Six Nations 2011 Fixtures
(all kick off times local to where the match is being played)
Friday, February 4
Wales v England, Millennium Stadium, 19:45
Saturday, February 5
Italy v Ireland, 15:30
France v Scotland, 18:00
Saturday, February 12
England v Italy, 14:30
Scotland v Wales, 17:00
Sunday, February 13
Ireland v France 15:00
Saturday, February 26
Italy v Wales, 15:30
England v France, 17:00
Sunday, February 27
Scotland v Ireland, 15:00
Saturday, March 12
Italy v France, 15:30
Wales v Ireland, 17:00
Sunday, March 13
England v Scotland, 15:00
Saturday, March 19
Scotland v Italy, 14:30
Ireland v England 17:00
France v Wales, 20:45
Wales and England will kick off the 2011 Six Nations with the Championship's latest Friday night fixture.
The fierce rivals will go head-to-head at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on February 4 in the Championship curtain-raiser. The following day, Italy will host Ireland in Rome before France welcome Scotland to Paris for the final fixture of the opening weekend.
France beat Wales 21-16 at the Stade de France in the first Friday night fixture in 2009 before accounting for the Welsh again 26-20 earlier this year in the return match. But the Wales v England clash will be the first time that the Championship has kicked off on a Friday night.
Championship matches were traditionally played on Saturdays before the introduction of Sunday fixtures in 1998 with England beating Scotland 34-20 at Murrayfield in the first Five Nations game staged on a Sunday.
The controversial move to introduce Friday night fixtures was made 11 years later despite protests from fans who complained the scheduling of matches on a week day did not allow time to travel to games after work. But Six Nations chiefs have been encouraged by large television viewing figures with the latest innovation seemingly here to stay.
Elsewhere, Ireland's first Championship outing at the redeveloped Lansdowne Road, which is to be known as the Aviva Stadium, will come on February 13 when they host Grand Slam champions France. Declan Kidney's men only have one other home game in next year's tournament and that is against England on the final weekend.
France, of course, completed their clean sweep with a hard-fought win over England in Paris but Les Bleus and Les Rosbifs will meet in round three next year, at Twickenham. The stand-out games on the penultimate weekend see Ireland return to Cardiff, the scene of their Grand Slam success, to take on Wales on the Saturday evening before England and Scotland compete for the Calcutta Cup in London the following day.
'Super Saturday' will feature the aforementioned meeting between Ireland and England, which is sandwiched in between Scotland's meeting with Italy in Rome and France's evening encounter with Wales in Paris.
Wales coach Warren Gatland hailed the Friday night opener against England as "fantastic" and urged the fans to embrace the occasion. "It's a fantastic draw, with the first game being England at home on a Friday night, which is exciting," he said. "We've had Friday night fixtures for a couple of years now but it's still an exciting new innovation for the tournament.
"As far as Friday nights are concerned, the players are used to them from the Magners League, so it will make no difference to us. It may take some time to settle in as far as supporters are concerned but, personally, I would find it quite exciting as you can make an evening of it at your local rugby club, make it a real occasion then have the weekend to play games or do other things. People are still getting used to it and there will be some objections but I think it's good for the tournament."