The milestone men ahead of Round One

Cattolica Test Match 2018, Roma,
The 2019 Guinness Six Nations gets underway tonight in Paris as France welcome Wales for a crunch clash.

The 2019 Guinness Six Nations gets underway tonight in Paris as France welcome Wales for a crunch clash.

Scotland host Italy on Saturday afternoon before the opening round comes to its conclusion in Dublin on Saturday night as England face down defending Grand Slam champions Ireland.

Momentum is key in Rugby’s Greatest Championship and all teams will be desperate to kick things off with a win.

The team always comes first, but there are also some individual milestones to celebrate.


Ken Owens will start in the No.2 jersey for Wales tonight in Paris and in so doing becomes the most capped hooker in Welsh rugby history.

The man they call the ‘Sheriff’ or even ‘Canonball Ken’, earns his 61st Wales cap and goes past Matthew Rees in the charts to stand alone at the summit.

It is fitting that Owens overtakes the man he inherited the hooker role from at Parc y Scarlets and has become a fixture for Warren Gatland since the last World Cup.

Before then, Owens often had to settle for an impact bench role, only 29 of his 61 caps for his country have come as starts vs Rees who made 40 starts in his 60 Tests.

Other names worthy of special mention include Garin Jenkins who won 58 caps (52 of them starts) and Owens’ forwards coach Robin McBryde, who made 30 starts in 37 caps.


Furthermore a victory for Wales tonight will also continue Adam Beard and Dillon Lewis’s unbeaten starts to life as international rugby players.

Beard has so far played eight won eight since his debut in the summer of 2017 against Samoa, while Lewis is also eight from eight after his debut the week before against Tonga on that same tour.

But neither of the duo have played in the Guinness Six Nations before and have a way to go to match Geoff Wheel’s record run in a Welsh jersey of 15 games unbeaten between January 1975 and March 1978.


Saturday will also see Italy head to BT Murrayfield hoping to re-enact their historic win over the Scots in 2015.

Two men involved that day are also marking magnificent personal achievements this week in the Scottish capital.

The first of them is the great Sergio Parisse who, in making his 66th career Guinness Six Nations appearance, becomes the most capped player in the history of Rugby’s Greatest Championship.

Parisse will pass the great Brian O’Driscoll to stand out on his own and the 35-year-old, with a Rugby World Cup on the horizon, is not done yet.


What he would give to mark the big day with a victory on the road against the old enemy Scotland?


Joining him in the history books will be the hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini.

The latest Roman centurion, the 34-year-old will join seven other men to have won 100 caps for Italy.

The seven to have come before him are: Parisse, Martin Castrogiovanni, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, Andrea Lo Cicero and Alessandro Troncon.

And the Toulouse hooker, formerly of Leicester Tigers and Benetton Rugby, continues to lead from the front for Conor O’Shea’s side.

His battle with the in-form Stuart McInally up front will go a long way to deciding if Italy can claim their first win under O’Shea in the Championship.