Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency

Back on the road: Fans travel to see Wales take on Ireland

Wayne Pivac’s men will face a tough side in Dublin Six Nations opener

WALES travel to Dublin to take on Ireland in their opening Six Nations game tomorrow (Saturday).

Wayne Pivac’s side will face a tough test after Ireland’s impressive autumn campaign which included a win over New Zealand.

Things aren’t made easier for Wales as experienced veterans such as Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and George North are out due to injury.

But Pivac has still named a team boasting years of experience, including new captain Dan Biggar. The Northampton fly-half will captain his country for the first time and win his 96th cap at the Aviva Stadium.

Fans know that Wales need to be at their best to beat this in-form Ireland team.

“It will be a competitive game and Wales will need to play their best rugby to edge it,” said Ifan Roberts, 22, from Cathays.

“It’s a very hard away game and with Ireland playing rugby to a high quality. I think they’ll be the team to beat this year.”

Key players


Louis Rees-Zammit: The rapid winger turned 21 on Wednesday and will be looking to celebrate this weekend with a win. Despite being a young player and having only played in his first Six Nations last year, his impressive four tries in five games earned him a place in the Lions squad.

He’s now a well-known name in world rugby and will look to continue to impress for Wales this weekend. His speed will be important to Wales’ counter-attack and his kicking in one-on-one situations have ended in many tries for both Gloucester and Wales.

Wyn Jones. Image: @WelshRugbyUnion

Wyn Jones: Despite a disappointing autumn series, Wales’ number one will look to bounce back this Six Nations. He will be key to getting the ball to the back of the scrum, especially against Tadgh Furlong. The scrum will be key for Wales against Ireland and a crucial aspect to their threat from set pieces.

Adam Beard: Beard arguably has the biggest boots to fill as he replaces an injured Alun Wyn Jones but his experience will be key as he is most likely to organise the Welsh line-out, the weakest of Wales’ set pieces. It will be a difficult task for him against Ireland’s front rowers but one he will relish and be well prepared for.


Caelan Doris: The versatile back rower has been an invaluable member of the Leinster squad, who have been high-fliers in Europe this season. He scored two tries in Ireland’s autumn series, including against New Zealand. Wales will need to keep a close eye on him if they are to avoid defeat.

Hugo Keenan: Keenan was unlucky not to be included in the Lions squad in the summer despite being Ireland’s best player last Six Nations. The full back is a determined member of this Ireland squad and will look to win his aerial battles and gain territory.

Tadgh Beirne. Image: @IrishRugby

Tadgh Beirne: At 6ft 6in and 113kg Tadgh Beirne is quite literally the standout player of the Ireland squad. Having played over 50 games for the Scarlets, Beirne knows Welsh rugby well and will know how to disrupt Wales’ play.

He’s an experienced operator of the lineout and will look to get an Irish maul going to gain territory for his side and win penalties in key areas.

A tough test

Nothing less than a five-star performance will ensure victory for Wales in Dublin, and fans know that Wales face a difficult start to this year’s championship.

“Ireland always come out of the traps fast and gain an early lead,” said 50-year-old Jason Coyle.

“The first match is always tricky for Wales because they’re notoriously slow starters. To play Ireland in Dublin represents a tough game.”

Wales haven’t won in their last five visits to the Aviva Stadium- their last win there came in the form of a 16-10 win in a 2015 World Cup warm up match.

Wales fans will have their fingers crossed tomorrow in the hopes that this record can be overturned.

  • Fans can watch Wales take on Ireland on ITV and S4C. Kick off is at 2.15pm.