Wales left it until Friday to announce their starting XV for this Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations 2012 opener against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
The Welsh management had been waiting for good news on the injury status of a number of key players, and were delighted to be able to name Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts in the starting XV after both players overcame knee injuries just in time.
Wales named a starting team which featured six changes from their last competitive fixture – the 3rd, 4th place playoff against Australia at Rugby World Cup 2011. All but five of Saturdays team were present in their World Cup Quarter-Final victory over Ireland.
Loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins was unable to recover from his knee injury – he is to be replaced by Saracens loosehead, Rhys Gill.
Winger Alex Cuthbert will make his first start for Wales after the retirement of Shane Williams on the right wing.
Wales coach Warren Gatland said of the selection, and the match with Ireland:
“We have been able to retain continuity in some key areas, we have been working hard and we feel we are approaching this match with the right attitude and with some good preparation work done,”
“We are two sides who know each other well, Ireland will not have enjoyed losing to us in New Zealand, they will want to redress the balance in Dublin this weekend, but they will find us in just as determined mood.”
Wales will be captained by flanker Sam Warburton of the Cardiff Blues.
Wales Starting XV v Ireland – RBS 6 Nations 2012
15 Leigh HALFPENNY (CARDIFF BLUES)
14 Alex CUTHBERT (CARDIFF BLUES)
13 Jonathan DAVIES (SCARLETS)
12 Jamie ROBERTS (CARDIFF BLUES)
11 George NORTH (SCARLETS)
10 Rhys PRIESTLAND (SCARLETS)
9 Mike PHILLIPS (BAYONNE)
1 Rhys GILL (SARACENS)
2 Huw BENNETT (OSPREYS)
3 Adam JONES (OSPREYS)
4 Bradley DAVIES (CARDIFF BLUES)
5 Ian EVANS (OSPREYS)
6 Ryan JONES (OSPREYS)
7 Sam WARBURTON (CARDIFF BLUES, CAPTAIN)
8 Toby FALETAU (NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS)
16 Ken OWENS (SCARLETS)
17 Paul JAMES (OSPREYS)
18 Andy POWELL (SALE SHARKS)
19 Justin TIPURIC (OSPREYS)
20 Lloyd WILLIAMS (CARDIFF BLUES)
21 James HOOK (PERPIGNAN)
22 Scott WILLIAMS (SCARLETS)
Ireland v Wales will kick-off at 15:00 GMT (16:00 CET) on Sunday 5th February 2012, at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland.
Aviva Stadium is a sports stadium located in Dublin, Ireland, with a capacity for 51,700 spectators. It is built on the site of the former Lansdowne Road Stadium, which was demolished in 2007, and replacing it as home to its chief tenants: the Irish rugby union team and the Republic of Ireland football team.
Unlike its predecessor, which was solely owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), the current stadium is controlled by the IRFU and the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) through a 50:50 joint venture known as the Lansdowne Road Stadium Development Company (LRSDC). The joint venture has a 60-year lease on the stadium; on expiry the stadium will return to the exclusive ownership of the IRFU.
The 2011 UEFA Europa League Final between Portuguese sides Porto and Braga took place in the Aviva Stadium. Due to UEFA rules against corporate sponsorship outside the federation, the stadium was referred to as the “Dublin Arena” for this final.
Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George’s Channel.
Geopolitically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. As of 2016, 4.8 million people live in the Republic of Ireland, and 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.
The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus very moderate, and winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant.
A strong Irish culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language. The island’s culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.