Wales v Ireland, Six Nations 2023: What time is kick-off, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?

Warren Gatland and Andy Farrell - PA/John Walton
Warren Gatland and Andy Farrell - PA/John Walton

Andy Farrell has delivered a sarcastic riposte to Warren Gatland, saying the only “free shot” the returning Wales coach will receive will be the drink his Ireland counterpart will buy him after the Six Nations opener on Saturday.

Farrell named his 23 on Thursday for the Cardiff clash, with Tadhg Furlong missing because of a calf issue. However, despite the absence of the influential tighthead prop, Farrell maintained his sense of humour.

When told about Gatland’s attempt to place all the pressure on the world’s No 1-ranked team, Farrell said: “A free shot in Test match rugby? Where do you get them from? We’d love to be able to buy one of those. I’ll buy him a free shot after the game.

“But there’s absolutely no doubt that Warren will expect his side to win, and so do I – I expect our side to win. His past record shows what he’s about in this competition. Finding a way to win has always been key to those teams, and we’re very aware of that.”

Ireland have not won in the Six Nations in Cardiff for 10 years, but Farrell highlighted the confidence running through a side who beat New Zealand, South Africa and Australia last year, by changing the nation’s normal policy at the Principality Stadium and agreeing to have the roof closed.

“We had to agree with it being shut, but we wanted it to sample the atmosphere and keep progressing on our journey,” he said.

Farrell has brought in Connacht’s Finlay Bealham to cover for ­Furlong, but the Lion is expected to be fit for the visit of France next weekend.

Wales had their own injury setback as Leigh Halfpenny was forced to withdraw because of a back spasm. Liam Williams, who has played only 180 minutes of rugby this season, fills in at full-back.

When and where is Wales v Ireland?

This first-round fixture between Wales and Ireland is on Saturday, February 4, with kick-off at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff at 2.15pm. The other matches that weekend Italy-France at 3pm and England vs Scotland at 4.45pm.

What TV channel is Wales v Ireland on?

Wales vs Ireland will be shown on the BBC.

What happened in this fixture in 2022?

Last year's first-round meeting saw Ireland pull off a comprehensive routing of their guests at the Aviva Stadium, barely breaking sweat as they beat defending champions Wales to complete their ninth consecutive Test win. The visitors had to wait 73 minutes for their first points on the board in their largest defeat of the competition.

Ireland went on to win the Triple Crown for the sixth time in the history of the championship.

Read Telegraph Sport's full coverage here.

What is the latest team news?


"Unfortunately, Leigh [Halfpenny] had a back spasm this morning and Liam [Williams] will be playing," Wales forward coach Jonathan Humphreys said. "I think it's more disappointing for him as a person. He's had a couple of these recently. He's an unbelievable professional and an unbelievable person.

"He's got to pick himself up again. You feel for him that he's got to pull out at this late stage again."

Wales team to play Ireland
Backs: 15-Liam Williams, 14-Josh Adams, 13-George North, 12-Joe Hawkins, 11-Rio Dyer, 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Tomos Williams. Forwards: 1-Gareth Thomas, 2-Ken Owens (capt), 3-Tomas Francis, 4-Adam Beard, 5-Alun Wyn Jones, 6-Jac Morgan, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16-Scott Baldwin, 17.-Rhys Carre, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Dafydd Jenkins, 20-Tommy Reffell, 21-Rhys Webb, 22-Owen Williams, 23-Alex Cuthbert. (Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris)


Apart from the injury to Furlong (see above) Andy Farrell's maiden selection of the tournament contains no surprises.

Centre Stuart McCloskey will make his first appearance in the championship since his Test debut seven years ago. The Ulster player has retained the number 12 jersey ahead of Bundee Aki to continue his midfield partnership with Garry Ringrose, having impressed in November's victories over South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

His only previous appearance in the tournament came in 2016 when he won the first of his nine caps to date in a 21-10 loss to England at Twickenham.

James Lowe returns on the left wing after missing the autumn campaign with a calf injury, while captain Johnny Sexton is ready to lead the side from fly-half having overcome his cheekbone issue.

Sexton will be partnered by Leinster team-mate Jamison Gibson-Park in the half-back positions, with Mack Hansen on the right wing and Hugo Keenan at full-back.

Munster lock Tadhg Beirne has been given the nod over fit-again Iain Henderson in a fairly settled forward pack and will line up alongside vice-captain James Ryan.

Hooker Dan Sheehan will pack down between Andrew Porter and Bealham, while reigning world player of the year Josh Van Der Flier and Peter O'Mahony are either side of Caelan Doris in the back row.

Ross Byrne has been preferred to rookie Jack Crowley as back-up for Sexton. He is joined on the bench by Aki, who was suspended for Ireland's first two matches in November and has not played since December 23 due to being dropped by Connacht, O'Toole, Henderson, Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Jack Conan and Conor Murray.

Ireland team to play Wales
Backs: H Keenan (Leinster); M Hansen (Connacht), G Ringrose (Leinster), S McCloskey (Ulster), J Lowe (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), J Gibson Park (Leinster). Forwards: A Porter (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht); T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster); P O’Mahony (Munster), J van der Flier (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster)

Replacements: R Herring (Ulster), C Healy (Leinster), T O’Toole (Ulster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Conan (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), R Byrne (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht)

Who is the referee?

  • Referee: Karl Dickson (RFU)

  • Assistant Referee 1: Angus Gardner (RA)

  • Assistant Referee 2: Luke Pearce (RFU)

  • TMO: Tom Foley (RFU)

Wales v Ireland latest odds

  • Wales 2/1

  • Ireland 2/5

  • Draw 20/1

Odds correct as of February 2

What is our prediction?

Wales 17 Ireland 27

Warren Gatland is masterful when it comes to galvanising a side and will spur a dogged effort from Wales. Ireland, however, should have enough quality and cohesion to convert try-scoring chances.