Wales begin the defence of their Six Nations crown on Saturday as they welcome Italy to the Principality Stadium.
Having won their first title in six years in 2019, it is a new era for Wales under Wayne Pivac, who replaced his compatriot Warren Gatland.
England finished as runners up last year, and Eddie Jones’ team – champions in 2016 and 2017 – start their campaign against France in Paris.
Meanwhile, this year’s Centenary Quaich between Ireland and Scotland takes place in Dublin, with Andy Farrell getting his first taste of Six Nations action as a head coach.
With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the opening round of matches.
4 – Matteo Minozzi has scored in each of his last 4 @SixNationsRugby matches, the only Italy player to manage that in the tournament; only 3 players have scored in five consecutive games in the Six Nations (Philippe Bernat-Salles, Shane Williams and George North). Buzzing. pic.twitter.com/6YkJ18duA6
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) January 30, 2020
Wales v Italy
– Holders Wales have won 17 of their 20 Six Nations matches against Italy, including their past 12 in a row, last losing this fixture in 2007.
– At home, Wales – who claimed a Grand Slam in 2019 – have 14 wins from their past 16 games in the Six Nations, their two defeats in that time both coming against England in 2015 and 2017.
– Italy have lost their past 22 games in the Six Nations, the longest losing run in the history of the competition, with their most recent win coming at Murrayfield against Scotland five years ago.
– Wales achieved a goal kicking success rate of 83 per cent across all their Test matches in 2019, the best rate of any Tier 1 side, while Italy had the lowest such rate (64 per cent).
– George North will start at centre for Wales and he needs one more try to become the third player to score 20 in the Six Nations, joining Brian O’Driscoll (26) and Shane Williams (22).
Ireland v Scotland
– Only once in the past four seasons have Ireland won their opening game of a Six Nations, going on to win the Grand Slam in the year they managed to do so (2018).
– Scotland have just seven wins in 50 away matches in the Six Nations, with five of those coming in Italy.
– Ireland have won five of their past six Six Nations games against Scotland, their sole defeat in that time coming in 2017 at Murrayfield.
Conor Murray has 19 assists to his name for Ireland in the Six Nations, the most of any player from any nation. He is also the joint-top try-scoring scrum-half in the competition, with nine.
France v England
– Billy Vunipola made 198 carries in international rugby in 2019, over 50 more than any other player, while was also the top metre-making forward for a Tier 1 side.
– France – who finished fourth last year – have crossed for just six tries in their past six home games against England in the Six Nations.
– Rugby World Cup runners-up England have won 10 of their past 13 Six Nations matches against France, though all three losses in that time came in Paris.
– Jones’ side scored 24 tries in the 2019 Six Nations, eight more than any other side and double the amount France managed.
– However, of the 10 Tier 1 nations, only New Zealand managed a higher tackle success rate than France in 2019 across all matches.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta