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Gatland gunning for revenge

Carl Hicks Carl Hicks | 18:37 UK time, Thursday, 6 March 2008

The highlight of weekend four of the RBS Six Nations looks set to be Wales' attempt to land the Triple Crown with victory over Ireland on their visit to Croke Park.

This match has a couple of fascinating sub-plots with Warren Gatland taking his unbeaten Welsh side to play against an Ireland side coached by Eddie O'Sullivan, his former assistant, who replaced the Kiwi as the Irish coach back in 2001 amid accusations of disloyalty and plotting.

The canny Gatland has played down any revenge motive in the media this week, but you can bet he will be using it as a motivational tool for his men before they enter the unique amosphere created at the new Irish rugby home.

Another top sideshow to watch will be the contest in the centre between the Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll and the rejuvenated Welsh golden boy Gavin Henson. O'Driscoll didn't take kindly to criticism of his robust style when Henson wrote his book after the Welsh Grand Slam of 2005 and you can be sure they'll be keeping more than half an eye on each other during the opening exchanges.

James Hook and Gavin Henson during a training session at the Millennium Stadium

Ireland v Wales (KO 1.15pm) is the first match of a huge weekend for BBC Sport with three Six Nations matches, three live FA Cup quarter-finals as well as the return of Moto GP and extensive coverage on BBCi of the World Indoor Athletics Championships.

As a consequence of such a busy weekend we have less time before the action to preview all the Six Nations games. This is by contrast with a fortnight ago when we had a long build-up before the three matches on that marathon Saturday for rugby fans.

On my last blog there were a couple of complaints of bias about the fact that the whole build-up from 2pm was not devoted to the Wales v Italy match. I'm not going to apologise on that one (and I'm not saying sorry for too much sport either).

The fact is that the time before Wales v Italy was the only build-up time for all THREE matches on a crowded day of live action once it started. We did features on England and Ireland, an analysis piece on the French back three, a Sport Relief item and chat around Frank Haddon's problems with Scotland - all in the first half hour.

After that there was a full half-hour's build-up from Cardiff featuring a long interview with the new Gatland/ Shaun Edwards coaching axis and interviews with a trio of Welsh boxing world champions as well as hearing the views of Jonathan Davies and Colin Charvis.

A footnote to this debate is that next week John Inverdale will host the final weekend of the Championship from Cardiff - as whatever happens this weekend the destiny of the title cannot be decided before the final match between Wales and France.

The build-up to Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash between Scotland and England has been enlivened in the last 24 hours by the news that Danny Cipriani has been dropped by Brian Ashton after being spotted leaving a nightclub.

This story - and all its ramifications - has rightly overshadowed a small but significant announcement by the International Rugby Board (IRB) this week. They have confirmed that the 2005 match played by the Lions v Argentina at Cardiff HAS now been granted Test match status. The significance is that Jonny Wilkinson scored 20 points for the Lions in the 25-25 draw. Those points added to JW's 1070 for England and Lions now mean he is level with Neil Jenkins world record of 1090 and looks sure to break it on Saturday.

A record for the BBC this weekend will be that the Calcutta Cup match will become the first ever sporting event to be broadcast in 3D by satellite. The experiment will see three stereoscopic cameras (with two HD lenses that apparently means) used to produce alternative match coverage. This will be directed by Rhys Edwards from BBC Wales and the 3D OB has been supplied by BBC Resources in partnership with a company called The3DFirm. The results will be broadcast at a special live viewing in London for the media and some technology experts.

Whether it's in SD (standard definition), HD or 3D we should have another cracking weekend of international rugby for you.

Don't forget the highlights of all the games will also be available online as well as full replays of Scotland v England and Ireland v Wales on BBC TWO in the early hours on Sunday - and the chance to watch all three games for up to seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

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