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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
David Kelly Twitter Email

David Kelly’s Six Nations Diary: Roy Keane says no to pizza, punditry battle royale and the Welsh tall order

Roy Keane pictured during his time as Manchester United captain

Roy Keane was not at the infamous “Pizzagate” affair between Arsenal and Manchester United as he reminded Cesc Fabregas on Super Sunday recently and is clearly not a fan of the circular nosh.

With four days to go, here’s a look at some of the quirkier elements of the Six Nations tournament.


Paul O’Connell lifted the (pizza box) lid on one of his visits to the Munster camp, ironically only a year after his Old Trafford boss Alex Ferguson took a pineapple slice in the mush.

"Unbelievably nice guy, very articulate, you could identify with everything he said, he wanted to win and wanted people to have the same drive as him and I always really enjoyed him," O'Connell told the Captains with Sam Warburton podcast.

"One visit, a few guys were playing Monopoly when he arrived and they stayed sitting around the Monopoly table because they didn't want anyone to steal anything.

"I think he thought they continued to play (as he spoke) and he was a little bit insulted by that!

"We used to carb load the night before a game and Declan Kidney would say, sometimes a little of what's bad for you is good for you.

"So we were allowed to have pizzas the night before a game and he was going through a real phase at the time.

"He was talking about his body fat and I don't think he was eating any red meat, his body fat was down to four per cent. It was off-the-charts stuff.

"And as he was talking about all this stuff, 30 pizzas arrived into the room!”

The former Irish rugby captain remains a huge admirer of his United and Ireland counterpart.

The Six Nations schedule

"He wasn't the best player because he had one or two moments of brilliance, he was their best player because he was this relentless, driven player - this relentless, driven leader that didn't accept low standards off anyone.

"He wouldn't have come and spoken to us a few times at Munster and a lot of the leaders in Munster, we would have actually been copying Roy Keane.

"And it was brilliant in some ways because we were (the squad) such good friends.

"It was pre-social media, it was at a time when there was probably a lot more drinking going on as well - there was less of a camera on you and what you did outside the game, so we were very, very close friends.

"And because of that, we could be really, really tough on each other.

"We felt that's what Roy Keane did. We felt that's what we had to do and it was a brilliant way to because we knew each other so well.

"I met him personally a few times. It's funny. When he was doing his FIFA badges, Ireland were playing New Zealand and they had to visit another team, and rather than visit the Irish rugby team, he went and stayed for a week with the New Zealand team!

"We went for dinner with him, myself and a few of the other lads and I remember he told Ronan O'Gara, 'Listen, I can't tell you anything they were saying in camp, but I can tell you one thing, they'll be coming after you' - which every team did!"


Forget Andy Farrell’s dilemma at inside centre – who will couch potatoes choose as their favourites when the TV star wars commence?

All four major channels in these islands – RTÉ, Virgin Media, BBC and ITV – will screen every single minute of the Six Nations, with the Irish broadcasters also pitching in to show the Under-20s, who begin the defence of their Grand Slam on Friday night.

RTÉ presenter Jacqui Hurley and Virgin Media’s Newstalk loanee Joe Molloy will be joined by a host of pundits, including former Ireland full-back Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television) and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team, ten years after THAT flick opened the 2013 campaign in sensational style at Cardiff.

RTÉ and Virgin Media will once again split fixtures across the men's, women's, and U-20 Six Nations for the 2023 championships.

Three of the Irish men's team fixtures will be broadcast on RTÉ 2, with the crucial opening game in Cardiff and the closing match against England live on Virgin Media Television.

The fixtures are reversed for the women's tournament, which kicks off in late March.

U20 Fixtures

3rd February: Wales v Ireland (19:00) - Virgin Media Player

10th February: Ireland v France (20:00) - RTÉ 2

24th February: Italy v Ireland (19:15) - RTÉ 2

10th March: Scotland v Ireland (19:15) - RTÉ 2

19th March: Ireland v England (17:00) - Virgin Media Player

Women's Six Nations fixtures:

25th March: Wales v Ireland (14:15) - RTÉ 2

1 April: Ireland v France (15:15) - Virgin Media One

15 April: Italy v Ireland (16:45) - Virgin Media One

22 April: Ireland v England (14:15) - RTÉ 2

29 April: Scotland v Ireland (19:30) - Virgin Media One

Anyone who finds the navel-gazing Irish coverage too much to stomach can always switch to the, em, less parochial British coverage.

On ITV/UTV, Mark Pougatch and Jill Douglas will be joined by Jonny Wilkinson and Lawrence Dallaglio, Maggie Alphonsi, and two ex-Irish captains Brian O'Driscoll and Rory Best, as well as former Wales captain Gareth Thomas, Wales legend Jamie Roberts and Ian McGeechan.

Also on board are ex-Scotland lock Jim Hamilton, Wallaby great George Gregan and former France star Benjamin Kayser.

Martin Bayfield will also be on hand reporting alongside Gabriel Clarke. The commentary box will feature Nick Mullins and Miles Harrison, who will be joined by Shane Williams, Gordon D'Arcy, Ben Kay, Scott Hastings, David Flatman and Danielle Waterman.

Gabby Logan will lead BBC’s coverage, joined by Wales and Lions legend Sam Warburton, World Cup winner Martin Johnson, former Scotland international John Barclay and Ireland legend Tommy Bowe.

Andrew Cotter will provide commentary and will be joined by co-commentators Jonathan Davies and Chris Paterson. Legendary referee Nigel Owens will provide analysis at key moments during each game. Sonja McLaughlan and Lee McKenzie will be pitchside to offer the latest developments from on and off the field.

Pundits XV - Kearney; Bowe, O’Driscoll, D’Arcy, Zebo; Wilkinson, Gregan; Hayes, Best, Flatman, Johnson, Kay, Alphonsi, Warburton, Heaslip. Coach – Ian McGeechan. Manager: Donal Lenihan.


Wales head coach Warren Gatland says his players will relish tackling Ireland (David Davies/PA).

Warren Gatland’s selection is typically canny; a sprinkling of youth amongst experience, a few old hands restored, some ignored and hunger on the bench.

One such is Dafydd Jenkins, a name perhaps only familiar to rugby devotees in this country but one with a burgeoning reputation, forged principally on the other side of the Severn Bridge.

Aged just 20, the Bridgend-born beanpole became Exeter Chiefs’ youngest captain last November against London Irish, the same month in which he made his international debut, personally memorable, albeit in an embarrassing defeat to Georgia.

Rugby is in the Jenkins family DNA, Dafydd's father, Hywel, was back-row forward with Swansea and Neath, while both of his grandfathers also played.

A product of Porthcawl Comprehensive School, who did his A-levels at Hartpury College, he is combining life with the Chiefs with that of being a student at the University of Exeter, where he is studying Sports Science.

Standing at 6ft 7in and tipping the scales at close to 18 stone, the Welshman certainly has all the physical attributes. It is, however, his on-field understanding of the game which makes him stand out even further.

He made his Chiefs debut during the 2021/22 season in the Premiership Rugby Cup against Bristol Bears. Within weeks, he was featuring for the Devon club in the Heineken Champions Cup and Gallagher Premiership.

Jenkins admits that Paul O’Connell was one of his childhood heroes – except this weekend, he will be trying to unpick the Lions legend’s lineout codes.



The gifted French scrum-half Antoine Dupont leads the field in more ways than one as he boasts more Instagram followers than any of his rivals; Romain Ntamack (352,000) and Owen Farrell (343,000) trail, distantly.

Of the Irish, Conor Murray may not be guaranteed a place except on this list, ranking fifth with 243,000 ahead of Jonathan Sexton in seventh on 222,000.


2003: Wales 24 Ireland 25

Almost an ignored classic, perhaps understandably given the shedloads of drama that has been shoehorned into the subsequent two decades.

Twenty years on, this seems like a different sport; maybe not better, but much more fun. Knock-ons galore, two leading to Welsh tries, and a bit of stamping (on Brian O'Driscoll’s noggin).

And it also featured a supreme seven, Keith Gleeson, notching a brace of tries in his pomp to put his side seemingly in the clear, 19-7, at half-time.

However, tries from Stephen Jones, Martyn Williams – no mean flanker himself – and Gareth Thomas gave Wales an edge, seemingly confirmed by Jones’ late dropped goal.

Step up Ronan O’Gara, who responded in a heart-stopping finale when his restart bounced off a Welsh head and into Malcolm O’Kelly’s bread basket.

Still, Wales came back, and when Justin Bishop deliberately knocked on, Jones essayed another drop, presuming he would have a penalty advantage.

Referee Steve Lander had his arm out. Penalty or scrum? We hardly knew. Denis Hickie launched himself at Jones and blocked the kick.

Lander later said it had been a scrum advantage. “Shamrocked!” screamed our colleagues in the Western Mail.

Mercifully, none of us had to file match reports or player ratings on the whistle!

It wouldn’t be the first time the grand old city would see late dropped goal dramas being played out between Messrs Jones and O’Gara.

That would come later. For now, a Grand Slam beckoned.

"A showdown for the Grand Slam, the winner takes all and the devil take the hindmost,” said Eddie O’Sullivan in inimitable fashion.

Within a week, Ireland’s dreams were carpeted by Martin Johnson’s marauding English.

Wales: R Williams (Cardiff); M Jones (Llanelli; Watkins, Newport, 11), Taylor (Swansea; Harris, Cardiff, 61), Shanklin (Saracens), G Thomas (Bridgend); S Jones (Llanelli); Cooper (Bath; Peel, Llanelli, 50); I Thomas (Llanelli), Humphreys (Bath, capt; Davies, Pontypridd, 42), Jenkins (Pontypridd; Madden, Llanelli, 75), Sidoli (Pontypridd), Llewellyn (Neath), Charvis (Swansea), M Williams (Cardiff), D Jones (Llanelli).

Tries: S Jones, M Williams, G Thomas. Cons: S Jones 3. Drop-goal: S Jones.

Ireland: Murphy (Leicester); Bishop (London Irish), O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), Maggs (Bath), Hickie (Leinster); Humphreys (Ulster; O'Gara, Munster, 70), Stringer (Munster); Horan (Leinster; Fitzpatrick, Ulster, 75), Byrne (Leinster), Hayes (Munster), Cullen (Leinster; O'Callaghan, Munster, 70), O'Kelly (Leinster), Quinlan (Munster; Miller, Leinster, 76), Gleeson (Leinster), Foley (Munster).

Tries: Gleeson 2. Pens: Humphreys 4. O'Gara.

Referee: S Lander (England).

Attendance: 72,500.


Osborne ready to go

“The dream is to make the first cap. I’ll be desperate to take a chance if I get one. I know the coaches from the Emerging Ireland tour and know how they want to play, so that makes the transition a little easier.” Uncapped Leinster star Jamie Osborne

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