The Irish Rugby Union will face Scotland in the opening round of the 2020 Six Nations tournament at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 1st February, 2020 as from 4:45 pm GMT. The winner of this game will be awarded the Centenary Quaich trophy which has been contested by these two sides since 1989 and to which Ireland are the defending champions having won 22-13 against Scotland in the 2019 Six Nations Edition. This game will be officiated by French referee Mathieu Raynal and will be live on ITV. Similarly, this game will be aired live on FR2, Virgin Media, DMAX, and NBC Sports.
Former assistant coach Andy Farell will be in charge of Ireland for the very first time as head coach having been promoted to the position with former manager Joe Schmidt stepping down after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Farell will be tasked with retaking the trophy away from Wales having won the championship in 2018 and finishing third in the 2019 edition.
Gregor Townsend will be under immense pressure to deliver results for Scotland having been one of the two Six Nations coaches retained for the 2020 edition in spite of an uninspiring performance at the Rugby World Cup having failed to make it out of the group stage. And with Scotland failing to win the championship since it was named Six Nations, good results will need to start trickling in sooner than later for Townsend and co.
Ireland was too strong for Scotland when these two sides last met at the BT Murrayfield in the 2019 Six Nations championship earning a 13-22 victory at the final whistle. Conor Murray and Jacob Stockdale scored tries for Ireland while Sam Johnson crossed the white wash for Scotland in a fast paced opening half. Keith Earls added another try for the visitors after the interval to put the match beyond Scotland’s reach and were deserved winners at the end of the match.
Leinster’s fly-half Jonathan Sexton will most likely lead the Irish attack with new head coach Andy Farell threatening to wipe the slate clean and get rid of his predecessor’s footprint from the green jersey. There will be a new Irish captain when the 2020 Six Nations tournament kicks off but one name whose inclusion could boost the morale of the whole squad is John Cooney who was omitted from the Rugby World Cup squad by Schmidt. With the majority of the squad consisting of aging players, Farell will need a short-term or long-term rebuild, whichever he chooses, and that might be a very key factor in this game.
Scotland on their part can be very underwhelming when faced with injuries as they lack the depth in their ranks to offset such an imbalance. Similarly, the Scots don’t boast a lot of world class talent in their squad and that can be proven by their inability to win the Six Nations championship. However, there is a once in a generation star in the squad in the form of Finn Rusell that has the ability to orchestrate the downfall of any opposition. The mercurial ten represents all the hope that Scotland has in the upcoming tournament and in the near future and as such will need to be kept fit heading into this game.
Head to Head
Ireland and Scotland ave met in 136 different occasions for rugby test matches since 1877. Ireland has won 64 times while Scotland leads with 67 overall win with the remaining 5 matches all ending in a draw. Whilst playing in Ireland, the hosts have won 35 times with the junk of those wins coming in the recent past and even though the Scots have won 26 times in Ireland, their most recent win dates back a decade on 20th March 2010 in Dublin.
Ireland is in a rebuilding phase having drafted an aging lineup in the past two tournaments. This really puts them in a bad sporting situation if they resort to making drastic changes to the squad but they will be strong if they stick to their veteran in the meantime. And being at home, the Irish team will be favorites in this one but despite Scotland’s poor recent performances, they stand a better chance of registering their first win in Dublin in over ten year when they face an Irish team in transition.
Prediction: Ireland 31 – 26 Scotland