Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 4 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 1930 (BBC Wales and Red Button from 1900); listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Wales; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles
Ref: Alain Rolland (Ireland) AR1: Alan Lewis (Ireland)
AR2: Simon McDowell (Ireland) TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Citing Commissioner: Jean-Etienne Bernard (France)
Look out for…
Stephen Jones,S the Scarlets star joined the ‘100 Cap’ club in the Autumn for Wales and the British & Irish Lions and is currently one behind Martyn Williams (102) as the most capped Welsh player of all-time across the two teams. His target over the RBS 6 Nations this season is to become the fi rst Welsh player to make 50 appearances in the Six Nations (46 currently) and to join Gareth Thomas on 100 caps for his country (95 currently). He is also in the race with Ronan O’Gara (982) to reach 1,000 Test points (912 currently).
This season’s oldest campaigners are London Wasps lock Simon Shaw and Munster prop John Hayes. Both are now 37, with Shaw being one month younger than the Irish front row legend. Shaw and Hayes are also vying for the prize of the heaviest player in the 2011 tournament. Weighing in at 123 kgs, Shaw is England’s heavyweight along with prop Andrew Sheridan, while Hayes is currently tipping the scales at 125 kgs to top the lot. Shaw is also the tallest member of the England squad, measuring 2.03 m / 6’ 8”, and joins Italy’s Quintin Geldenhuys and the Scottish second row duo of Alastair Kellock and Richie Gray as this year’s lighthouses. At the other end of the scale, Irish scrum half Peter Stringer, Wales wing Shane Williams and Italian outside half Luciano Orquera are the shortest at 1.70 m / 5’ 7”.
Wales has provided the setting for four players to move to the top of the world points scoring tables and if Jonny Wilkinson can squeeze enough time off the England replacements bench at the Millennium Stadium in Round 1 he may be able to recapture his former record. The English No 10 overtook Neil Jenkins on 8 March, 2008, at Murrayfield when he scored all nine points in a 15-9 defeat against Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations to move to 1,099 Test points He had previously equalled Jenkins’ 1,090 tally for Wales and the British & Irish Lions in the victory in France two weeks earlier, but then lost his crown to New Zealand’s Dan Carter on 27 November, 2010, when he scored 12 points at the Millennium Stadium to help the All Blacks beat Wales 37-25. The first world record breaker on Welsh soil was Scottish forward James. Boswell, who scored a try and a conversion in his side’s 1892 triumph over Wales at St Helen’s, Swansea. That took the record up to 16 points and he eventually ended with 26 in 17 games. Wales’ own Billy Bancroft was next to raise the bar in Wales when he kicked four conversions in the home side’s 26-3 victory over England in Swansea. That took the mark to 39 points and Bancroft raised it to 60 points before retiring. He eventually lost the record to younger brother Jack some 13 years later and between them the Bancrofts’ held the world points record for 29 years. Wilkinson became the first English player to hold the record since Fred Byrne. He scored 36 points for England and the Lions and held the record between 1897-99. While Wilkinson chases the world record, Ireland’s Ronan O’Gara will be hoping to pick up the 18 points he needs to become only the fifth player to reach 1,000 points. He is currently on 982, while Welsh outside half Stephen Jones has amassed 912 in his 101 tests to date.
Wales will be hoping to make it third time lucky in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations opener against England. It will be the third Friday night fixture in the Championship and Wales have lost in the two previous games – 21-16 to France in Paris in 2009 and 26-20 to the French again at the Millennium Stadium last year.