Six Nations rugby 2019: fixtures, team news and where to get your tickets
With a little over a week to go until the Six Nations Championship kicks-off in front of 80,000 anxious fans at the Stade de France, we’re previewing what is set to be a sensational 7 weeks of rugby.
Six Nations Championship dates
The Championship consists of 5 rounds of games, with each team going up against each other just once. February 1st, the opening game takes place beneath the Friday night lights as in-form Wales - coming off the back of a 9 game winning streak - visit Paris to tackle an exciting French team.
The final - and perhaps decisive - round of games on March 16th closes with what promises to be an epic clash at Twickenham between fierce rivals England and Scotland. The seven weeks in between, we can expect some mouth-watering clashes and no doubt, a few eyebrow-raising upsets.
Who are the favourites?
Reigning champions Ireland - boosted by the news that fly-half Johnny Sexton is expected to be fit following his knee injury - are bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era. They begin their defense against one of the tournaments other big favourites England, who likewise have been lifted by news of a returning Owen Farrell.
In what is also a rugby World Cup year, many will see this as a fiercely contested ‘dress rehearsal’ and opportunity to build momentum in the run up to September. If such momentum is to play a role in who lifts the first major trophy of 2019, look no further than Warren Gatland’s Wales team who are coming into the Six Nations in scintillating form, for what is Gatland’s last Championship in charge of his adopted country. The long-serving New Zealand native will no doubt want to finish on a high and a win here will cap what has been the Welsh side’s most successful period since the 70s.
Another coach also leaving his role at the end of the year is Ireland’s Joe Schmidt, which means a fascinating winner-takes-all finale could be on the cards. In what many fans consider to be the most evenly matched Six Nations in memory, it’s hard to call which team will have the bragging rights come March 16th.
What are the key games?
Few will argue that the biggest game of Round 1 is the early match up of two tournament favourites Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on February 2nd.
Wary of being tagged as potential winners before a ball has been kicked, Ireland captain Rory Best is keen to stamp out any complacency amongst teammates, while head coach Joe Schmidt points out England’s size advantage as being one potential factor in a monumental clash that could see one team’s hopes of a Grand Slam crushed in the opening round.
Elsewhere, many fans will be itching to see which France team shows up against the likes of neighbours Italy - whose captain Sergio Parisse has played the most Championship games of any player - and ever-improving Scotland, who may benefit from the confidence brought by recent performance at club level - these two meet in Round 1.
There’s no doubt that there’s talent in the France squad, but many will doubt their ability to bring the back-to-back consistency needed to truly challenge for the trophy. In Rome, on February 24th there’s one Irishman who will be looking to cause more than a major upset, as former Ireland player Conor O’shea’s Italy will be looking to put a cat amongst the pigeons with an unlikely result against his fellow countrymen at the Stadio Olimpico.
The complete Championship schedule is:
Fri 01 Feb - 20:00 GMT
Sat 02 Feb - 14:15 GMT
Sat 02 Feb - 16:45 GMT
Sat 09 Feb - 14:15 GMT
Sat 09 Feb - 16:45 GMT
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Sun 10 Feb - 15:00 GMT
Sat 23 Feb - 14:15 GMT
Stade de France, Paris
Sat 23 Feb - 16:45 GMT
Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Sun 24 Feb - 15:00 GMT
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Sat 09 Mar - 14:15 GMT
Sat 09 Mar - 16:45 GMT
Sun 10 Mar - 15:00 GMT
Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Sat 16 Mar - 12:30 GMT
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Sat 16 Mar - 14:45 GMT
Pricipality Stadium, Cardiff
Sat 16 Mar - 17:00 GMT
How to get Six Nations tickets
The Six Nations Championship is the one tournament outside of the World Cup that brings both hardcore fanatics and armchair fans out in their droves, as six of Europe’s strongest squads go head-to-head. Rarely does a seat go unoccupied, as the stadiums - and the pubs - fill up with patriotic, flag-waving fans throughout a month-long festival of rugby union.
While many games - especially the key games we have highlighted - will be sold out well in advance of kick-off, some fans will have a change of heart or tickets to spare and will be selling them on StubHub.
Which channel is showing Six Nations games?
For those who miss out on tickets or can’t make it to a game in person, ITV and BBC will share coverage for every game of the Championship.
The BBC will be kicking off the proceedings between France and Wales, while ITV will be showing the final - and perhaps decisive - clash of the Championship as England host Scotland.