Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Wales Online
Wales Online
Steffan Thomas & Mark Orders & Ben James

Wales v Ireland exact scoreline predicted as rugby writers agree what will happen

The 2023 Six Nations begins with Wales v Ireland in Cardiff, so which way is it going to go?

Our rugby writers make their predictions for Saturday's match.

SIGN UP: Get the latest exclusive stories and breaking rugby headlines sent straight to your inbox for free with our daily newsletter

Mark Orders: Furlong a loss, but Ireland have class to edge it

Too often at the start of Wales campaigns under Wayne Pivac the mind tracked back to the opening scenes in the film Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, with nothing quite getting off the ground.

New Zealand at the outset of autumn Tests in 2021 and 2022, Ireland in the opening round of the last Six Nations, Scotland at the beginning of the 2020 pre-Christmas games — games that all ended in deflating defeats.

Warren Gatland is back in charge and he’ll want to ensure a better start but the Irish are first up again and they’ll take the field in Cardiff as favourites for this year’s Six Nations title.

That said, Gatland may take comfort from several factors.

One, the game is in Cardiff, where Wales haven’t lost against Ireland in the Six Nations since 2013; two, Gatland’s team are not overburdened by pressure as they go up against the number one ranked side in the world; three, there is a chance of catching the visitors cold so early in the tournament; four, a lot of Welsh players have come into camp with confidence, having been part of winning European teams.

Of course, Irish players have been winning in Europe as well, but in recent years it’s unusual for their Wales counterparts to be enjoying success.

Ireland are also without their scrummaging star Tadhg Furlong. If Gatland had been handed a tweezers and told he could pluck any player out of Ireland’s starting lineup and leave him on the sidelines for the weekend, there’s a fair chance he would have chosen the Lions Test tighthead.

But the visitors are still seriously strong, with 10 starters from Leinster, who are unbeaten in all competitions this season. They have carriers up front, turnovers specialists, lineout aces and physicality. Wales will need to go well to counter all that.

Ireland are also slick behind, with Johnny Sexton the man who drives a classy backline.

None of which will daunt the senior statesmen in the Wales team. There is experience aplenty in the home side and the likes of Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Ken Owens and Alun Wyn Jones will not be taking the field to make up the numbers. Winning is not beyond them, but the challenge is a major one.

Wales 25-29 Ireland

Win a Wales rugby shirt for the Six Nations below. You can also access it here.

Ben James: Irish to end 10-year wait

For Warren Gatland, Wales and the Six Nations, the second stint picks up where the first one left off.

Four years after delivering a hammer blow to an Ireland side that had peaked too early for a World Cup, he faces his old rivals again - with Ireland on top of the world in every sense other than the one that involves winning the Webb Ellis Cup later this year.

Unlike the side that Gatland’s Wales dispensed with to seal a Grand Slam in 2019, Andy Farrell’s Ireland shows no sign of peaking too soon. They’re a better developed side than four years ago, with multiple weapons and an unerring knack of turning fast-paced phases into points.

For Gatland and his new coaching ticket, simply being in the contest is the first step after a meeting in Dublin last year where Wales barely won a collision all day. It’ll be pragmatic and gritty from Wales this time and that should keep them in the fight - particularly if an Ospreys-heavy pack can replicate their set-piece dominance.

Ireland haven’t won a Six Nations match in Cardiff in a decade. It won’t be easy for them, but that should change this time around.

Wales 16-26 Ireland

Steffan Thomas: Look at the facts, Ireland should win

Rewind the clock three months and the very thought of Wales beating Ireland in the Six Nations would have seemed as unlikely as Warren Gatland returning as head coach.

But the New Zealander is back at the helm and this has turned from being an almost guaranteed win for Ireland to a potential banana skin.

This is the best time for Gatland's men to catch the Irish cold in front of a packed out Principality Stadium.

While expectations have risen since the return of Gatland let's look at the facts. The majority of these players have lost at home to both Italy and Georgia in the same calendar year while Ireland have won a test series in New Zealand.

If Wales are to stand any chance on Saturday they must start well. If they can get points on the board early doors they will get the crowd on their side, and their confidence will rise.

Expect Wales to be emotional and significantly improved from their dreadful autumn campaign but the reality is Ireland should be far too strong for them, even without generational talent Tadhg Furlong.

I expect Wales to be in contention going into the final quarter of this test match but Ireland are too well-oiled a machine and should win this one by two-scores.

Wales 18-29 Ireland

Read more:

Piers Morgan ridicules Delilah ban as Wales legend describes WRU decision as 'crazy'

Today's rugby news as Wales players 'on edge' around Warren Gatland and world star quits overnight

The stark financial future for Wales' four regions as full details of new WRU funding deal revealed

Wales v Ireland head to head ratings as Gatland's men measure up to world's best

Welsh rugby's planned changes explained: What they mean, why they're needed and the major problem to get them passed

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.