Rugby U


The six nations is back! I'm here to take you through Wales against Scotland - an intriguing fixture to get the tournament's 2018 version off to a strong start.

Every game's a big one when the tournament's only five matches long, and this one has the feel of a crunch match right from the beginning. If Scotland are to live up to their growing reputation and challenge for the title, they need to make a statement here by winning for the first time since 2002. If Wales lose, it could be a very long tournament for them.

Scotland have some bad memories playing in Cardiff this decade, with a 48-point hammering four years ago after Hogg was sent off in the first half. And then, of course, there's this disaster/glorious victory. (Delete according to your allegiances)

Both teams have been ravaged by injury, with Wales missing a number of Lions including Lions captain Warburton, player of the series Jonathan Davies, and massive wing George North. Scotland, meanwhile, have eight front row players out with injury. EIGHT.

Gatland has selected TEN Scarlets players in his starting lineup, and it's no secret that Wales are looking to emulate the regional team's style of play. Winger Josh Adams makes his debut, and Cory Hill starts his first six nations match. Bonus point for anyone who can tell me the last time Jamie Roberts wasn't in a six nations matchday squad...

Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (captain), Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty. Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, Watkin.

For Scotland, McGuigan retains his place after a fantastic debut against Australia in the Autumn, while Laidlaw takes his place on the bench after an injury absence.

Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Harris, H Jones, McGuigan; Russell, Price; Reid, McInally, Welsh, Toolis, Gray, Barclay (captain), Watson, du Preez. Replacements: Lawson, Bhatti, McCallum, Gilchrist, Wilson, Laidlaw, Horne, Maitland.

Here come the teams, accompanied by some over the top pyrotechnics. The Millennium Stadium is buzzing, as only it can. Nothing like a six nations matchday in Cardiff. Anthems now, Flower of Scotland first up. The only anthem (as far as I know), featuring an a capella section. When they play in Scotland, anyway.

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is as rousing as ever. The six nations has to be almost unrivalled for its passion and excitement Time (at long last) for kick off! Pascal Gauzere is the man with the whistle.