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England vs Ireland: Facts and stats

22 February 2014

  • Get up to speed on when, where and how to watch England v Ireland
  • Read about the key battles and quotes from each camp

Following a tough couple of away trips to start their 2014 RBS 6 Nations campaign, England arrive back at Twickenham – a venue that has only been conquered by Steve Hansen's all-conquering All Blacks in the past 14 months.

That said, their first assignment as home is difficult one. On the back of consecutive, comfortable victories over Scotland and Wales, Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are in excellent form and can clinch a Triple Crown.

Joe Schmidt

Photo: Getty Images

Flankers Peter O’Mahony and Chris Henry are supreme scrappers and have spoiled opposition possession brilliantly so far this tournament. While not quite conjuring his characertistic magic with ball in hand, Brian O’Driscoll’s brain is as sharp as ever. The men in green look intent on sending their superstar centre into retirement with a bang.

Dan Cole’s neck problem means Stuart Lancaster is shorn of a trusted lieutenant, having picked the prop for every game he take charge of (barring the Tests in Argentina which clashed with the Lions). Denied the chance to name an unchanged side for the third successive match for the first time in 14 years, David Wilson takes up the number three shirt and adds 31 caps of experience to the hosts’ dynamic, destructive pack. A fantastic match lies ahead.

When? Saturday, February 22
Where? Twickenham Stadium
Kick-off? 4pm GMT

How to keep up with the action

  • Live on BBC 1 from 3.30pm. Regular updates on BBC Five Live
  • Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search iTunes for Official RFU)
  • Live score updates from @EnglandRugby on Twitter
  • Match report, post-match interviews and highlights on RFU.com

The teams

England: 15. Mike Brown, 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Luther Burrell, 12. Billy Twelvetrees, 11. Jonny May, 10. Owen Farrell, 9. Danny Care; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. David Wilson, 4. Joe Launchbury, 5. Courtney Lawes, 6. Tom Wood, 7. Chris Robshaw (captain), 8. Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16. Tom Youngs, 17. Mako Vunipola, 18. Henry Thomas, 19. Dave Attwood, 20. Ben Morgan, 21. Lee Dickson, 22. George Ford, 23. Alex Goode.

Ireland: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Andrew Trimble, 13. Brian O'Driscoll, 12. Gordon D'Arcy, 11. Dave Kearney, 10. Jonathan Sexton, 9. Conor Murray; 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best, 3. Mike Ross, 4. Devin Toner, 5. Paul O'Connell, 6. Peter O'Mahony, 7. Chris Henry, 8. Jamie Heaslip.

Replacements: 16. Sean Cronin, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Martin Moore, 19. Iain Henderson, 20. Jordi Murphy, 21. Isaac Boss, 22. Paddy Jackson, 23. Fergus McFadden.

Previous meetings

  • February 2013: Ireland 6 England 12, Dublin
  • February 2012: England 30 Ireland 9, Twickenham
  • March 2011: Ireland 24 England 8, Dublin
  • February 2010: England 16 Ireland 20, Twickenham
  • February 2009: Ireland 14 England 13, Dublin

Key head-to-heads

Joe Launchbury vs Paul O'Connell: A full 12 years older than Launchbury, O’Connell is the abrasive heartbeat of his side. It was the back-rowers that got showered in plaudits after Wales were dismantled, but Joe Schmidt’s skipper tore into the opening exchanges to set a one-sided tone. At the lineout and as a benchmark for Ireland’s aggressive rucking, he remains a massive influence.  Far greener at 22, Launchbury has quickly become a hugely pivotal cog for England. Effervescent and dynamic, the young London Wasps can be a cornerstone of Graham Rowntree’s pack for the next decade. This match-up will hold no fear.

Paul O'Connell

Photo: Getty Images

Tom Wood vs Peter O'Mahony: Strikingly similar in their awkward, abrasive manner of play, Wood and O’Mahony are both excellent, unfussy operators that drive the emotional intensity of their teams. Ireland’s number six has perhaps been the most impressive player in the tournament so far, his turnovers pilfering possession on numerous occasions. Defying a sticky surface to hit 36 rucks against Scotland – one every 133 seconds – Wood has kept astronomically standards in work-rate. This pair will get to know each other very well this afternoon.

Luther Burrell vs Brian O'Driscoll: The tussle at outside centre represents the archetypal clash between intrepid inexperience and gnarled know-how. As O’Driscoll steps out onto the field wearing green for a 131st time, his competitive desire is burning no less bright than it was on Test debut some 14 and a half years ago. There may be fewer magic moments in attack, but pragmatism and granite solidity in defence are still key attributes. Bristling with power, England’s number 13 is not daunted. Burrell has scored tries in his first two Tests and benefitted from the education of a pair of matches against O’Driscoll in the Heineken Cup already this season – one win and one loss. Best of three? 

Quotes from the camps

Joe Schmidt (Ireland coach): “We are going to have to be very, very effective in our first up tackle with the likes of Tom Wood, Billy Vunipola, Dylan Hartley carrying.

“In defence, England pick and choose their rucks really well. They don’t overload the rucks and they have got a lot of guys on their feet to defend but when they sniff a chance they are very destructive at the ruck and they pour numbers through.

“Guys like Wood and Robshaw charging through that ruck makes it very difficult to maintain a real tempo and continuity if that ruck ball isn’t stable and quickly delivered.”

Andy Farrell (England Backs Coach): “It's great on paper because of the friendship [Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton] have and the respect they've got for each other.

Luther Burrell

Photo: Getty Images

“Those two boys know more than most it's not just about them, it's about organising the rest of the players to bring out the best performance on the day.

“It's going to be a mouth-watering clash at Twickenham. Both sides are fully prepared after a weekend off, and it could be the outcome of the game will depend largely on the half-backs.”

Did you know?

  • If Luther Burrell scores a try, he will become the fifth Englishman to cross in each of their first three Tests
  • This is the 128th Anglo-Irish clash. England have won 73 and lost 46 to date, with another 8 drawn
  • Including Tests for the British and Irish Lions, this is Brian O'Driscoll's 139th capped international, drawing him level with George Gregan at the top of the all-time list
  • This is David Wilson's 32nd Test, but only his eighth start
  • In their first two games, England have beaten 55 defenders. Ireland have beaten 34.