The Breakdown: A statistical look at round one of the Six Nations


Bundee Aki has been named in the Irish starting XV for their opening game in the 2018 Six Nations against France next Saturday (3rd February, Stade de France, 4.45pm).

Only the front row remains untouched, a rare stability in a team lacking confidence and which has not won the tournament since 2010. No matter how much you've prepared yourself, even if you've been here before, for any player to step out into that stadium and the noise generated, I wouldn't say it's a shock, but it's a hugely motivating factor. The back-three, we've gone for a mix of youth and experience in Jacob, Keith and Rob, and I think that's probably a pretty good balance for us. "The Top 14 is similar to the Premier League in soccer in England, great for money and great for the supporters but bad for our national team". "There is no reason for him not to start", Brunel, who took over from Guy Noves after a dismal series of worldwide tests last November, told a news conference on Thursday.

"He is mature enough even if the Irish are going to take care of him", Brunel joked.

Noves has also selected four uncapped players among his reserves, in what is likely to be a stern test for a France team in transition.

Machenaud, who has a 94 percent kicking rate this season, will kick the conversions and penalties, said Brunel.

Kurdish footballer barred from playing in Turkey
Two people were hospitalized after the attack and one, 17-year-old Fatma Avlar, died from her wounds, the agency said. The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on worldwide law, U.N.

Speaking to Dave McIntyre on tonight's Off the Ball ahead of France hosting Ireland on Saturday, the 69-times capped winger expressed his belief that Ireland's provincial system has helped them improve in recent years, and he's hopeful that reforms made to French rugby will enable them to re-climb the ladder.

Williams has played for Ireland before but not at this level.

"We've chosen him there because he has a bit more assurance, a bit more experience at worldwide level than Marco Tauleigne", Brunel said, adding that he will use Tauleigne's "power" during the course of the match.

L'Equipe and Midi Olympique are hoping for the best - talking up young outhalf Matthieu Jalibert and No.8 Kevin Gourdon - but they are wary of Ireland's settled team packed with players who showed their best in the November internationals and in the Champions Cup.