Wales still down to 14 men. Stephen Jones gets play under way...

Text in your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)
Bruce Nelson, Kinross, via text on 81111: "I agree with Brian Moore. Refs should not get their ticket until they have played a front row position for a season. It is a place where only those who've played really understand."

From wideernie on 606: "What has happened to rugby these past few years? It has become turgid, cloying, unexpansive drivel to watch. Teams are terrified of making mistakes and play the constant ruck then kick it down the field type of garbage which will kill the game if not addressed."
HALF-TIME: Not a great spectacle to be honest - not much quick ball from the breakdown from either side, pretty scrappy all-round, lots of mistakes, but that yellow card for Wyn Jones changed everything.

40 mins: TRY England 13-3 Wales Nick Easter and Care make a mess of things at the back of the scrum, but England keep hold of the ball. Wilson to Borthwick, but the England captain comes up short... and the Wales dam finally cracks, Haskell spotting a gap, peeling off left and bundling over for the try. Wilkinson with the extras, Alun Wyn Jones will be keeping very quiet in the changing room at half-time...

39 mins: Can Wales hold out? Would be massive if that could prevent an England score with 14 against 15. Care taps and goes but is held up short.... England go again, but the ball is held up over the line. I think it was Simon Shaw, but I can't be sure...

39 mins: England, up against 14, go on the charge, with Wilkinson releasing Monye on the left. Monye shrugs off a couple of tackles, but is finally dragged down. Monye released again, but he's snaffled just short of the line, and England have blown that - they're unable to extricate the ball from the ruck with four men arrayed against one.

35 mins: PENALTY England 6-3 Wales Desperately slow from the breakdowns from both sides, and as Brian Moore has just observed on the telly, it looks like both sides have tightened up already, there are mistakes all over the pitch at the moment. Alun Wyn Jones is off - silly, very silly, sticking out a leg and tripping the barrelling Hartley. That's handy for England, Wales have just gifted them three points, Wilkinson slotting with ease.

32 mins: Lee Byrne looks to be adventurous and just manages to slip the ball to Tom James, but it comes to nil. Bit of aimless kicking, before Ugo Monye finally eschews the boot and decides to have a go. A half-break, but he's scragged. Tom James fumbles a high ball, before Cueto this time has a run. Another high kick from England, and another knock-on by Wales, this time Lee Byrne culpable. Have to be honest, this isn't great either.

28 mins: PENALTY England 3-3 Wales Gareth Cooper mugs Danny Care at an England scrum, but ruins it by kicking when he should have taken the tackle. Wales look to go wide, but they're enveloped by a cream blanket. Flood is snaffled and smothered by Charteris, and the England centre is penalised for holding onto the ball. Stephen Jones is going to have a go this time, and it just has the legs. Wales level, and that seems about fair.

25 mins: Martyn Williams with great vision, spotting a gap down the blind-side, and he also manages to stay in play. But England win the ball back and Cueto puts in a decent clearance kick.

23 mins: Armitage runs from deep, but that's a loose pass... Tait gathers and darts forward, but it ends up with a Wales penalty as England are penalised for I'm not sure what... Hook to have another go from range, and this time he's squirted it right of the uprights.

21 mins: The Welsh line-out is as rickety as the Italian's - nicked for the third time, and England spin it wide. Hartley with the initial break, but England blow the overlap, Tom James putting in the crucial tackle.

19 mins: Borthwick claims the throw, but that's mighty defence from Wales, and the ball, with Easter attached to it, is held up. David Wilson receiving treatment now, England will need him from five metres out. Bit of handbags in the front row as the referee calls for the scrum to be reset, before Wilson is pinged for collapsing and Wales clear.

18 mins: England looking solid at scrum-time, but they're not having much of a go thus far. England get on a rumble, before Care releases Wilkinson on the inside. Silly from Wales, a hand in the ruck shovelling the ball back, and Wilkinson kicks for the corner. Looks like he had the distance there, but what a kick that is - big chance for the hosts.

15 mins: Wilkinson sticks up a garryowen and Lee Byrne fumbles the high ball. Flood nearly gathered, but not quite. Naughty from Powell, trailing a leg and catching the onrushing Wilkinson, but the referee takes no action.

13 mins: Delon Armitage sticks a poor kick down the throat of Stephen Jones, Jones kicks it back to Care, and Wales skipper Ryan Jones collects a 'stinger' after being bounced off the marauding Moody. Break in play, at least this game has got some fizz about it.

12 mins: PENALTY England 3-0 Wales Easter with a fine one-handed take at the line-out, and England win the penalty, at least three Welsh men were off their feet there. Wilkinson slots three easy points, but Wales have reason to be upset - how could that line-out throw possibly have been straight if Easter was having to reach for it with his right hand?

10 mins: England turnover in their own 22, and Wilkinson clears their lines off his left peg. Wasted chance for Wales, before England burgle then Welsh lineout again. Danny Care with a sniping break, and Wales are penalised for an early tackle. Wilkinson pins Wales into their 22.

8 mins: Hook's long-range effort drops just short and wide of the left upright, before Wales get on the front foot for the first time. Martyn Williams with the drive, and he reappears in midfield to smash through the England defence. Wilkinson ends up with the ball after a kick through, and he's scragged and hauled into touch.

6 mins: England pick off the Welsh line-out, before Care puts in the box kick. England are off-side though, and this is a kickable penalty for Wales after all that early England possession.

5 min: Solid first scrum by England, but the work off the breakdown is a little laboured. Hartley is driven back again, and Wales aren't giving England any space to work in. Eventually England are pinged at the breakdown as Toby Flood is turned, and Stephen Jones relieves the pressure.

3 min: Wilkinson with the inside pass and Dylan Hartley is clobbered and driven backwards. Ten phases in and Wilkinson cocks the hammer and kicks the ball long. Wales play silly beggars in their own 22, and eventually Roberts knocks on - England scrum.

1 min: Tell you what, this England kit's pretty sharp - Edwardian style, space-age material, not a sponsor in sight. England look like dandies, let's hope they can play like dandies too. Referee Alain Rolland, and it's Jonny Wilkinson to get us under way...

1702: Princes William and Harry shake hands with the players, and it's almost time for the anthems. Here they are, Land Of My Fathers up first... plenty of visiting fans in by the sound of things, but the England fans are going to rip this stadium some new holes...

1659: A minute's applause for commentating great Bill McLaren, who died last month, and he would have been relishing this atmosphere, there's a real fizz and pop about the place. It's been a lovely day in west London, so we should get a bit of running rugby at least. Should...

1656: Wales are looking to beat England four times in a row for the first time since the halcyon days of 1979, and here they come. In the first game 100 years ago, England scored in the first minute before going on to win the match, although that probably has absolutely no relevance to what's going to happen today. Some atmosphere at Twickenham, and it's not often you hear someone say that.

1650: England will be resplendent in cream today - you heard that right, it's the centenary of England's first match at Twickenham and they're wearing replica kits. Wales were their opponents that day back in 1910, but they're not going old-school. These two sides have played each other 118 times, and they have 53 wins between them.

"The good thing is we've got good guys to come in, and Toby Flood's played a lot at 12 this season and he's played 12 in Tests as well. He's composed and good enough to say 'I can keep this position'. We need to play with confidence, but we need to work hard to be able to throw the ball around. It's all about pressure and how you handle it today. We have to go through phases and if there are chances we have to take them." England manager Martin Johnson

From deccie on 606: "Poor enough game with a lot of handling and kicking errors. I hope for next week's sake that this was just a case of rustiness and that Kidney will sort it out. Credit to Italy, however, they defended miraculously and made it tough for Ireland."
Tom Fordyce at Twickenham on Twitter: "England just shading it from Wales on collated Tweetdictions. Bands tootling on Twickpitch. Punters guzzling on the concourse."

1629: The hors d'oeuvre has left a nasty taste in the mouth let's hope the etc etc platitude platitude platitude. Seriously though, no-one likes to have rugby of that kind farted into their face, let's hope England v Wales, which starts in roughly half an hour, can waft away the stench. Team news: England have been forced to make a late change to their bench after Shontayne Hape was ruled out through illness. Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss, who started all three of England's autumn Tests, has been promoted to the bench.

"It was turgid stuff - not inspiring, slow, a little bit predictable and very little flair. Ireland won and they'll be very happy with that but they really need to up their performance. Italy were awful, usually in the first game of the Championship they are full of energy and verve, but they didn't have any of that today."
Former Ireland skipper Keith Wood on BBC One

From ILC on 606: "Flipping awful advert for rugby. You can understand Italy trying to be tight defensively and not throw the ball around, but Ireland have shown no intention to move the ball - playing totally risk averse rugby."
FULL-TIME:Ireland 29-11 Italy Well, this hasn't been much cop at all. Italy never really looked like they thought they could win it, and as soon as Ireland opened up a lead, they never looked like they were too fussed about building on it. As I type, Italy finally throw the dice, Mirco Bergamasco slicing through the Ireland midfield like a cheese wire. But the moves comes to nil, and referee Romain Poite puts a rabid badger of a game out of its misery. Awful. Really, really bad.

77 mins: Kearney with the garryowen, and Mauro Bergamasco's take is in vain as his team-mates are off-side. David Wallace is named man-of-the-match.

75 mins: O'Driscoll with a neat toe-poke through, as a stat flashes up - Italy have lost seven line-outs out of 16. You're not going to win many rugby matches with figures like that. Paddy Wallace has shaken things up a bit, as he takes the ball on the switch from O'Driscoll. Hayes is off, Tom Court's on, Reddan on for O'Leary at scrum-half, Sean O'Brien on for David Wallace in the back-row.

70 mins: Not a single off-load from Italy in this match, which is an indication of just how much of a grind this match has been. Ireland ship it left, Earls scythes through and releases Kearney. A big hole appears in the Italian defence and D'Arcy needs no second invitation. Nothing comes of it though, and Italy clear their lines. Ice and strapping on O'Gara's right leg, looks like Paddy Wallace could be the man against France in Paris next week.

68 mins:PENALTY Ireland 29-11 Italy Paddy Wallace, on for Ronan O'Gara, barrels through a couple of tackles. Wasn't a great display from O'Gara - he kicked his goals, but it would have been nice to see a bit more ambition. Or am I just being old-fashioned? Anyway, here's Paddy Wallace with a penalty from in front of the posts and he threads it through.

65 mins: Earls gets his mitts on it and immediately shows some ambition, but he's scragged. O'Leary stands over the ball at the rear of the ruck, pointing and shouting the odds as the seconds tick by and Italy reorganise their ranks. I'm not an international player, and I'm not an international coach, but I really don't understand why both sides seem to be so reluctant to ship quick ball from the breakdown. Nasty cut for Gower, he's off.

63 mins: After the big build-up, you have to say it's all been a bit of a letdown in Dublin. The sad part is, Ireland look like they've decided to sit on that first-half lead, and you have to say that's not really in the spirit of things. Whatever happened to that old mantra "don't give the ball away"? O'Driscoll releases Tommy Bowe, who makes a half-break but is unable to slip the pass.

62 mins: Too easy to organise the ranks against those Irish rucks, that was very pedestrian from the hosts. O'Connell's had a whack on the top of the head and Donncha Ryan of Munster replaces him.

60 mins: Andrea Masi is on for his 47th cap, he replaces try-scorer Robertson. Rory Best is also on for Jerry Flannery, and he finds his mark with his first lineout throw. Good evasion from Wallace at the back of the ruck, but the next time he gets it the ball is ripped from his paws by the muscular Bortolami. Just like that, the ball is back in the Irish 22.

58 mins: O'Gara finds his mark with his kick, and McLean hithers and dithers before being mugged by a posse of green shirts. Ireland penalty from a resulting scrum, and O'Gara kicks for the corner, to roars from the Croke Park faithful.

56 mins: Changes: Castrogiovanni exits, on come Saracens' Ongaro; for Ireland, Keith Earls replaces Trimble on the wing - it's his Six Nations debut, and let's hope he gives it a rip, this game needs it.

55 mins: Bowe slings out a ropey old pass before Kearney, in space, opts to kick ahead. McLean looks to go on the outside, and is collared, literally by O'Leary. Lucky to get away with that, the Ireland scrum-half, but Italy don't take advantage, their line-out is burgled once again.

54 mins: Heaslip, perhaps recognising his side are stagnating slightly, takes a quick tap and goes, but after a Kearney half-break, O'Driscoll kicks straight into touch. Cracking take from Trimble, before O'Driscoll pins Italy in their 22 with a peach of a kick.

51 mins: Gloucester's Marco Bortolami is on for Del Fava in the Italian second row, as the Italian fans start to buzz. The Italian line-out still like a Swiss cheese, however, there's another steal from Cullen.

49 mins: Ireland really need to keep the ball in hand here, they're spending far too much time in their own half largely because they keep kicking the ball away. O'Gara with a horrible slice, but McLean sticks it straight back down Kearney's throat. Not great this, before O'Gara threads one into touch.

47 mins:PENALTY Ireland 26-11 Italy That's the sixth penalty Italy have given away so far, this time it's Castrogiovanni who's the miscreant, and O'Gara slots his sixth kick out of six.

45 mins:PENALTY Ireland 23-11 Italy Mirco Bergamasco slots the three points from just left of the uprights, and Ireland have got something to think about all of a sudden.

44 mins: Cullen gives his opposite man a nudge at the line-out and Italy clear their lines. Sole with a solid take at the lineout, and they're quicker at the breakdown this time and force Bowe into a fumble. Penalty for Italy as Ireland try to kill the ball.

42 mins: Bit of ping-pong to start, before O'Gara bamboozles McLean with a ball that dribbles past him and into touch. No changes at half-time by the way.

41 mins: No idea what was going on with Italy in that first half, it appeared as if they were deliberately slowing their own ball down at the breakdown and their lineout was a dog's dinner. Saying that, Ireland weren't exactly great, but managed to make the most of some glaring Italian mistakes. O'Gara gets us under way...

HALF-TIME: Italy, still down to 14 men remember, just want that all to end - McLean picks his seat and pings the ball into the stands to bring the first half to a close. Play like that in the second half, and they'll get absolutely mullered.

38 mins:TRY Ireland 23-8 Italy This really is an awful display from Italy... AND THEY'VE SCORED! Box kick form Tedaldi, Kearney turns and looks to thread a kick down the line and Italy wing Robertson charges down and touches down. Mirco Bergamasco misses the conversion.

35 mins:TRY Ireland 23-3 Italy With points to play with, Ireland start to cut loose - the ball is sprayed left, Kearney making the initial break, before O'Gara's final pass goes straight into touch with the try-line beckoning. But that is a try, and it's O'Leary's first for Ireland. Leo Cullen smashing through the Italian defence, and number 9 O'Leary burrowing over like a giant mole... O'Gara with the extras, Italy are getting their pants pulled down.

33 mins:PENALTY Ireland 16-3 Italy We've got a yellow card for Gonzalo Garcia for a spear tackle, I think. Lovely stuff from O'Driscoll, flipping a pass to O'Gara on the loop, and O'Gara kicks the three-pointer.

32 mins: Good sniping from O'Leary, who very nearly puts Tommy Bowe in with a cheeky grubber. Ireland all over this Italian throw, and the visitors have lost possession in their own 22...

30 mins: Cullen with a steal at the line-out, but Ireland cough up the ball and full-back McLean very nearly spots a gap. That's not too clever from Gower, who balloons a kick miles long.

28 mins:PENALTY Ireland 13-3 Italy Del Fava is penalised for holding onto the ball straight from the kick-off and O'Gara makes Ireland's lead 10 again...

26 mins:PENALTY Ireland 10-3 Italy That's a cracking penalty kick from Craig Gower, that will provide the travelling fans with a modicum of succour 15 minutes before half-time.

25 mins: Italy splatter the Irish scrum and the referee penalises the hosts. Craig Gower's going to have a stab from way out, but it's pretty central...

23 mins: This is painful from Italy, the Irish back-line could have a little nap at ruck time and still have plenty of time to react. Bit of magic from O'Driscoll, sticking one over a rather fractured Italian back-line, collecting, but rather overcooking his next kick into touch.

20 mins: No threat from Italians at all at the moment, Ireland are all over them from the back of rucks. Bit of ping-pong, before O'Gara sticks up a garryowen and is taken out unceremoniously by Italy lock Geldenhuys.

18 mins: Italy really haven't settled so far - pedestrian from the back of the ruck, and this time it's Mauro Bergamasco who knocks on.

14 mins:TRY Ireland 10-0 Italy The rolling maul is back of course, and Ireland are using it to some effect so far today. Ireland score the first try of the Championship - O'Gara releases Trimble down the left flank with a whippy flat pass and Trimble shows some twinkle toes before being scragged. However, Ireland shovel it right, D'Arcy creates the space, O'Driscoll supplies a killer pass and Heaslip blunders over. O'Gara with the extras.

13 mins: Tebaldi's box kick goes straight into touch... big old hit from Trimble there, he's recovered from that smoking at the hands of Mauro Bergamasco. Ireland look to go wide, but they're smothered by the Italian midfield.

10 mins:PENALTY Ireland 3-0 Italy French referee Romaine Poite whistles for a penalty as Italy's front-row collapses the scrum. Early victory for the Ireland pack... O'Gara steps up, slots the three points and that's 502 points in the Championship for the Munster man.

9 mins: O'Leary, like a little eel, slithers past the first man before Hayes, in his 100th international cap, goes on a canter. Chip through from O'Gara from static ball, but Heaslip knocks on. Ireland starting to show some touches...

7 mins: Very slow ball for Italy, but Gower shows a touch of class, grubbering through for centre Canale - but Trimble and O'Gara smother him and the visitors give away the penalty.

4 mins: Ireland get a rumble on, but the recalled Trimble is clattered by Mauro Bergamasco coming into midfield and Ireland concede a penalty.

2 mins: That's not quick enough from Italy and second row Del Fava gets isolated and is pinged for hanging on. Ronan O'Gara, back in the side for the injured Jonny Sexton, clears his lines.

1 min: Italy kick-off, and the Six Nations is under way... Tebaldi with the box kick and that's a knock-on from opposite number O'Leary...

1432: Croke Park is buzzing, I repeat, buzzing, we'll have kickoff in a minute or so. Saying that, the ground is pretty far from being full, but you might expect that against Italy...

From Stargazer on 606: "Wouldn't it be wonderful - if you are not Irish - for Italy to start the Championship with a bang by winning or at least pushing Ireland very hard? Don't think that it will happen."
1425: Anthems now, or they'll be along in a minute, Ireland president Mary McAleese is in town and being introduced to the players...

1421: More on Italy's "colourful" fly-half Craig Gower: he won 18 caps for Australia in rugby league and has won three for Italy in union so far. The Italians are out, here come the Irish.

1418: Italy may never have have beaten Ireland in the Six Nations, but they did beat them three times between 1995 and 1997. But the omens are not good: before beating Samoa in their last game, they'd lost their previous 12. Ireland, meanwhile, have won nine of their last 10 games, and drew the other one.

From Cookie on 606: "England for the title. All laugh if you want, but we shall see."
1410: Italy have won just once on the road in 10 years, against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2007. But Ireland haven't always found it easy against the tournament late-comers - they only won 16-11 in Dublin in 2008. Eight players born outside Italy in their starting XV - two in Australia, two in New Zealand, two in South Africa and two in Argentina. One of them, fly-half Craig Gower, has a past that might be called colourful. Actually, that's something of an understatement, he makes Alex Higgins look monochrome by comparison, although I don't think he's ever threatened to have Dennis Taylor shot.

"Riki Flutey tackles like a 16st man, but with Toby Flood in at inside centre, Jamie Roberts will be rubbing his hands together thinking 'I've got something to run at now..." Jerry Guscott on BBC One

1357: Ireland may be holders, but they're not the favourites. You can get France at 6-4 with most bookies, while Ireland are 9-4. Of course, France have three home matches, they had a great win over New Zealand last summer and their club sides are looking hot in the Heineken Cup. Ireland, too, have three home matches, but they have to visit Twickenham and Paris.

From Teddingtontaff on 606: "The teams look very evenly matched. Wales to win if the backline are on fire, else England to romp home with their forward strength."
1349: Jonathan Davies reckons the loss of front-rowers Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees is "massive" for Wales, but I can't help feeling there's a bit of a mis-match in midfield since Flutey's injury - Flood and Tait against Hook and Roberts? Hmmm... Back in Dublin, there is a debut for Leinster flanker Kevin McLaughlin, in for the injured Stephen Ferris, while Ronan O'Gara needs just one point for 500 points in the Championship. By the way, get those texts in and have a chat on 606. You might enjoy it.

1344: Today is the centenary of England's first match at Twickenham, and, coincidentally, that was against Wales. But it's to Dublin first, and last season's Grand Slam winners Ireland against the Italians. This is Italy's 11th season in the tournament, and their record against Ireland reads: played 10, lost 10. Anyone reckon they're going to break their duck today? No? Didn't think so...

1340: Hello everyone. The Six Nations is back, and my guess is it's going to be splendid. Two games on the opening day: champions Ireland v Italy at 1430 GMT followed by England v Wales at 1700 GMT. I'm up for it - are you up for it?



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Johnson praises England execution
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England v Wales match stats
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England v Wales photos
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Ireland 29-11 Italy
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O'Driscoll frustrated after win
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Ireland v Italy photos
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Ireland v Italy
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Rugby union on the BBC
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Cullen drafted into Ireland team
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Italy unchanged for Ireland match
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England suffer Flutey injury blow
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Tackle laws concern for Williams
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Wales hit by Jenkins injury blow
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Tait earns recall to England side
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Keith Wood column
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Jeremy Guscott's players to watch
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Video - 2009 Six Nations review
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RBS Six Nations launch day
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