Ireland vs Wales Prediction: Six Nations 2022 Week One

Banner with the Irish and Welsh flags, for the Six Nations.
TournamentSix Nations
TimetableSaturday 5th of February at 14:15 GMT
PredictionIreland to Win
OddsIreland to Win @ 1.12
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It's Launch Day on Saturday 5th February, with Ireland vs Wales being the first exciting Rugby Union match of the Six Nations Championship 2022. Every fan in the Northern Hemisphere will be expecting so much from each team after the Northern hemisphere tests against the Southern Hemisphere teams.

ireland-wales-six-nations

Background

The Six Nations should now be considered equal to the Down Under 4 Nations Championship between New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina. I say this as the gap between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere has certainly thinned since the Autumn Internationals.

Everyone is now talking about France, England and Ireland as being some of the top teams in the world and as being the main contenders to win the Six Nations Championship. Let's not forget, however, that a lot of pundits said similar when Wales were in the same position before winning the Six Nations in 2021. The popular press didn’t give them a chance, but the Welsh Dragons certainly fired themselves up and burnt the betting books. This is the Welsh national game, and although the Welsh were not as they were during their golden years of 1893 to 1913, they were certainly worthy Six Nations Champions.

Wales had an OK Autumn International campaign, losing to New Zealand and South Africa, but still claiming convincing victories over Fiji and Australia.

Ireland had an exceptional Autumn Internationals campaign, with a clean sweep including beating the All Blacks, Japan and Argentina. Who would have bet on those results?

Overall, many would pick the Irish to win, but then again, in 2021, Wales came from behind to beat Ireland at the Principality Stadium, 21 points to 16, due to poor discipline from Ireland taking them down to 14 men. Will the same happen again? Let's take a look at some of the previous head-to-head results to see if there is a hint for what will happen this time.

Previous Ireland vs Wales Results

Ireland have played Wales a grand total of 131 times. Wales have won 69 times and Ireland have won 55 times. They also have drawn seven times.

Interestingly enough, Ireland have beaten Wales 12 times in the Six Nations Championship, with Wales only having returned the favour nine times. Both teams have also grinded to a draw twice.

Overall, these numbers don't show any significant domination from one side or the other, so perhaps we are best considering other factors when looking for a winner.

The Advantage of Playing at Home

Like with other sports, as many of our usual football readers will attest, the home advantage can play a huge part in the outcome of a match - especially when sides are relatively evenly matched. Wales and Ireland have both enjoyed the home advantage in the past, producing the following results:

Home/AwayIrelandWales
Home Wins76
Away Wins53

We can see that the home advantage clearly has an effect, but there is a catch with this year's competition: due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Irish will only allow up to 5,000 spectators into the Aviva Stadium; something far short of the usual 51,700 capacity. That means Amhran na bhFiann will seem more a mumble of pigeons in the park compared to the loud and proud roar from a usual swarming Irish crowd we are used to.

Will the Irish see much of a home advantage in that case? Let's see if 5,000 fans will be enough to create an atmosphere that will see the men in green victorious.

The Influence of the Two Captains

The curse of big hits in Rugby Union is creating more injuries during collisions in the modern game. Rucking, mauling and tackling are the main contact areas for injuries, with the following being some of the potential results:

  • Concussion
  • Sprains and strains
  • Dislocated Shoulders
  • Overuse injuries
  • Slipped Disk

What’s any of this got to do with the influence of the two captains? I can hear you asking. Well, both teams may be suffering from a lack of influence due to injuries in this Six Nations.

Alun Wyn Jones

The Welsh captain has now had two operations on his shoulder for an injury he sustained in the Autumn Internationals game with New Zealand. The mighty Jones does seem to be able to beat Mother Nature with his healing process, considering that last year, three weeks after dislocating his shoulder, he was back on the field playing for the British and Irish Lions, and he does appear to be recovering well again. Alas, no one has said that Jones will be leading the Welsh on the field in the 2022 Six Nations Championship. What we can see happening is the man-mountain leading training and advising from the sidelines. More than this though? Only Jones and his body will know.

Johnny Sexton

It must seem that the All Blacks have a thing for taking out captains, given that Johnny Sexton was another to come away injured from a clash with New Zealand in the Autumn Internationals this year. With damage to his knee and ankle, it seems the Irish veteran could be sitting on the bench at kick-off. He is recovering well, however, and the Irish will be dying to see the World's Best Player 2018 take to the field if there is any possibility. We shall have to see what happens on Saturday!

Player Injuries

Alongside the two captains, both teams also have other concerns about their squads, so neither side will be at full strength. Let's take a look at the players currently keeping the doctors and physios busy:

Ireland Injuries

PlayerInjury
Dan LeavyWrist
Stuart McCloskeyHamstring
Iain HendersonAnkle
Robert CaloucouneShoulder

Wales Injuries

PlayerInjury
Ken OwensBack
Ross MoriartyShoulder
James DaviesConcussion
Josh NavidiShoulder
Dan LydiateKnee
Leigh HalfpennyKnee

Ireland vs Wales Winner: Who Are We Predicting to Take the 'W'?

The first match of the Six Nations is certainly going to be a big clash: two national teams with long histories of rugby glory battling it out at the Aviva Stadium. Who will draw first blood though?

With the home advantage, a great showing in the Autumn Internationals, and fewer injuries, I can only see the Irish taking the 'W'. It will be a close contest, and Wales will certainly throw everything they've got at Andy Farrell's men, but I feel it's going to be green all the way. The real question is to whether Wales will pick up the <=7 bonus point. Either way, this game is going to be one to watch!

Ireland to Win