Six Nations: Wales v Ireland preview, team news, permutations and key stats

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and Wales counterpart Warren Gatland
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt (left) and his Welsh counterpart Warren Gatland will take charge of their last Six Nations match on Saturday
Six Nations: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Principality Stadium Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, Connected TVs, online and BBC Sport app from 14:00 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Radio Ulster; text commentary on BBC Sport website.

Team news

Unbeaten Wales have named an unchanged starting XV as they seek to secure the Six Nations title and Grand Slam glory in Cardiff on Saturday.

Full-back Liam Williams has recovered from the shoulder injury that forced him off against Scotland last weekend.

Ireland, who will retain their title if they win and Scotland beat England later, have made three changes.

Lock Tadhg Beirne will make his Six Nations debut, while Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien both return.

What's at stake?

Wales' Warren Gatland is aiming to become the first man in history to coach a side to three Five/Six Nations Grand Slams in what will be his 50th and final match in the tournament before leaving his post after the World Cup later this year.

Victory over Ireland would emulate his achievements in 2008 and 2012 and would also give Wales a first championship title since 2013.

Since losing against Ireland last February, Wales have put together a national record run of 13 straight victories.

The Irish, who were Grand Slam winners last year, are out to spoil the party as a gift to their own departing coach Joe Schmidt.

The world's number two side showed signs of a return to form following a poor start to the tournament with a dominant display last weekend against France.

You can watch the match live on BBC One and follow it on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website.

How the title will be won

  • A Wales win would give them the Six Nations title and Grand Slam. An additional three points are awarded to Grand Slam winners, which would put Wales out of England's reach
  • A draw for Wales would be enough to win the championship if England lose. If both sides draw, England would win the title if they earn a bonus point and Wales don't
  • If Wales and Ireland draw and England win, Eddie Jones' side would be champions
  • Ireland will be champions if they win and England don't
  • Should Ireland secure a bonus-point win over Wales and England beat Scotland without scoring four tries, the two teams will finish level on 19 points. Points difference would then decide the championship: England currently lead the way with 83, compared to Ireland's 19
Six Nations standings
Wales will receive a three-point bonus if they beat Ireland to clinch the Grand Slam, thus ensuring they will be crowned Six Nations champions

Line-ups

Wales: 15-L Williams; 14-North, 13-J Davies, 12-Parkes, 11-Adams; 10-Anscombe, 9-G Davies; 1-R Evans, 2-Owens, 3-Francis, 4-Beard, 5-AW Jones (c), 6-Navidi, 7-Tipuric, 8-Moriarty.

Replacements: 16- Dee, 17-Smith, 18-Lewis, 19-Ball, 20-Wainwright, 21-A Davies, 22-Biggar, 23-Watkin.

Ireland: 15-Kearney, 14-Earls, 13-Ringrose, 12-Aki, 11-Stockdale, 10-Sexton, 9-Murray; 1-Healy, 2-Best (c), 3-Furlong, 4-Beirne, 5-Ryan, 6-O'Mahony, 7-O'Brien, 8-Stander.

Replacements: 16-Scannell, 17-Kilcoyne, 18-Porter, 19-Roux, 20-Conan, 21-Marmion, 22-Carty, 23-Larmour.

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Six Nations 2019: Irish eyes not always smiling in Cardiff

Commentator's notes

Eddie Butler: "Rugby union's perfect storm: a Grand Slam showdown, the collapse of talks about the future of the rugby regions of Wales, a global debate on the shape of international competition.

"Pick the winners and you'll walk away rich enough to run a rugby club. Sorry, that's plain ridiculous. But what strange times.

"Even to pick a winner between Wales and Ireland risks brain strain.

"But here's a stab at it. Wales, in defiance of logic, with a creaky line-out and facing an almost constant assault on their line. Why? Because it's the way they play and it seems to work. But prepare space behind the sofa."

View from both camps

Wales head coach Warren Gatland: "For a number of us as coaches, this is our last Six Nations game, and the fact that it is in Cardiff is extra special.

"There is bound to be a bit of emotion on Saturday, and that is something to embrace."

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: "It is difficult to score against them, particularly at home.

"Obviously last year in Dublin we managed to score five tries but they do grow another leg in the Principality Stadium and that's going to be a challenge for us."

Six Nations Grand Slams

Grand Slam winners since 2000
Wales and France have both won three Grand Slams since the championship became the Six Nations in 2000

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • Ireland were the last team to beat Wales, in the third round of last year's Six Nations.
  • The Irish have lost just four of their last 17 Tests in Wales, but three of those have come in the last five visits.

Wales

  • Wales are on a national record run of 13 successive Test wins.
  • They have won on all three of their attempts to secure a Six Nations Grand Slam.
  • The last team to beat Wales in Cardiff on the final day were Ireland back in 2009.
  • Wales haven't conceded 20 points or more in any of their last six matches in the Six Nations - their longest run since going eight consecutive games between 2007 and 2009.

Ireland

  • Ireland have won 21 of their last 23 matches in all competitions, losing two.
  • They have scored 20 points or more in their last eight Six Nations games - their longest run in the Six Nations.
  • Eight of their 13 tries have originated from line-outs, the highest total in the 2019 Championship.

Match officials

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Touch judges: Ben O'Keefe (New Zealand) & Karl Dickson (England)

TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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Wales beat Scotland 18-11 to edge closer to the Grand Slam title

Five/Six Nations Grand Slams

NationTotalYears
England131913, 1914, 1921, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1957, 1980, 1991, 1992, 1995, 2003, 2016
Wales111908, 1909, 1911, 1950, 1952, 1971, 1978, 2005, 2008, 2012
France91968, 1977, 1981, 1987, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2010
Ireland31948, 2009, 2018
Scotland31925, 1984, 1990
Italy0-

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