Ellis vs Ward

Ellis vs Ward this Friday on SHOWTIME.Undefeated super middleweight prospect and Massachusetts native Ronald Ellis (15-0-2, 10 KOs) will look to set the tone for a successful sports weekend for New England when he takes on DeAndre Ware (12-1-2, 8 KOs) in the 10-round main event of ShoBox: The New Generation this Friday live on SHOWTIME (10 PM ET/PT).

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The fight, which will take place at The Main Street Armory in Rochester, New York, will serve as another opportunity for Ellis, a native of Lynn, Massachusetts.

Ellis, who is a huge fan of his beloved New England Patriots, is eager to earn a big win and then return to his new residence in Los Angeles to see Tom Brady bring home a record sixth Super Bowl title.

“My camp went beautiful. I have had a couple camps in a row, so I was able to work on a lot of things. I learned a lot in this camp,” said Ellis.

The 29-year-old Ellis knows that he has a tough customer in front of him in once-beaten Ware.

“Ware is a solid fighter. He is real tough, and he comes forward. He is not a tall guy, but he makes up with it with his toughness. He is a former football player, and he likes to come forward, so I know he will be there.”

READ  Ronald Ellis and DeAndre Ware – ShoBox weigh-in results

This will be the fourth appearance on ShoBox for Ellis, and he feels that a strong performance will lead him to major fights in the next year.

“This year, I have to execute. Now it’s time to perform. I just need to keep fighting, and if that happens I feel that I will be in line for a title shot in the next year. There is a lot of talent in the division, and now it’s time to knuckle up and all fight each other. I feel that I can compete with the elite of the division.”

When talking about the Patriots, Ellis lights up. He has been a fan of the team since he was a youth growing up in the Boston suburbs.

“It’s is going to be a great game. Ironically, I moved to Los Angeles to train a couple of years ago, and for the last week all I’ve been hearing about is the Rams. It has been fun going at with the guys in the gym about the game, but I will always represent the Patriots. I am going to get the state of Massachusetts off to a good start on Friday, and the Patriots will have their arms raised on Sunday.”

READ  Deandre Ware Looks To Put Out Ronald Ellis Live On Showtime® Tonight

Ellis and Ware headline a tripleheader that will also feature undefeated lightweights Thomas Mattice (13-0-1, 10 KOs) of Cleveland taking on Will Madera (12-0-2, 6 KOs) of Albany, New York in an eight-round bout. The broadcast kicks off with a eight-round super featherweight contest between undefeated fighters Abraham Nova (14-0, 10 KOs) of Albany, New York and Oluwaseun Joshua Wahab (18-0, 11 KOs) of Accra, Ghana.

Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by GH3 Promotions in association with Greg Cohen Promotions, are priced at $100 for VIP Ringside, $50 for Preferred Seating, $30 for General Admission and $2,000 for VIP Tables. Tickets can be purchased by calling 585-232-3221.

Ronald Ellis and DeAndre Ware

Ronald Ellis and DeAndre Ware – ShoBox weigh-in results.Undefeated super middleweight prospect Ronald Ellis and once-beaten DeAndre Ware both made weight on Thursday for their 10-round super middleweight clash in the main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation doubleheader tomorrow/Friday live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT) from Main Street Armory in Rochester.

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Ellis (15-0-2, 10 KOs), who recently sparred with Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev, returns toShoBox for the fourth time seeking a statement win. The Lynn, Mass., native faces Ware (12-1-2, 8 KOs), a come-forward fighter out of Toledo, Ohio who trained with Tony Harrison in preparation for his upset win over Jermell Charlo.

The event is promoted by GH3 Promotions in association with Greg Cohen Promotions. Tickets can be purchased by calling 585-232-3221.

In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated lightweights Thomas Mattice and Will Madera will face off in an eight-round 135-pound matchup. Like Ellis, Mattice (13-0-1, 10 KOs), of Cleveland, returns for his fourth bout on the prospect developmental series. Madera (12-0-2, 6 KOs), a three-time New York Golden Gloves Champion out of Albany, N.Y., will make his television debut.

The scheduled televised opener between Abraham Nova and Oluwaseun Joshua Wahab was cancelled after Wahab was forced to withdraw from the bout due to immigration issues entering the U.S. from Ghana.

READ  Ronald Ellis faces DeAndre Ward this Friday on SHOWTIME

FINAL WEIGHTS

Super Middleweight 10-Round Bout
Ronald Ellis – 167 ½ Pounds
DeAndre Ware – 166 ¾ Pounds

Lightweight 8-Round Bout
Thomas Mattice – 134 ¼ Pounds
Will Madera – 134 ½ Pounds

Palicte vs  Martinez

Palicte vs  Martinez title eliminator Roy Jones Jr. Boxing Promotions has put together a solid card to support the World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior bantamweight world title eliminator between “Mighty” Aston Palicte (24-2-1, 20 KOs) and Jose “Chiquiro” Martinez (20-0-2, 13 KOs) on January 31 at Viejas Casino & Resort in Alpine, California.

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Promoted by RJJ Boxing Promotions in association with Miguel Cotto Promotions, Palicte vs. Martinez will headline a card that will stream live on UFC FIGHT PASS®, starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, in the inaugural event of a new agreement between Palicte’s promoter, RJJ Boxing, and FIGHT PASS, to live stream up to 72 professional boxing events over the next three years.

The event will be held on the Thursday night of Super Bowl week, in the Oak Ballroom at Viejas Casino & Resort, which is located 35 miles outside of San Diego.

The winner of the Palicte vs. Martinez 12-round main event will become the mandatory challenger for new WBO junior bantamweight and four-division world champion, Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 24 KO). WBO No. 2 rated Palicte is promoted by Roy Jones Jr. Boxing, WBO No. 4 ranked Martinez by Miguel Cotto Promotions.

Last September, Palicte (WBO No. 2) fought a 12-round split draw with his fellow Filipino, Nietes, for the then vacant WBO Junior bantamweight championship.

The co-featured event is a rare six-round match-up of two undefeated prospects, Texas featherweight Edward “Kid” Vasquez (5-0) and San Diego’s Brandon “2 Smooth” Cruz (6-0, 4 KOs). Styles make fights and consummate boxer Vasquez vs. slugger Cruz has all the ingredients for a highly entertaining, competitive fight.

The FIGHT PASS opener pits local favorite Dilan “El Rey” Miranda (4-1, 3 KOs) versus Daniel Constantino (2-2-1, 1 KO), who is straight out of Compton (CA), in a scheduled six-round, junior featherweight bout.

Fighting on the off-streamed card in four-round fights are San Diego featherweight Jessica Juarez (1-0, 1 KO) vs. Kailyn Hansen (1-2), of Whittier, CA; Redlands, CA welterweight vs. David Morales (2-1-1), of Los Angeles; Los Angeles heavyweight Oscar Torres (3-0, 1 KO) vs. Ignacio Zambrano (2-4), of Torrance, CA.

All fights and fighters are subject to change.
Tickets are priced at $65.00, $55.00 and $45.00 and available to purchase by going online at www.viejas.com.

Doors open at 5 p.m. PT, first bout 5:30 p.m., FIGHT PASS starts at 7 p.m. PT (10 p.m. ET)

Revel Atlanta presents Atlanta Fight Club Super Brawl on Thursday, January 31, at Revel Night Club in West Midtown Atlanta.

Super Brawl is a VIP, star studded event with celebrities and athletes out to enjoy a night of fight action. Headlining the event is Atlanta’s hottest boxing prospect, knockout artist Deonte Brown, (4-0, 3 KO). Event coordinator Terri Moss is excited to work with promoters Terrance Clark and Tory Thomas of ACNY Promotions. “I’m looking forward to the venture with Terrance and Tory, and share their enthusiasm to continue to showcase boxing talent like Deonte Brown and other local prospects. Super Brawl is going to be an great evening, with hard hitting boxing fights, and an amazing, glamorous crowd ready to see some fight action!”

Appearing on Super Brawl are: super featherweights Deonte Brown, (4-0) and 37 fight veteran Matt Murphy, main event; super welterweights Antonio Todd, (3-0), and Martez Jackson,(4-3-2); middleweights Dushane Crooks, (12-1-0) and Elie Augustama, (6-10-0); featherweight Roxberg Patrick Riley, (13-1-0) and TBA; light heavyweights Demitri Bentley, (1-0) and Justin Lagrone; middleweights Sixto Suazo, pro debut and 39 fight veteran Clifford McPherson; lightweights Carltavious Jones Johnson, (3-1-0) and Leonardo Kenon, (3-5-0); cruiserweights Craig Parker, (2-0) and Billy Cunningham.

Tickets, tables and VIP seating available through the fighters, at the door or by visiting www.atlsuperbrawl.com.

Aston Palicte vs Jose Martinez

Aston Palicte vs Jose Martinez Live Stream Online Full Fight Boxing IN FREE HD TV Channel.New Year’s Eve bout: Nietes targets 4th world title vs Ioka.Filipino champion Donnie Nietes and Japanese Kazuto Ioka dispute the WBO super flyweight crown on December 31 in Macau.FIREWORKS. Expect an explosive duel as both Donnie Nietes (left) and Kazuto Ioka vow to return to their countries as champions. Photo by Alvin S. Go.

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MANILA, Philippines – Either Donnie Nietes or Kazuto Ioka will become a four-division world champion when they tangle for 12 rounds on New Year’s Eve, Monday, December 31, at Wynn Palace Cotai in Macau.

Up for grabs is the vacant World Boxing Organization super flyweight crown and both Nietes and Ioka are confident of returning to their respective countries hailed as heroes.

As proof of their hard work and intensive preparations, Nietes and Ioka made weight on their first tries at the scales Sunday afternoon.

Shedding 6 pounds in 6 days, Nietes checked in at an exact 115 pounds, while Ioka, two inches taller at 5-foot-5, stepped in a bit lighter at 114.5. (READ: Nietes vows to be more aggressive versus Ioka)

The 36-year-old Nietes, who already owns the distinction of being the longest reigning Filipino world boxing champion, aims to become the third most titled Filipino boxer after the great Manny Pacquiao (8 divisions) and Nonito Donaire (5 divisions).

The stake is even higher for the 29-year-old Ioka, who is bidding to become the first Japanese to rule 4 divisions.

Nietes could have clinched his fourth title last September, but was held to a split drawby compatriot Aston Palicte at the Forum in Inglewood, California last September. Unbeaten in his last 34 fights spanning 14 years, Nietes owns a 41-1-5 record with 23 knockouts.

Ioka, on the other hand, shrugged off an 18-month layoff to beat Puerto Rican McWilliams Arroyo in his last fight and raise his record to 23-1, 13 knockouts.

They have one common opponent in Argentine Juan Carlos Reveco, whom Nietes stopped in 7 rounds in February. Ioka bested Reveco by majority decision in their first collision before winning by 11th round knockout in their rematch, both in 2015.

The winner between Nietes and Ioka will battle the victor between Palicte (24-2-1, 20 KOs) and unbeaten Puerto Rican Jose Martinez (20-0, 13 KOs), who will figure in a WBO title eliminator at Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, California, on January 31.

Edito Villamor, Nietes’ chief trainer, believes Nietes stands a good chance of beating Ioka after undergoing sparring sessions with two fighters not belonging to the ALA stable. Rappler.com

Wales vs France

Wales vs France , Six Nations 2019: What time is kick-off tonight, what TV channel is it on and what is our prediction?France captain Guilhem Guirado and Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones come face to face tonight CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES .The 2019 Six Nations, and Rugby World Cup year as a whole, starts at the Stade de France as Les Bleus take on Warren Gatland’s Wales.

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Gatland believes his side, on a run of nine straight victories, can win the tournament if they prevail in this game.

What time is kick-off?

It starts at 8pm GMT, 9pm local time, on Friday, February 1 – ie tonight.

What TV channel is it on?

You can watch the game on BBC – and for live coverage of the match, we’ll be live blogging the score on the day.

Play our Telegraph Fantasy Rugby Six Nations game and be in with a chance of winning a £5,000 prize!

Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud has been left out of the France team for Friday’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Wales in Paris.

The experienced defensive linchpin makes way as Les Bleus head coach Jacques Brunel hands a Test debut to 19-year-old Toulouse centre Romain Ntamack alongside Wesley Fofana in midfield.

Ntamack is the son of former France wing Emile Ntamack, who made his Test debut against Wales 25 years ago and won 46 caps.

Ntamack has been a key figure behind Toulouse’s resurgence in the Top 14 and Heineken Champions Cup this term, helping them to secure a European quarter-final appointment with Racing 92 later this season.

Brunel has announced a team that also sees a call-up for another newcomer in Montpellier lock Paul Willemse.

Elsewhere, experienced Clermont Auvergne scrum-half Morgan Parra returns to the starting XV and he is partnered at half-back by his club colleague Camille Lopez.

There are also opportunities for the likes of Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard, Bordeaux-Begles prop Jefferson Poirot and Clermont flanker Arthur Iturria in a side skippered by hooker Guilhem Guirado.

France have not won the Six Nations title since 2010, while they arrive in this season’s tournament following a disappointing autumn campaign that saw them beaten by South Africa and Fiji.

Wales team news

Wales coach Warren Gatland has selected Tomas Williams at scrumhalf for Friday’s Six Nations opener against France in Paris, preferring the Cardiff Blues number nine to the more experienced Gareth Davies.

Williams made his Wales debut in June last year and has six caps, 30 fewer than Davies, who has only recently returned from a thigh injury and will take his place among the replacements.

Gatland opted instead to pair Williams with his Blues team mate Gareth Anscombe, who will start in the flyhalf berth at the Stade de France.

Ken Owens is set to make a 61st appearance that would make him the most capped hooker in Welsh history.

Josh Navidi is back from injury to start at flank in a back-row that also includes Justin Tipuric and number eight Ross Moriarty.

Alun Wyn-Jones will captain the side from lock in what is his 49th Six Nations appearance.

Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies continue their partnership at centre with Josh Adams, George North and Liam Williams making up the back three.

Leigh Halfpenny, Leon Brown, Rhys Patchell and Scott Williams were not considered due to injury.

“We come into the game on an impressive run of results but we know how tough it will be to face France in Paris in the tournament opener,” Gatland said in a media statement from Welsh Rugby.

“It will be a huge contest but we are excited going into it. We have a great deal of experience across the team and on the bench and we want to kick things off well on Friday.”

Wales finished runners-up in the Six Nations last year and are on a nine-match unbeaten run in what is Gatland’s final season with the side before he ends his 12-year tenure after the World Cup in Japan.

France 2019 Six Nations fixtures

  • France vs Wales…. Stade de France (Paris)…. Friday, February 1…. 8pm GMT…. BBC
  • England vs France…. Twickenham (London)…. Sunday, February 10…. 3pm GMT…. ITV
  • France vs Scotland…. Stade de France (Paris)…. Saturday, February 23…. 2.15pm GMT…. BBC
  • Ireland vs France…. Aviva Stadium (Dublin)…. Sunday, March 10…. 3pm GMT…. ITV
  • Italy vs France…. Stadio Olimpico (Rome)…. Saturday, March 16…. 12.30pm GMT…. ITV

Wales 2019 Six Nations fixtures

  • France vs Wales…. Stade de France (Paris)…. Friday, February 1…. 8pm GMT…. BBC
  • Italy vs Wales…. Stadio Olimpico (Rome)…. Saturday, February 9…. 4.45pm GMT…. ITV
  • Wales vs England…. Principality Stadium (Cardiff)…. Saturday, February 23…. 4.45pm GMT…. BBC
  • England vs Italy…. Twickenham (London)…. Saturday, March 9…. 4.45pm GMT…. ITV
  • England vs Scotland…. Twickenham (London)…. Saturday, March 16…. 5pm GMT…. ITV

Find out more about the Six Nations 2019 fixtures.

What happened in this fixture in 2018?

An error-strewn, disjointed encounter in Cardiff was eventually won 14-13 by Wales. A try from Liam Williams and three Halfpenny penalties proved enough.

What are they saying?

French federation president Bernard Laporte:

“It is a great year for French rugby. I am very excited. I wouldn’t say reassured, I wouldn’t say worried, but excited”

“When you look at the results [in 2018], you see they lost in the last second against Ireland and South Africa. It is true that they also lost to Fiji and it was deserved but they also beat Argentina and England. I’m not saying France are the best but they are not far from the best.

“That is why this Six Nations is exciting and crucial. Either we play a good championship and we go to the World Cup with some certainty, or we play a bad championship and the group will be eaten up by doubts.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland:

“We’ve got a great chance of winning the Six Nations, if we win that opening game.”

“That first game is going to be our toughest, but if we can get a win I think we’ll have a good tournament and the whole thing about Six Nations is momentum.

“We feel like we’re in as good a position as anybody to do well.”

What is our prediction?

Gatland is on a mission to sign off in style and his players will be buoyed by that swagger. Wales are on a roll, and should have enough to squeeze through this tough first game. However, France will put up a fight. Predicted score: France 19 Wales 23

France vs Wales

France vs Wales Live Stream Online FREE HD TV Channel IN USA, UK. Six Nations 2019 TV channel and live stream info.The Six Nations 2019 gets underway with a mouth-watering match-up in Paris tonight.France and Wales will kick-off the Six Nations 2019 tonight, with both sides looking for a successful start to their campaigns.France haven’t won the competition since 2010, while Wales haven’t tasted Six Nations glory since 2012.

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Entering a World Cup year, both sides are desperate for a confidence-boosting campaign and a win in the opening round of fixtures would be the perfect start.

A defeat in the opening game instantly puts teams on the backfoot and makes winning the competition almost impossible.

Travelling to Paris is notoriously tough, but Wales have won their last nine games, a run dating back to the Six Nations last year, and they’ll have high hopes of a winning start.

Here is everything you need know ahead of the big game.

When is the game?

France and Wales play on Friday 1st February.

Kick off is at 8pm.

Where is the game being played?

The game is being played at the Stade de France in Paris. It has a capacity of 80,698, making it the eighth-largest stadium in Europe.

Is the game on TV and can it be live streamed?

The match is live on BBC One, with coverage starting from 7.25pm.

If you have a TV license, you can watch online via the BBC iPlayer website or app.

Team news

For Wales, scrum-half Tomos Williams will make his Six Nations debut, while prop Rob Evans replaces Nicky Smith and flanker Josh Navidi comes in for the injured Ellis Jenkins.

France, meanwhile, give a Test debut to 19-year-old centre Romain Ntamack, the son of former France wing Emile Ntamack.

Guinness 6 Nations

Guinness 6 Nations Championship to use AWS Analytics, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning Technologies to Revolutionize the Rugby Viewing Experience.an Amazon.com (News – Alert) company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced that the Guinness Six Nations Championship has selected AWS analytics, machine learning, and deep learning services to deliver more in-depth insight into the Championship and enhance the match experience for rugby fans around the world.

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As well as providing the technology behind the live broadcast of on-screen match data and statistics, AWS will also power other aspects of the Six Nations Championship across the official website. In doing so, AWS will become the official technology provider of the Six Nations.

For years, rugby has embraced new technologies to continually evolve the game. It was one of the first sports to introduce a video match official, and now with AWS, Six Nations plan on bringing a number of other technological firsts to the sport, including using predictive analytics for the first time. For the 2019 Six Nations Championship, seven new kinds of statistics will be launched that are significantly more dynamic than those featured in previous broadcasts. New statistics will look at scrum analysis, play patterns, try origins, team trends, ruck analysis, tackle analysis, and field position analysis.

Through the use of advanced AWS technology it will be possible to predict the success of a scrum through the analysis of pack weights, player experience, and historical data as well as give a complete analysis of the ruck. This will analyze speed, cleanouts, steals, infringements, and time spent in the ruck to show the relative dominance of teams in the most important areas of the game. The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology from AWS will drive new insights into the game and will set the standard for what rugby fans around the world expect from their sports broadcasters. These new statistics will be generated by gathering live data fom the game, streaming them into AWS to store and do analytics, and then delivering these insights back to the live broadcast for viewers in over 170 countries to enjoy.

“I am excited to welcome AWS to the Six Nations family,” said Ben Morel, CEO, Six Nations Rugby. “With AWS now powering the Championship, we have the opportunity to place unparalleled innovation at the core of our rugby experience, for fans around the world. This is a major boost for our Championship and a clear signal of our ambition to embrace innovation in all areas that will benefit our fans.”

“We are delighted to be working alongside one of the world’s most storied, most iconic, and most respected sporting events,” said Andy Isherwood, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, AWS. “Throughout this year’s Championship, and into future seasons, the Six Nations team will be able to develop new, advanced statistics that give unprecedented insight and understanding to the game. As we continue to add greater capabilities to our Machine Learning services, we will bring these to rugby fans, around the world.”

About Amazon Web Services (News – Alert)

For almost 13 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 165 fully featured services for compute, storage, databases, networking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), mobile, security, hybrid, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, and application development, deployment, and management from 60 Availability Zones (AZs) within 20 geographic regions, spanning the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden, and the UK. AWS services are trusted by millions of active customers around the world-including the fastest-growing startups, largest enterprises, and leading government agencies-to power their infrastructure, make them more agile, and lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit aws.amazon.com.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, and long-term thinking. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit amazon.com/about and follow @AmazonNews.

Guinness Six Nations

Guinness Six Nations Championship to use AWS Analytics, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning Technologies to Revolutionize the Rugby Viewing ExperienceSix Nations Preview: Tough road ahead as Ireland bid to retain title.In some ways the 2019 Guinness Six Nations offers Joe Schmidt a shot to nothing.After three titles in five seasons, including just a third ever Grand Slam, Schmidt’s place as the best coach the team has ever had is secure.If that wasn’t enough, a first-ever away win in South Africa, a series win in Australia and the double over New Zealand means his place in the pantheon will never be questioned.

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But, in the words of Donal Lenihan, the 2015 World Cup still “haunts” Schmidt.The 2014 and 2015 Six Nations champions’ squad depth was exposed by Argentina in the quarter-final and could not cope without front-line players like Paul O’Connell, Johnny Sexton and Sean O’Brien.

One can easily imagine that Schmidt vowed not to let that scenario play out again.

Ireland’s dramatic and glorious Grand Slam win last season now allows the New Zealander, who will depart for home shores after the World Cup, the leeway to build a squad to do something unprecedented in Japan, that being to get into a semi-final for the first time, or even achieve something better.

While the cliches about respect for the championship – now in its 136th year – will be rolled out and sincere, there is little doubt that Schmidt now has the tools at his disposal to be big in Japan.

There won’t be any great risks – that’s not his way – but tools must be prepared, sharpened.

The first glimpse of what that looks like in action is the selection of Robbie Henshaw at full-back for tomorrow’s game against England.

One of only two Irish players with two Grand Slams, Kearney is considered to be “a bit rusty” but it’s still a surprise that his Leinster team-mate will win just his second cap at full-back against England.

We’ll learn more about how far Schmidt will go in testing the depth of the squad when the side for Italy is named.

Joey Carbery, who moved to Munster in the summer to get game time at out-half, has only started once ahead of Sexton in a match of significance, against Australia in the first Test last year.

The question of whether or not the 23-year-old can take charge in a high-pressure international game has not been explored. It may be in Rome.

FULL LIST OF 2019 SIX NATIONS FIXTURES

Ireland have four warm-up games before the World Cup but as far as real Tests go, the five games between now and 24 March are the last remaining window to road-test the squad.

The other side of that coin is the value of building an ‘always-be-winning’ mentality, as England did in 2003, the year they became the only northern hemisphere side to win the World Cup.

All that just means that Schmidt’s team selections over the next seven weeks will be closely monitored, more so when all report fit and ready for duty.

None of the nine teams to have claimed a Grand Slam since France in 1997 have managed to repeat the feat the following year. As terrible a cliche as it is, the holders have a target on their back: everyone loves to have a shot at the champ.

However he avoids dealing with questions about expectations, there can be no dodging how hard it will be to deliver another title.

Ireland might be forward-looking but you can bet your bottom dollar that Eddie Jones will be using the manner of last March’s defeat in Twickenham to motivate his troops.

It was arguably the best performance of the Schmidt era and England were completely overrun in the first half in front of their own fans. Expect that frustration to be used to effect in Dublin tomorrow afternoon.

The visitors – who had a 17-game winning streak ended the last time they were in town – won just six of 12 games last season and are hampered by injuries to Ben Te’o and Brad Shields.

“We never think we’re not better than the opposition,” said Jones, who has plans of his own to win a third Six Nations title.

Scotland, Ireland’s second opponents, come into the tournament boosted by the fortunes of their two club sides, who both made the last eight of the Heineken Champions Cup.

“Cohesion is very important in international rugby. 70-75% of our players come from Glasgow and Edinburgh so we are going to aim to build on what they are doing well,” said Gregor Townsend, whose injury-hit team host Italy tomorrow.

Ireland never take the Scots lightly but regularly come a cropper in Murrayfield. Last year Ireland won by 20 points in Dublin but the visitors butchered at least two excellent chances to forge a lead. That can’t be forgotten.

Conor O’Shea is at pains to point out that the Italian job is a work in progress and that is most evident in how Treviso are doing in the Pro14.

As far as the French go, Bernard Jackman reckons that they are building a team for the World Cup in 2023. They have named a squad with five uncapped players for the Six Nations but what awaits Ireland in week four is anyone’s guess.

Many are predicting that the championship could come down to the Wales v Ireland game on 16 March.

Warren Gatland’s side are on a nine-game winning run.

The former Ireland boss, who also leaves his job after the World Cup, said: “If we can win that first game in Paris, it will give us a really good chance of winning the Six Nations.”

Coaches don’t usually speak like that in public so at the least it’s refreshing to hear.

This year’s competition involves three of the world’s top four teams and the November internationals saw northern hemisphere wins over New Zealand, South African, Australia and Argentina.

“I do think that all the teams are incredibly close,” said Schmidt of this year’s competition.

“And I know that we might be two, [Wales] are three, England are four and we could even finish like that with France on top or Scotland and Italy.”

Follow Ireland v England (4.45pm) via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, or listen to live national radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1’s Saturday Sport

Six Nations Rugby

Six Nations 2019: Ireland juggernaut will take some stopping.19 2:02pm ESTRugby Union, RBS Six Nations, News, English, Ireland, Internationals, Features, TestIreland starts the Six Nations as the favorite after a Grand Slam last year and could make a huge statement ahead of the World Cup.

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The last time Ireland hosted England it was on a mission to stop a world-record-tying run, but it will be Eddie Jones’ men coming up against a juggernaut on Saturday.

England arrived in Dublin two years ago with Six Nations titles already in the bag, but was denied back-to-back Grand Slams and a record 19th consecutive victory.

Joe Schmidt’s side has gone from strength to strength since bringing England back down to earth with a 13-9 win in 2017 and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style last March by ending a nine-year wait for a Grand Slam at Twickenham.

There was also a first Test series win in Australia in 39 years in June and a sensational first home triumph over world champion New Zealand.

With meticulous attention to detail, Schmidt has turned Ireland into a huge force and the side will be expected to mount a strong challenge at the Rugby World Cup in Japan in September before the end of his reign.

But first things first, the wily New Zealander’s immediate sights are firmly on back-to-back Six Nations titles and his team looks well-equipped to make a huge statement by pulling off another clean sweep.

Ireland has lost just once in 19 matches – against Australia last June – and although Jones said the champions have weaknesses to exploit, that will be easier said than done.

The England head coach said he is expecting a “fairly predictable, methodical game” with “a few surprises” from Ireland, but he knows full well that the holders continue to evolve and will take some stopping.

While rapid line speed, a dominant set-piece and a ruthless approach at the breakdown continue to lay the foundations, Schmidt’s side has plenty of X-factor to hurt any opponent.

Jacob Stockdale was the player of the tournament and leading try-scorer in the Six Nations last year, while Schmidt has such strength in depth that he is able to unleash the likes of Jordan Larmour from the bench.

Losing second-rows Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne for the start of the campaign is a blow, but James Ryan and Devin Toner are a formidable pairing.

Ireland now has the World Rugby Player of the Year in Johnny Sexton and, even if he is absent, Joey Carbery can slot in seamlessly.

Three Irish provinces qualified for the quarterfinals of the European Rugby Champions Cup and the national team will be expected to carry on where it left off in 2018 when it faces England in a blockbuster showdown.

And it would be no surprise to see more raucous Grand Slam celebrations in Cardiff on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, when Ireland finishes its campaign with what could be a decisive clash against Wales.

Six Nations 2019

Six Nations 2019 could be one for the ages.DUBLIN, Ireland — Whatever materialises over the next five rounds of this year’s high octane, northern hemisphere rugby razzmatazz, there is one guarantee; you will not, to paraphrase England assistant coach John Mitchell, be bored by this year’s Six Nations.

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This marks the start of the sport’s biggest year, with the Rugby World Cup hovering later in the calendar. Omens will be looked for; lines ready between to determine who will head into the World Cup with a bounce in their step fresh from their Six Nations exploits. But, for five weekends, forget the World Cup (and Brexit) and enjoy this unique smorgasbord of inter-European rivalry.

Mitchell ramped up the stakes ahead of England’s championship opener against Ireland by predicting Joe Schmidt’s side would try and “bore the s— out of us”. Of course, it was utter nonsense. Ireland’s tag as favourites is not due to boring the opposition into submission — they aren’t that person you know who answers everything with ‘uh huh’ — but because of their multi-layered, adaptable, risk-reward style of rugby which saw them last year win the Grand Slam and beat the All Blacks. Not a bad 2018 at all.

Schmidt’s Ireland are the benchmark. But again, as is the annual occurrence, there is this irritating white noise around the tournament. There seems to be a constant need in the corridors of power to snipe away at this championship on an annual basis in a mosquito-esque fashion.

Ignore those noises. For one moment, just pause and enjoy it. Schmidt labelled it “historically…the biggest championship” and noted how it was the “financial lifeblood of Irish rugby”, pointing to how it has been around long before the World Cup became a thing. Eddie Jones spoke animatedly in the build-up to this year’s championship over how, from the southern hemisphere, he had read and read about how the Six Nations was rugby’s greatest tournament. He used to doubt those bold assertions, but in his fourth edition, he now sees the logic behind the bold minkers.

Again the week running up to the tournament saw stories around promotion-relegation being mooted by blazers, this time in Los Angeles at World Rugby’s latest summit. The tournament, in this new pipedream, would be shoehorned into a new global annual competition called the League of Nations. It is worth so much more than being a sideshow — no wonder there is a growing feeling of angst and uncertainty from some corners in the international game over the strength of leadership in rugby’s corridors of power.

Closer to home, there are also concerns over the consistency of on-field decision-making and quality of referees in the championship. Jones spoke at the Six Nations launch over how the breakdown is policed differently from referee to referee and other figures are worried over how perceptions from officials change, erratically, from week to week. The coaches are preparing for this.

But still, any off-field concern will not detract from the on-field spectacle. The Six Nations is rugby’s only tournament where pubs blend into mosaics of rugby aficionados standing pint-to-pint with those February-to-March-viewers of the sport. Whether you are someone who has a deep affinity for the game, or idle curiosity, you will be treated to sensational individual and team sporting prowess.

The opening weekend begins with France against Wales in Paris and with that signals the beginning of the end for Schmidt, Warren Gatland and potentially Jones.

This will be Schmidt and Gatland’s final Six Nations with Ireland and Wales respectively as after the World Cup they will hop over the international dateline, back to New Zealand, and leave an indelible mark on this competition. Both will leave as Grand Slam-winners, but also having endured the mental strain of managing public expectation and constantly tweaking and evolving their teams.

Then there’s Jones. He is officially contracted until 2021 with England, but win the World Cup and he may decide watching cricket on the beach in Barbados is more attractive. Do not for one second rule out never seeing the trio again in the northern hemisphere’s premier competition, but enjoy them while they are here.

Gatland has boldly predicted that if Wales beat France on Friday evening his team will go on and win the championship. Wales have taken a stride forward over the last year and are bubbling nicely as Gatland gears up for one final throw of the dice in this championship. For France, well, God only knows. They will no doubt oscillate from the sublime to the ridiculous to the exhilarating to the infuriating.

Though there are four rounds following, the opening weekend of the Six Nations can steer the narrative for the rest of the tournament. Take Ireland; their three Six Nations titles under Schmidt coincided with winning their opening match — the other two campaigns under the Kiwi opened with defeats and ended without silverware.

“I think the championship is incredibly special,” Schmidt said. “I think it’s a mix of exhilaration, excitement, anxiety, trepidation, you know, you could throw a whole lot of almost paradoxical phrases in about how I see the first round of the championship.”

The opening game also signals Romain Ntamack’s first Test rugby foray as he steps out of his illustrious father Emile’s shadow. And Saturday’s first match of the double-header offers Gavin’s son Adam Hastings the same if he gets his chance from the bench against Italy — suddenly those wrinkles on your face are far more prominent after seeing sons of Technicolor greats make their Six Nations debuts.

Scotland are enjoying an ongoing, entertaining evolution under Gregor Townsend and will go into the competition with high expectations. They have a talented, multi-dimensional squad but do not for one minute underestimate the Italy side lying in wait on Saturday. They are far more advanced from those days as plucky underdogs, they are more than just a team of 14 players and Sergio Parisse and deserve to be treated as equals, rather than being patronised and symbiotically linked to the relegation debate.

After Murrayfield, the attention shifts to Dublin for Ireland-England. The hills above Aviva Stadium are covered in snow but in this clash of ice and fire, a white walker could stroll down to the ground and no one would bat an eyelid. These are blink-and-you’ll-miss-it matches, the type where your eyes become involuntarily dehydrated, that are made for edge-of-your-seat players like Jacob Stockdale and Manu Tuilagi. It is also a happy hunting ground for your masters of larceny like Josh van der Flier and Tom Curry. And it is a baptism of fire for Robbie Henshaw and Elliot Daly who start for their respective countries in unfamiliar territory at fullback. There will be little offered, but it will put the full stop on an opening weekend that will give a sign of what’s to come over the next four weekends. Throw Wales into the mixing pot and these are your three pretenders for the Six Nations throne.

Schmidt was expecting Jones to throw grenades in the build up to Saturday’s match, but both know this tournament needs no added hype. So for five weekends ignore the awaiting World Cup, rise above any TMO controversy or inconsistencies in decision-making and watch the protagonists take centre stage. Pack out the streets of Paris, Rome, Edinburgh, Dublin, London and Cardiff, sing the anthems and enjoy it. It will not disappoint.