Six Nations stands to deliver – yet again – Japan Today

Six Nations stands to deliver - yet again - Japan Today

Wales v Ireland Live team announcements as coaches reveal sides for Six Nations finale

If Warren Gatlands side are looking for an omen this weekend in their quest for a Six Nations triumph against Ireland on Saturday and win a 12th Grand Slam, they can reflect on recent history.

These rare days in the Welsh capital on the final day of the tournament have generally proved an overwhelming success over the years.

A WRU spokesperson said: The WRU strongly advises all supporters to make sure they always “buy official”, only tickets bought from official sources (member clubs, official partners or the WRU direct) are guaranteed by the WRU – with tickets sold via unlicensed operators are often cancelled and entrance regularly and regretfully refused on void tickets. 

Most occasions have been magical moments of celebration with Wales triumphing in front of their home crowd and sparking wild scenes.

City-centre hotels are desperate to cash in on the success of the rugby team too with some charging ludicrous prices for a room on Saturday night The Hilton hotel is selling rooms for up to an eye-watering £624 for the evening of the Test, with most other places around the £350-400-per-night mark.

Warren Gatlands Wales reflect the image of its leader – stronger together

When Wales have needed to deliver on the final weekend with the Grand Slam at stake, they have tended to triumph.

Grand Slam winner from 1976 and 1987 JJ Williams is helping to organising the event, which will raise money for the WREX (Welsh Rugby International Former Players Association) charity and will induct several stars into the Welsh Hall of Fame.

There are always exceptions to the rule. In 1988 Wales had secured the Triple Crown but failed to win a tournament clean sweep on home soil when France defeated Bleddyn Bowens side 10-9.

That has been the glaring anomaly. BBC Sport Wales looks back at some of the memorable moments that have provided Grand Slam fever in Cardiff as Gatland attempts to become the first coach to win three tournament clean sweeps.

Matches between Wales and Ireland in recent years have been known for their relentless ferocity, but this will be a mental challenge for Gatland and his men. It will be the fifth match this season involving the top four in the world rankings. Three of the other four have been won by the underdogs who brewed a gameplan that left their opponents unable to respond (the exception was New Zealands narrow victory at Twickenham which would very probably have turned out differently had Sam Underhills late try been allowed).

Wales survived Frances best display of the tournament to secure a third Grand Slam in eight years in a pulsating encounter.

It will be an emotional day for Gatland, and not just because it will be his last competitive match in charge in Cardiff. His Six Nations career started with Ireland and his sacking by them in 2001 is the one stain on his record. He will be succeeded at the end of the year by another New Zealander, the Scarlets Wayne Pivac. He is an outstanding coach, but he will need Gatlands ability to squeeze every last drop out of his charges if Wales are to continue to confound.

Gatlands side were equal to the challenge and held their nerve under the pressure of great Welsh expectations. A dynamic defensive effort was typified by flanker Dan Lydiate being named man-of-the-tournament.

Read more Against England, Waless discipline was such that not one of the three penalties they gave away resulted in their having to defend a lineout close to their line. Last Saturday in Scotland, they were frequently penalised and if they repeat that against Ireland their chances of victory will be diminished. They are a team which kicks to keep the ball alive but will Ireland do what England failed to and kick for touch to put Wales under pressure on their throw?

A minutes silence before kick-off paid tribute to former Wales and Lions number eight Mervyn Davies, who died two days before the game.

Gatland has insulated his players from regional rumpuses by creating an oasis at the squads training base in the Vale of Glamorgan where players can leave their problems behind. He has remained loyal to his coaches in his 12 years in charge, and while Shaun Edwards is revered for the work he has done in helping mould attitude and desire, others such as Rob Howley has been reviled at times because creativity has not been a priority.

Davies had captained Wales for their 1976 Grand Slam and Wales said his achievements had given them extra motivation with a try from wing Alex Cuthbert and 11 points from Leigh Halfpennys boot sealing victory.

You look at guys like Conor Murray, Sexton, Ringrose, OMahoney, guys that werent in great form at the start of the tournament are now starting to come to the fore. I am sure the crowd will help Wales overcome that tiredness but its going to be a great game.

It capped a wonderful season where Wales had finished fourth in the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand before this Six Nations clean sweep.

Highlights included a George North inspired win in Dublin, followed by a man-of-the-match performance by Sam Warburton at Twickenham, where super-sub Scott Williams scored the match-winning try.

But as he prepares for the Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland at Twickenham later on the same afternoon, Jones has suggested that Wales are weary and vulnerable against the reviving Irish. 

In Gatlands first season in charge, Wales completed their transformation from World Cup flops to secure their second Grand Slam in four years and send the nation into raptures.

Eddie Jones has attempted to ramp up the pressure on Wales as they prepare to play for a Grand Slam in Cardiff – by suggesting that they are running out of steam at the crucial time.

In the Cardiff finale, an early 9-3 Wales lead was whittled away by France after Gavin Hensons sin-binning on the stroke of half-time.

If the flanker Rhys Ruddock is named today in the Ireland squad to play against Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, his father, Mike, will be supporting Ireland. If not, which is the much more likely scenario, Ruddock Sr will be cheering on Wales, even though his eldest son Ciaran will be at the game as one of the Ireland teams strength and conditioning coaches.

But Shane Williams secured the crucial try on 60 minutes after pouncing on a loose ball, becoming Wales all-time top try scorer in the process. Flanker Martyn Williams added a second try late on to provoke the celebrations.

To say that Wales versus Ireland matches cause a little complication in the Ruddock household would be an understatement. For we are talking here of the Mike Ruddock who, in 2005, coached Wales to a grand slam, their first for 27 years and one secured with victory over Ireland on a joyous day in Cardiff.

Shane Williams was the man of the tournament with his dazzling tries which included a Triple Crown winning score against Ireland, while namesake Martyn was brought out of retirement to help inspire the side.

This Grand Slam came just six months after Wales had been dumped out of the World Cup by Fiji in Nantes which resulted in the sacking of Gareth Jenkins and prompted Gatlands appointment.

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Perhaps the most euphoric day out of the lot as Wales celebrated their first Grand Slam since 1978 with an historic victory on a carnival Cardiff afternoon.

In the scorching sunshine, a big screen was installed in the centre of Cardiff as thousands lined the street. They were climbing trees to try and gain a glimpse while supermarkets ran out of alcohol.

The fans lucky enough to be inside the Millennium Stadium witnessed Mike Ruddocks side hold their nerve to beat Ireland at home for the first time since 1983 and clinch the Six Nations.

“But in 2005 it was a bit of a surprise that Wales came through. We had the makings of a good team, but I think the fact that we were defending better and were a bit more solid at the set-piece gave us the chance of living with a couple of the bigger sides like England and Ireland.”

Slam-chasers Wales unchanged for Ireland clash

A first-half try from Gethin Jenkins helped Wales to a 16-6 interval lead with the prop charging down a Ronan OGara kick and deftly dribbling the ball over the line before triumphantly flopping on it.

He brought Gavin Henson into the team and the controversial, but undeniably talented, centre kicked his team to what Ruddock wryly describes as an 11-9 hammering of world champions England. That got the ball rolling and by the time they met Ireland they were nigh on unstoppable.

Kevin Morgans iconic try and 16 points from Stephen Jones sealed the victory to complete a remarkable transformation in fortunes.

Two years earlier, Wales failed to win a match in the tournament, but under Ruddock they flourished by reverting to the adventurous style of old. Ruddocks son Rhys now plays for Ireland.

But the Saracens star has been named in an unchanged team by head coach Warren Gatland, as unbeaten Wales chase a first Six Nations title since 2013 and first Grand Slam for seven years.

Wales powered again on wave of giddy confidence

Both teams were going for the Grand Slam with Wales having secured a third successive Triple Crown at Lansdowne Road two weeks before.

Full-back Williams went off during the 18-11 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend, after suffering a stinger to his shoulder area.

The iconic Grand Slam film, starring Windsor Davies, was aired for the first time on BBC the night before the game. A sure sign of impending success.

Moriarty determined Wales wont slip up in Slam finale

Fly-half Phil Bennett had pulled out on the Wednesday with foot trouble, but was persuaded to change his mind. It was just as well, as the Wales captain scored two tries in a 16-7 Slam-sealing victory.

It proved to be Bennetts last Five Nations match alongside his legendary half-back partner Sir Gareth Edwards who bowed out in style with a drop-goal.

Once again, with a Triple Crown under their belt, Wales looked to have built up a winning 19-9 lead against France with a try from JJ Williams and penalties from Phil Bennett, Steve Fenwick and Allan Martin.

France battled back though and Wales were later indebted to a famous late try-saving tackle from full-back JPR Williams.

The decisive moment came in the final minutes as powerful wing Jean-Francois Gourdon charged down the right wing with only JPR between him and the line.

The fearsome full-back shoulder charged Gourdon into touch and stood with his fists raised as the crowd erupted and Wales sealed their Grand Slam.

Today the “tackle” would be considered an illegal challenge, a penalty try and yellow card. In 1976 it was a championship-winning intervention.

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