SCORE UPDATES AND MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times GMT)
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Thanks very much for your company and all your messages tonight. Apologies if I wasn't able to get yours included. I'm off to sit in a darkened room somewhere as I try to get over that. What a start. And there's plenty more to come. Mike Henson is your host tomorrow for Italy v Ireland and France v Scotland. Keep an eye on the website for all the reaction from Cardiff. That's it from me. Take care.
Wales coach Warren Gatland:
"I'm proud of the guys, it was a tough, physical game that could have gone either way. I take my hat off to England, they played well. At times we played some exciting rugby but we kicked away possession in the first half, there are things on the field that are hurting us that we need to address."
England manager Martin Johnson:
"It was a classic Test of its kind. There was an ebb and flow to it. They missed opportunities with kicks and with keeping the ball in hand. But that is the game."
England manager Martin Johnson is on the telly. He wants his side to stop giving the opposition chances to "get out of jail". He adds that he will hand out the tellings off on Monday. He doesn't smile after that. I think he means it.
Anon via text:
"Re: Wales being reffed out of the game, Jon Davies was lucky to still be on the pitch for his cynical trip."
So England now have Italy, France and Scotland at home while Wales travel to Scotland and Italy. They were far too predictable today. Should Hook now take that number 10 jersey from the start? That will be a big decision for Gatland in the next few days.
BBC Sport pundit Jeremy Guscott:
"England were very clinical, they were very steady today. They have done their homework and worked out where to strike Wales and with who. I was impressed with their second and third phase work."
BBC Sport pundit Jonathan Davies:
"I thought England were far more clinical - they should have finished Wales off earlier. They carried the ball well and looked far more penetrative."
theneverlution on Twitter:
"As an Englishman, you know you've played well in Cardiff when you silence the Welsh crowd. Well done England."
Anon via text:
"Wales reffed out of this. Example. What was different between the Welsh prop getting binned and the English centre not? For hands in ruck. Wales on halfway, England in their own red zone? Disgrace."
I make a confident prediction that the word 'clinical' is going to be well used in the next few days. England took their chances when they had them and while they were down to 14, they increased their lead.
FULL-TIME: Wales 19-26 England 80 mins:
Wales win the line-out from the penalty touch. They are on halfway. Can't see them getting through the England defence, though. Massive tackle from Shaw on Peel, England turn the ball over. That's it.
Wales, as you would expect, are giving it a real go. Shane Williams skips past Tindall but can't make any ground. Wilkinson with a big tackle, Wales concede a penalty. Haven't seen a replay to work out why yet. Wales have a minute.
That could be that. Lee Byrne is penalised for not releasing after a good tackle from Tom Palmer. The Stade Francais second row has had a fantastic game. Up steps Jonny Wilkinson
for the kick and Jonny does what Jonny does. Three points to England and Wales need something special now.
76 mins: PENALTY WALES 19-26 ENGLAND 73 mins:
England pick and go numerous times but Wales are strong in defence. Heroic. Wilson sees the white line and goes for it but red shirts swarm all over him. The Bath prop is pinged for not releasing the ball. Martin Johnson goes bonkers in the stands. Good luck with that Alain. Wales clear.
It's all England. The men in white are camped on the Welsh line. A try now would seal it.
No worries for Hook,
as he batters the ball through the posts. The Cardiff crowd erupt. This is going to be a grandstand finish. England subs: lock Simon Shaw for Deacon, hooker Steve Thompson for Dylan Hartley. Wales: scrum-half Dwayne Peel for Phillips, flanker Jon Thomas for Lydiate, prop John Yapp for Mitchell. Think that's it.
70 mins: PENALTY WALES 19-23 ENGLAND 69 mins:
Penalty for Wales after Hape charges into an offside position at a ruck. Soft. Do I need to tell you that Brian Moore is not happy with the Bath centre for that? No, thought not.
England's attack comes to an abrupt halt when they are pinged for a forward pass. Cue ironic jeers from the Cardiff crowd as they feel the ref missed an obvious one a little earlier. More subs. Jonny Wilkinson on for Flood while Wales bring on full-back Lee Byrne for Stephen Jones, James Hook moves to fly-half. Should that have happened sooner?
England inch closer to the Welsh line... but Wales turn it over. Prop Paul James grabs the ball. Phillips kicks it to safety but it does not find touch and falls into the hands of Cueto. Poor kick.
Toby Flood and Tom Wood are both receiving treatment in the middle of the paddock. Flood, covered in blue paint from the on-pitch advertising, dusts himself down and batters a penalty into touch. England sense another try here.
Lots of changes for England now. Dave Wilson comes on for Sheridan, Joe Worsley for Haskell and Danny Care for Ben Youngs.
60 mins: WALES 16-23 ENGLAND
Boy did Wales need that. Wales probe and England centre Shontayne Hape steps up way too quickly. Jon Davies arcs around him into a gap. He stands up his man and passes to Stoddart.
The ball is just behind the winger but he manages to grab it and fall ungraciously over the line. Stephen Jones
adds the extras. Wales back in it.
60 mins: TRY Wales 14-23 England 56 mins:
It was coming. England smell blood, the ball drifts wide and there's Mark Cueto with the miss pass to give Ashton
the simple task of touching down in the corner. Game over? Flood,
from the touchline, lands a superb conversion.
56 mins: TRY Wales 9-23 England 55 mins:
Wales survive the scrum. Ryan Jones picks up the ball from the base to charge forward. The ball is kicked to touch, England can come again. Big pressure.
England pile forward. Wales have to be strong here on their own line. The whistle blows, England have knocked the ball on. Ouch, Stoddart knee is trapped and twists as a pile of England bodies fall to the floor. John Yapp is on to give Wales a full compliment of front rowers. Dan Lydiate goes off. Big scrum here. By the way, the citing commissioner could be having a look at what looked like a trip by Jon Davies on Chris Ashton in that last passage of play. If the ref had seen that it could have been red.
Slow from Wales as they inch forward, eventually the ball does go wide and England swoop over a ruck to win the ball. Silly me, I forgot to say that Flood
kicked that penalty for England to put them seven points clear. I'll get my coat.
Mitchell does put his hand in the ruck but the offence wasn't in the 22. Would a warning have sufficed? Just asking the question.
Another big decision from Rolland. The first penalty of the half is against Wales and prop Craig Mitchell sees yellow.
47 mins: PENALTY Wales 9-16 England Injured England captain Lewis Moody on BBC One:
"I think Wales pressured hard but we absorbed that and the try it eased our nerves. But the turnovers have let them back into the game - and we all know how dangerous Wales are with turnover ball."
Adam & Chayle in a hotel lobby in Mexico:
"Missing the party back home, come on Wales! Glued to live updates."
Silly, silly penalty conceded by England. Chris Ashton is like an octopus at ruck and Wales get the penalty. Stephen Jones
adds the three points. "That will lift the crowd," says Brian Moore. "They were a bit subdued."
43 mins: PENALTY Wales 9-13 England 41 mins:
Crikey, that break didn't last long did it? We are off again. Flood gets the half under way. Not much noise from the Cardiff crowd at the moment.
Opta Sports on Twiiter:
"In the last nine meetings between these two in Cardiff neither side has managed to overturn a half-time deficit."
Craig in Edinburgh via text:
"Mark - Re: Andy Powell, I was just thinking he's a dead ringer for the blonde one out of Colin and Justin. What ya think?"I'll let you tell him!
Adam Lawrenson via text:
"Thank God for live text, glued to the lap top in Seattle airport, drinking something that vaguely resembles bitter, having had our flight cancelled yesterday!"
Jo via text:
"Stuck on the London to Plymouth train. For the price of the ticket you'd think they would throw in commentary over the public address system. Come on England!"
Phew, time to catch our breath. Some stats for you, England have had 59 % of possession, while Wales have had 56% of the territory. "England have been more clinical, more direct," says Jonathan Davies. "When they get into the danger zone, they come away with penalties."
HALF-TIME: Wales 6-13 England 40+2 mins:
Hang on, could Wales get something here? Shane Williams looks dangerous, but oh dear, he kicks it when he should have kept the ball in hand. My colleague next to me slams the desk in frustration. (He supports Wales, by the way). That really was a waste. The ball runs dead and that's half-time.
Wales centre Jon Davies kicks forward, Foden knocks on and Wales have a scrum in England's half. Deacon back on.
England enjoy a bit of possession after Warburton is pinged for hands in the ruck. The ball is kicked forward, Stoddart collects the loose ball near his own line and runs from deep.
toufic via text:
"Stuck in the office preparing presentations for my Middle East trip tomorrow. My lazy good-for-nothing rugby-mad junior legged it out of the office early when I wasn't looking to be with his mates to watch the game. Get back here now!!"
Opportunity Wales. Stephen Jones has the ball on the halfway line and there's plenty of men outside him. He opts for a cross-field kick to Stoddart out wide but the wing can't collect it. Chance gone.
And Powell is substituted. Interesting. Former skipper Ryan Jones replaces him. Don't know why. Maybe Gatland was unhappy with that penalty... oh hang on, the Wasps forward has ice on his shoulder. That will be it then.
A moment of silliness from Andy Powell. Powell kicks the ball out of a ruck as England look to move forward. Actually looking at that incident again, that penalty looked a tad harsh. Not about Powell's peroxide hair, mind. Flood
kicks the penalty, which is just what England needed after that Deacon yellow card.
32 mins: PENALTY Wales 6-13 England
This is more like it from Wales, the ball goes through the phases. Bradley Davies, Sam Warburton and Shane Williams all take the ball on as they edge closer and closer to the England line. The numbers are running out for the England defence and Louis Deacon goes over the top of a ruck to slap the ball out of the hands of Phillips. The Leicester man is sent to the sin bin. He can't say he wasn't warned. Stephen Jones
has the very simple task to kick the penalty from in front of the posts. Easy.
29 mins: PENALTY Wales 6-10 England 26 mins:
Deacon takes the ball into contact but loses it on the ground as there's some great work from Wales at the breakdown. Wales break out from deep and Phillips storms down the field before giving it wide to wing Morgan Stoddart. Foden is there, though, to put the Scarlets man into touch.
... and Wales do. They get a penalty just outside their own 22 as Haskell is all over a ruck. His feet are in and around the ball as Phillips tries to get the ball out, leaving referee Alain Rolland with no choice but to blow his whistle. The Irishman warns that the yellow card could be used soon. Stephen Jones finds his kicking boots and Wales get their first points.
22 minsPENALTY Wales 3-10 England 19 mins:
Hmmm, strange one this. Powell picks up from the base of a retreating scrum, is snared by England flanker Tom Wood and a penalty is given. We are all a bit stumped as to why really. England won't mind. Flood
kicks the three points and suddenly there's a 10-point gap. "Wales have to score next," says Moore.
19 mins: PENALTY Wales 0-10 England 14 mins: Wales 0-7 England
There is a gap as wide as the River Severn in the Wales defence and Flood takes full advantage to charge through the hole before passing to wing Chris Ashton
for the try. Simple really. Ashton does his traditional swallow dive as he crosses the line. "One day he'll drop one of those," says Moore. Flood adds the conversion.
14 mins: TRY Wales 0-7 England 13 mins:
Hartley finds Tom Palmer in that line-out and England maul their way down the field. The ball gets some air right and England have got numbers out wide but Tindall's pass is shocking and it goes straight into touch.
First line-out for England in their own 22, and Dylan Hartley finds his man. That will steady his nerves. And now there's a England scrum, and this time Wales prop Paul James is penalised for bringing it down. The visitors can clear their lines as the penalty touch gets England into the Wales 22.
Foden on a run as England make a rare foray into the Wales half. Great tackle from Shane Williams. Foden fails to release and Wales get another penalty.
Another penalty for Wales. England prop Andrew Sheridan comes in from the side at a ruck. "That's dumb," adds Moore. Stephen Jones has the kick from around 42m left of the post... but oh dear, that's not good. Wasn't even close.
Wales number eight Andy Powell on the charge, has Alun Wyn Jones outside him but he chooses to kick ahead. Foden can easily touch down. Danger over. That was a chance.
Hook with the penalty attempt from halfway... but he just pushes it wide.
Second scrum on the England put in... and Wales batter the England front row - pushing Hartley up. Penalty Wales. Have that. There's a bit of biff as well between the front rows. "It's all kicking off," says Moore. "I love it."
Bosh. And we have our first injury. Jones tries to tackle Foden but bounces off him and the Welsh fly-half looks decidedly groggy. He has the 'how many fingers am I holding up test' and is OK to carry on. First scrum... and England win the free-kick.
And we are off. Stephen Jones starts the 2011 Six Nations. Good take by Mike Tindall and England run it from their own 22. Enterprising.
And if you weren't moved by that... then I'm afraid there's something wrong with you.
Wow. Wales come out and the noise is incredible. Fireworks. Smoke. Lights. The works. With that reception I was half expecting Take That to come out of the tunnel. Anthem time.
Anon via text:
"On my way to Cardiff. Won't be watching the big game. Wales to sneak by a try.... "
John in Lewisham via text:
"Huge game for Johnson. If England finish outside of the top two would Johnson still be the man to lead them into the WC? Lose this evening and it's tough ask to take the spoils in Dublin."
Tindall leads out England. That reception was lukewarm to say the least. Here come Wales...
There's no sign that this match will be delayed. It looks as it we are set for the 1945 GMT start. The volume is starting to increase in Cardiff now. Can't wait to hear what it will be like when the teams walk out. Jiffy believes the scrum will be massive, if Wales don't get a foothold in that, he says, then the England pack will dominate. Not long now people, not long now.
BBC rugby pundit Jonathan Davies:
"Wales play an exciting brand of rugby but they are not clinical enough. They do not finish teams off."
Former England hooker and BBC rugby co-commentator Brian Moore:
"If Dylan is a competitor then he will be furious about those comments and will be determined to play well."
Wales coach Warren Gatland on rumours of him apologising to England hooker Dylan Hartley:
"It's the first I have heard of that. I'll have a think about it. He's a quality player, there's nothing with a bit of banter today. I see Ben Foden has had a crack today in his newspaper column - it all adds to the excitement."
There has been plenty of pre-match banter between the two camps leading up to this game. It's been as spiky as an episode of Jeremy Kyle. Wales coach Warren Gatland questioned the temperament of England hooker Dylan Hartley, with England manager Martin Johnson responding: "It was not particularly subtle and it wasn't unexpected." And today, England full-back Ben Foden told the
"This fixture has an extra edge because our rivalry with the Welsh runs deeply. In a way, we have to think: 'We are England, we are the big country, we are going to put these guys in their place.' It feels like we are the older brother and we have to make sure we beat our younger brother. We cannot let our younger brother get the better of us." Tasty, no?
Big match tonight for both sides but Wales desperately need a win as they have not had one in seven matches, their last victory coming against Italy in the last match of the 2010 Six Nations. England, meanwhile, have beaten Australia home and away in the last 12 months but were brought down to earth by South Africa in their last match. My predo? England. By three.
From Sarriesman, two pints down in Angel, London:
"Huge pressure on Gatland today, especially after all his mind-games. England boys need to deliver after promising performances. The message about concentrating on improving performances rather than results will only fly for so long. I predict England to win by five in a fiery, low-scoring encounter."
To England then. Manager Martin Johnson has had suffered injuries to his pack with captain Lewis Moody, lock Courtney Lawes and flanker Tom Croft all missing. Leicester's Louis Deacon and Stade Francais flanker James Haskell come in while there is a new cap - Northampton blind-side Tom Wood. I'm sure he will not forget today in a hurry. Mike Tindall skippers the side from midfield.England:
B Foden (Northampton Saints); C Ashton (Northampton Saints), M Tindall (Gloucester, capt), S Hape (Bath), M Cueto (Sale Sharks); T Flood (Leicester Tigers), B Youngs (Leicester Tigers); A Sheridan (Sale Sharks), D Hartley (Northampton Saints), D Cole (Leicester Tigers), L Deacon (Leicester Tigers), T Palmer (Stade Francais), T Wood (Northampton Saints), J Haskell (Stade Francais), N Easter (Harlequins). Replacements:
S Thompson (Leeds Carnegie), D Wilson (Bath), S Shaw (Wasps), J Worsley (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), J Wilkinson (Toulon), M Banahan (Bath).
Team news then, Wales have an injury list as long as a Yes album track. Props Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, centres Tom Shanklin and Andrew Bishop and wings George North and Leigh Halfpenny are all sidelined, while scrum-half Richie Rees is suspended. James Hook is preferred to Lee Byrne at full-back. It will be interesting to see how fly-half Stephen Jones fares tonight after coach Warren Gatland said there was a "long and hard" discussion about giving Hook the 10 shirt. Pressure? What pressure.Wales:
James Hook (Ospreys); Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Paul James (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Andy Powell (Wasps). Replacements:
R Hibbard (Ospreys), J Yapp (Blues), R Jones (Ospreys), J Thomas (Ospreys), D Peel (Sale), R Priestland (Scarlets), L Byrne (Ospreys).
TakeoWT on Twitter:
"Hold on, this is Wales playing in Cardiff - why are the English so confident? The Welsh aren't going to have their bellies tickled."
Atmosphere is word I have heard a lot this week and I reckon there might be a bit more of that tonight. On that point, Jonathan Davies says: "It will be a great occasion. At the start of that game, maybe it will be the best ever atmosphere at the Millennium Stadium." I had a chat with former England prop Jason Leonard last week about the MilStad and he told me: "As a stadium it is brilliant. The England-Wales games are special games. To hear Bread Of Heaven being sung round the ground is fantastic. It galvanises you for what is about to come. It's actually that loud, it's like a physical blow to a certain degree. When you run out it's like someone has just punched you. The noise is like a physical element, it's that loud. England's aim will be to go out and silence that crowd but to do so, they will have to play with poise, purpose, confidence, ambition but also with brains."
BBC Sport rugby pundit Jeremy Guscott:
"England have been an underperforming nation since that World Cup win in 2003. They have struggled. But there is now an influx of new young guys who have taken their club form into the international area."
MalcH on Twitter:
"Predos: Wal 17-25 Eng, Ita 21-18 Ire, Fra 17-20 Sco. Obviously I'm Scottish but like the Black-Eyed Peas, I've got a feeling... "
From Rich in Lambeth via text:
"Want so badly to be watching Wales v England tonight, but instead I'm patrolling the mean streets of south London. Might take a timely dinner break around 8pm! Honestly too close to call but I hope England nudge it!"
Anon via text:
"Wales to sneak it tonight. Every Welsh player picked from 1 to 22 has a huge point to prove individually."
I would be interested to know what you think of Friday night games? Considering the expectation I'm feeling at the moment and the buzz that has surrounded the match this week, I'm all for it. But is the Millennium Stadium the only Six Nations venue where a Friday night match would work?
The BBC rugby pundits sat down at the Six Nations launch last week to chew the fat ahead of this year's tournament. If you haven't watched it yet,
give it a view
- it's well worth it. With England having three games at home this year, Jeremy Guscott and Andy Nicol have both backed England for the title, Guscott saying: "If they beat Wales then it's Grand Slam time." Jonathan Davies is tipping Ireland as they have both France and England in Dublin. Thoughts?
Tim Cresner on Twitter:
"Tim & Tom watching in Hong Kong, coming up to 3am following build up from BBC, just back from Chinese New Year fireworks."
Craig via text:
I take Eng to win by 12 points tonight and go on to finish unbeaten and win the Grand Slam."
Simon in La Monde via text:
"First fantastic rendition of Delilah... atmosphere building... just about to make a move to the ground."
Steve Hobbs via text:
"Sitting in the South Bank bar, Nottingham (where I enjoyed the 2003 RWC final) waiting for my godson to arrive; the first international together in a pub. (Coming of age?) Have high expectations of England victory, especially after the day I've had."
Did anyone else wake up this morning and have butterflies in their stomach? I certainly did. And I don't think it was just down to the euphoria of last night's glorious victory in my local pub quiz. (We did lose our huge £48 winnings in a low-budget version of Play Your Cards Right, though. Bad times.) If it's nervy for us, can you imagine how the players have been feeling today? By the way, coverage from Cardiff begins on the Red Button, Online and BBC One Wales from 1900 GMT, with BBC One getting going at 1930 GMT. Kick-off: 1945 GMT.
Will Brooks on Twitter:
"Home sick from work, Eng vs Wales on the TV...and I'm actually upstairs in bed trying not to heave."
That isn't the only thing I'm going to ask you to do for me tonight. Your mission: to flood me with as many Grand Slam-winning messages as you can. Let me know where you are watching the game tonight, who you are watching it with, predictions for the match in Cardiff, the rest of the weekend and the tournament as a whole, team selections and which coaches you think are under pressure coming into this World Cup year. That should be enough to keep you going. You can you can tweet me via the hashtag
or direct on
or text in via 81111 (UK). Your country needs you.
Thank you very much Pran for the last couple of hours. Now people, if you could do me a favour and give this page a manual refresh, then this text commentary will be as it should be. I thank you.
So people, it's almost here - the start of the 2011 Six Nations. Oh it feels good writing that. Nervous? Thought so. Welcome one and all, hold on tight, it's going to be some ride.
Exceptionally large or intense.
Hmmm, Wales v England, in Cardiff, on a Friday night, in the opening game of the 2011 Six Nations? Yep, that sounds about right.
My time in the text commentator's chair has come to an end because
has just wolfed down the last dregs of his Chinese takeaway, signifying his readiness to guide you through this evening's events in the Welsh capital. Thanks for all your texts and tweets (twexts?), it's time to say hello to a rather dishy-looking chocolate bar on my desk. Happy Friday Six Nationing people...
From Another Anon, text 81111:
""Anon at 18.08, I'm correcting cos you're wrong. Wales last beat England in 2009 and didn't win the Grand Slam. "
The traffic situation is worsening on the M4, according to the Reports reach me that there is stop-start traffic for 25 miles on M4 westbound with estimated delays of 120 minutes across the second Severn Crossing and approaching the Newport Brynglas Tunnels. Not good at all.
From Anon, text 81111:
""Correct me if I'm wrong, last time Wales beat England they won the Grand Slam? Last time England won in Cardiff they won the World Cup the same year?"
calummcclurkin on Twitter:
"As a Scotland fan this is the most optimistic I have felt this century and with the WC this year Scotland can surprise many."
From Nic, Derbyshire, text 81111:
""Are Wales too hyped for this? Any sign of tears during Land Of My Fathers and they're bound to blow it. Really expecting this one to boil over, but have a feeling it won't be Hartley and co who blow up first."
Here's a priceless stat for Wales fans. The last two times Wales beat England in their opening Six Nations fixture, they went on to win the Grand Slam while England have not won a Six Nations match in Cardiff since 2003.
With the prospect of rain in Cardiff this evening, England manager Martin Johnson has agreed to opposite number Warren Gatland's request to close the Millennium Stadium roof this evening. However, of more pressing concern are the
high winds which have hit the M4,
with 15-mile queues stretching back to the Severn Bridge. The police could potentially delay kick-off if the disruption continues. More news when we have it...
Lolsworth on Twitter:
" I just started watching Jurassic Park (see 1523) when I loaded up the live chat. That kind of is genuinely terrifying to me."
Bigbadbuddah on Twitter:
"Love that Wales are talking themselves up. They have no chance England are quicker, stronger, more direct and innovative."
Both teams have been hampered by injuries to key players over the past couple of weeks. England are without captain and open-side flanker Lewis Moody, described as a "lunatic puppy dog" by former England World Cup winner Will Greenwood, the athletic second row Courtney Lawes and the alacrity of Tom Croft. Meanwhile, Wales are deprived of their first-choice props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, who would have given their opposite numbers Andrew Sheridan and Dan Cole one almighty ding-dong in the front row. However, Wales fans will be hoping Paul James and Craig Mitchell give England's gruesome twosome a muscular shove or five. For neutral observers, this evening's encounter will be an excellent opportunity to observe if there are any changes to the way the
set-piece is executed following a forum involving all Six Nations coaches and the International Rugby Board.
Here's a stat for you: 60% of all scrums collapse in top-level internationals and 40% of scrums have to be reset. Something is not quite right...
From Dai, Carmarthen, text 81111:
"I see you once again bring up Gatland's comments on Hartley but you don't mention
Ben Foden's comments in the Daily Mail today
?! I fear he will live to regret calling Wales 'England's little brother' that needs to be 'put in its place'. Dere mlan Cymru!"
Of the 15 head-to-head individual encounters on offer this evening in Cardiff, one of the most intriguing will be the
battle of the number nine shirt.
In the red corner we have the colossal Mike Phillips while in the white is the wily and industrious Ben Youngs. Meanwhile, fleet-footed Wales winger Shane Williams said he asked
"a couple of the boys chuck me around with judo throws"
just to make sure his shoulder was back at full strength for the Six Nations opener. Crikey. I hope ones of those was James Hook because I wouldn't want Jamie Roberts to sling me over his gigantic shoulder.
From Steve, Crosskeys, text 81111:
"Happy for Wales to be classed as the underdogs tonight by the media. We always raise our game when underestimated. Too much has been made of England's one win in the autumn. Tonight, St George will have his sword snapped by the Dragon! Come on Wales!"
Simon, Cambridge, text 81111:
I'll get the first prediction in - 24-18 to England...oh and about 98,527 pints and one glass of wine!"
Mr_Wynne on Twitter:
"Gutted, can't watch the match properly, I'm doing panto (Puss in Boots at Theatre Elli, Llanelli). Show me sympathy."
As first-evers go, Wales v England at the Millennium Stadium, which will close its roof for this evening's humdinger, is an absolute belter. England have not won in the Welsh capital in their previous three visits while Wales have not won a match since beating Italy in last year's Six Nations. And this week's build-up has been peppered by some typically robust pre-tournament polemics from
Wales coach Warren Gatland, never one to shirk from controversy, about England hooker Dylan Hartley.
New Zealander Gatland described the Northampton number two as a choker and questioned his temperament at the highest level. Cue sharp intake of breath...
We've got a couple of ways you can bang down the live text door with your thoughts, opinions and more curveball observations about this year's tournament via
Twitter, using the #BBCSixNations,
as well as by texting 81111 with the word SIX NATIONS
before your message.
A gentleman behind me is speculating the number of hops-based beverages that have been supped so far in the heart of Cardiff, the venue for the first ever Six Nations match ever to kick the tournament off on a Friday when
Wales play England at the Millennium Stadium.
I'm pushing the boat out and going for a five-figure number. Oh hang on, six-figure. If you are in among the throng in the Welsh capital, please do get in touch...
You know that scene in Jurassic Park? You know, when that glass of water ripples on the dashboard as the steps of the T-Rex get closer and closer with some seriously terrified people in a clapped-out car? Something like that just happened on my desk as two sets of 65 stone-plus front rows packed down for a series of practice scrums somewhere in the distance. It can only mean one thing - welcome to the first day of heart-stopping, bone-crunching action of the 2011 Six Nations.