Wayne Pivac’s era begins at 2.15 tomorrow as Wales host Italy.
The Six Nations kicks off this weekend in Cardiff with the visit of Italy to Wales. Grand Slam holders Wales will be playing their first competitive game without manager Warren Gatland since 2007.
Wales enter the championship on good form. However, this is new coach Wayne Pivac’s first competitive game in charge, and nobody knows what to expect. Pivac has named a similar squad to that of Gatland, with only five new players making the final cut. Fans who are aware of Pivac’s time with the Llanelli Scarlets will be expecting more expansive rugby than under Gatland’s tenure. Wales have seen success under Gatland’s defensive style, and may take time to warm to Pivac and his team.
George North is set to start in the centre next to Scarlet’s Hadleigh Parks. This will only be North’s fifth start in the centre in what will be his 92nd international game. New Zealand born Johnny McNicholl takes North’s usual spot on the wing.
After the Wales game Ireland will host Scotland at 16.45 and then England visit France at 15.00. Scotland will be without star fly-half Finn Russell who was send home from their training camp earlier in the week.
The competition is set to be one of the most open in years. England will be feeling confident for their visit to France having made the World Cup final last year. France are also beginning a new era playing their first game under new manager Fabien Galthié.
Full fixtures for the tournament are below:
February 1st: Wales vs Italy Ireland vs Scotland February 2nd: France vs England February 8th: Ireland vs Wales Scotland vs England February 9th: France vs Italy February 22nd: Italy vs Scotland Wales vs France February 23rd: England vs Ireland March 7th: Ireland vs Italy England vs Wales March 8th: Scotland vs France March 14: Wales vs Scotland Italy vs England France vs Ireland