Wales vs Ireland: Kick-off time, how to watch, team news, lineups
ales and Ireland kick off the Six Nations for 2023 with a key opening showdown in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Warren Gatland is back in charge of the home side and hoping to inspire a swift renaissance with the World Cup in France now only seven months away.
Wales won only three of 12 matches during a dismal final year under former head coach Wayne Pivac, losing to both Italy and Georgia on home soil in the process to lead to his sacking and the shock return of fellow Kiwi Gatland, whom some had linked with succeeding Eddie Jones as England boss.
Welsh rugby is badly in need of a lift amid turmoil behind the scenes, with allegations of sexism and misogyny at the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).
A clash with Ireland is a very tough start, though, with Andy Farrell’s side considered by many as slight favourites for glory this year ahead of defending Grand Slam champions France.
The Men in Green just missed out last time after a close defeat in Paris but otherwise had a fantastic 2022 to top the world rankings, beating Australia and South Africa in the autumn having over the summer made history as the first Irish team ever to win a series on New Zealand soil – no mean feat.
Wales vs Ireland date, kick-off time and venue
Wales vs Ireland is the first game of the 2023 Six Nations, taking place before England battle Scotland at Twickenham on opening day.
The match is due to begin at 2:15pm GMT on Saturday February 4, hosted by the atmospheric Principality Stadium in Cardiff, where the roof will be closed for the match.
How to watch Wales vs Ireland
TV channel: Wales vs Ireland is being broadcast live and free-to-air on BBC One, with coverage beginning at 1:15pm. Live coverage is also available on Welsh-language channel S4C from 1:30pm.
Live stream: Fans can also follow all the action as it happens live online via the BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer or S4C Clic.
Wales vs Ireland team news
Gatland’s first lineup back as Wales boss sees Six Nations debuts for Ospreys centre Joe Hawkins and Dragons wing Rio Dyer.
Liam Williams is in at full-back after a late back injury to Leigh Halfpenny, with Ken Owens captaining the side from hooker and the evergreen Alun Wyn Jones beginning an incredible 17th campaign.
For Ireland, Australian-born Connacht prop Finlay Bealham makes his first Six Nations start in the front row with usual tighthead Tadhg Furlong out with ankle and calf problems.
Influential skipper Johnny Sexton is crucially fit to start at fly-half after facial surgery and having ditched his mask in training, while Stuart McCloskey is preferred to Bundee Aki in midfield and James Lowe is back out wide.
Wales vs Ireland lineups
Wales XV: L Williams; Adams, North, Hawkins, Dyer; Biggar, T Williams; G Thomas, Owens (c), Francis, Beard, AW Jones, Morgan, Tipuric, Faletau.
Replacements: Baldwin, Carre, Lewis, Jenkins, Reffell, Webb, O Williams, Cuthbert.
Ireland XV: Keenan; Hansen, Ringrose, McCloskey, Lowe; Sexton (c), Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Bealham; Beirne, Ryan; O’Mahony, Van der Flier, Doris.
Replacements:Herring, Healy, O’Toole, Henderson, Conan, Murray, Byrne, Aki.
Wales vs Ireland head to head (h2h) history and results
Ireland have won five of their last six meetings against Wales, but it’s worth noting that they have not triumphed in Cardiff in a Six Nations match since 2013.
Wales won 21-16 on this ground in 2021 en route to lifting the trophy after Peter O’Mahony’s early red card, but were brushed aside 29-7 in the opening match in Dublin last year.
Wales wins: 70
Ireland wins: 56
Wales vs Ireland prediction
There is always an added edge and no shortage of extra needle when these two old rivals meet and Saturday’s curtain-raiser should prove no different.
Welsh rugby is certainly not in a good place at the moment despite some strong performances and results from the provinces in Europe and it will be hoped that the return of their most successful and longest-serving coach in Gatland can inspire a rejuvenation on the pitch with the World Cup fast approaching.
But despite the Principality not always being the happiest of hunting grounds for them, it’s very difficult to look past Ireland here.
They are absolutely flying under Farrell, with a narrow defeat in France the only blot on a terrific copybook in 2022. The series win over the All Blacks was historic and they proved their physical and mental fortitude once again during the autumn.
Ireland to win, by 14 points.
Wales vs Ireland odds
Wales to win: 21/10
Ireland to win: 4/9
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).