Saturday, February 6, 2010


Wales v England at Twickenham (6 Nations)

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)

Venue: Twickenham

Very few nations gather themselves more for a sporting clash than when Wales take on the English at rugby union. It's all to do with history. The Welsh trek to Twickenham is nothing short of a holy pilgrimage. Thousands of Welshmen will descend on London today, many without tickets. No matter. It's all part of the experience just to be there when England fall before the mighty Welsh dragon.

And will England fall? They have become a very predictable outfit. All forces to the front, grind the opposition forwards into the ground and then feed off the mistakes, score points. Very much an old All Black formula. They now have a better than even chance of achieving that against Wales now that Lion Gethin Jenkins has withdrawn. So they will probably master the Welsh pack. Can they turn this good work into points? The grand master Jonny Wilkinson could weave wonders and place the ball where he wants it. I'm not convinced the men outside him can score tries.

Wales has slipped since their 2008 Grand Slam year. Without a solid front row against England they will struggle. They could well have the edge in the backline. I'd expect Wales to throw the ball wide, inside, outside, anywhere, away from those English forwards and into a surer hand in the backs. Welsh backline flare against English grunt up front.


Twickenham celebrates its 100th birthday of international rugby this Saturday. Image thanks to wikipaedia

Last Five Encounters
14.02.2009 Wales 23-15 in Cardiff (6 Nations)
02.02.2008 Wales 26-19 at Twickenham (6 Nations)
04.08.2007 England 62-5 at Twickenham (World Cup Warm up)
17.03.2007 Wales 27-18 in Cardiff (6 Nations)
04.02.2006 England 47-13 at Twickenham (6 Nations)

GWC Rugby Rankings
World Table-England 8th, Wales 9th
Europe Table-England 2nd, Wales 4th

Prediction: England to just squeeze past the Welsh, to win by 7 points.



15 Delon Armitage
14 Mark Cueto
13 Mathew Tait
12 Riki Flutey
11 Ugo Monye
10 Jonny Wilkinson
9 Daniel Care
8 Nicholas Easter
7 Lewis Moody
6 James Haskell
5 Steven Borthwick, Capt.
4 Simon Shaw
3 David Wilson
2 Dylan Hartley
1 Timothy Payne
16 Steven Thompson
17 Daniel Cole
18 Louis Deacon
19 Steffon Armitage
20 Paul Hodgson
21 Tobias Flood
22 Benjamin Foden
Head Coach: Martin Johnson

There are a couple of grand old men of English rugby in this team. At 36 years old Simon Shaw is the oldest player in the tournament today. 34 year old Nicholas Easter is not far behind.
Jonny Wilkinson has most test caps at 73. His 1058 points is still the most for any player of any country. His nearest rival is playing for Ireland. Ronan O'Gara has 929. Wilkinsons' closest rival is actually Dan Carter, New Zealand, on 994. Carter won't be playing test rugby again until June.
If Dan Cole plays, he will be making his test debut.
England first played a test match at Twickenham exactly 100 years ago, against Wales.


15 Lee Byrne
14 Thomas James
13 James Hook
12 James Roberts
11 Shane Williams
10 Stephen Jones
9 Gareth Cooper
8 Ryan Jones, Capt.
7 Martyn Williams
6 Andrew Powell
5 Luke Charteris
4 Alun-Wyn Jones
3 Adam Jones
2 Gareth Williams
1 Paul James
16 Huw Bennett
17 Rhys Gill
18 Bradley Davies
19 Jonathan Thomas
20 Richard Rees
21 Andrew Bishop
22 Leigh Halfpenny
Head Coach: Warren Gatland

Wales has its share of oldies. Martyn Williams is now aged 34, whilst Shane Williams and Stephen Jones are 32.
Whilst not in Ireand's league of players in their nineties for test caps, Wales does have Martyn Williams playing his 92nd test and Stephen Jones his 84th.
If they play, bench sitters Richard Rees and Rhys Gill will make their test debuts.

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