For Ireland and England, the 2019 Six Nations picks up just where the Championship finished off a year previously – with a monumental clash against one of your fiercest rivals.
There is no better way to get a campaign in Rugby’s Greatest Championship underway, and on Saturday 2 February 2019 Ireland host England at Aviva Stadium (kick-off 16:45) in what promises to be a fascinating clash.
The two nations have long enjoyed a competitive rivalry but none more so than in the last five years, in which they’ve shared all five titles – Ireland claiming three and England two.
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Back in March, Round Five of the Championship pitted the pair together at Twickenham Stadium and saw Ireland run out 24-15 winners, claiming the third Grand Slam in their history with a comprehensive performance.
Joe Schmidt’s men had of course already sealed the Championship title a week previous but amid south-west London’s St Patrick’s Day snow, a famous day was witnessed – what better motivation for Red Rose revenge?
INTENSE CONTESTS, SWEET MEMORIES
Ireland and England have faced off 122 times in the Championship, with England holding a slight advantage (62 wins to 48) but with Ireland having the better since Joe Schmidt took over in 2013, winning three games to England’s two.
Whatever the outcome, matches between the two opponents are always ferociously contested and the old rivalry has served up some of the greatest moments in the history of the Championship.
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At Aviva Stadium back in 2017 the home side prevailed 13-9 in an intense end to that year’s Championship, back-rower Peter O’Mahony magnificent on the day and inspiring his side to deny England becoming the first team to win back-to-back Grand Slams since Italy joined in 2000.
The Red Rose last won at Aviva Stadium in 2013, Owen Farrell kicking four penalties to Ronan O’Gara’s two for a 12-6 win, but perhaps their most famous moment in recent years in Dublin came in 2003.
We now know what England’s Rugby World Cup winning crop of 2003 would go on to achieve, and the signs were there in the last round of the 2003 Championship as Martin Johnson skippered his side to a 42-6 victory at Lansdowne Road.
Both sides were on the hunt for a Grand Slam but it would be Clive Woodward’s men who would grab their 12th, Will Greenwood’s double plus scores for Mike Tindall, Dan Luger and Lawrence Dallaglio doing the damage.
Away victories are no stranger in this fixture of course, Brian O’Driscoll starring in a spectacular 2004 win for Ireland at Twickenham and Tommy Bowe’s double to achieve the same feat in 2010 living long in the memory.
Dublin – The Fair City, the capital of Ireland and, of course, the location of Aviva Stadium, the venue for Ireland’s home games in Rugby’s Greatest Championship.
There is so much to pack into a weekend in the Irish capital, one of Europe’s great cities.
The Guinness Storehouse is an absolute must-see with the highlight being a perfect pint of the black stuff in the 360-degree panoramic café at the end of the tour – with jaw-dropping views over the whole city.
The River Liffey runs through Dublin and a walk along its banks will take you into the heart of the city.
St Stephen’s Green – one of the largest enclosed city squares in Europe – is a hidden delight with fountains, foliage and fun wherever you look.
For a bit more culture, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum of Ireland are not to be missed as well.
And if you have a bit more time on your hands, why not get out of the city for a day trip and take a trip to the brutal and beautiful coast – Howth and Malahide are all well worth your time.
And one last tip from the top – always order your Guinness first at the bar in a hefty round. They take a while to pour and need to be left to settle so let your barman get those sorted first before ordering the rest of your drinks.
Since its re-opening as Aviva Stadium in 2010, Ireland have enjoyed some famous days at what used to be called Lansdowne Road.
Tommy Bowe was once again England’s tormentor-in-chief in 2011 as he scored the first try in a 24-8 victory at the stadium, whilst in 2014 a 26-3 win over reigning champions Wales served notice of Ireland’s title credentials.
If you’re flying into Dublin to visit the stunning stadium, fear not as the city centre is easily reached from the airport just 10km north.
Coaches and express buses run regularly while there is always a healthy taxi rank in operation.
Once in the city centre, your best bet for getting around is a Leap – the travel card that works across all public transport.
Close inspection of your ticket for an Ireland rugby game at the Aviva will tell you which coloured route to opt for once in the near vicinity.
The bus is often your best bet to get out to the ground, several Dublin bus routes head there from the city centre with the most convenient being the 1, 4, 18 and 47.
The Green Line Luas to Charlemont stop leaves you a 20-minute walk while the train (DART) to Lansdowne Road station will also be your friend.
A walk from the city centre is sizeable on matchday so leave at least 45 minutes to get yourself in position for kick-off.