What to watch, where to go, who to bet on – your guide to the weekend’s sport

It’s Six Nations and National Football League opening weekend, as well as the Super Bowl

It’s the opening weekend of the RBS Six Nations. Photo: Reuters

It’s the opening weekend of the RBS Six Nations. Photo: Reuters

 

First off, what’s going on?

A lot. It’s the start of the Six Nations this weekend, along with a full programme of Premier League matches, the start of the National Football League, golf from Dubai and Arizona, racing from Fairyhouse and Punchestown, Munster’s Pro12 clash with Edinburgh and, to top it all off, Super Bowl LI.

And what are the biggest events taking place?

1. Premier League: Chelsea v Arsenal (Stamford Bridge, 12.30 on Saturday)

2. Six Nations: Scotland v Ireland (Murrayfield, 2.25 on Saturday)

3. Six Nations: England v France (Twickenham, 4.50 on Saturday)

4. National Football League: Cavan v Dublin (Kingspan Breffni Park, 2.0 on Sunday)

5. Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons (NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas, 11.30 on Sunday)

What are the TV highlights?

There’s a good mix of sporting action on the TV to keep you entertained this weekend. Below is the day-by-day highlights, but if you’d prefer to see more of the action available to you, you can do so with our sports television guide.

Friday

There’s early morning golf action from Dubai, including Tiger Woods in action at the Desert Classic. He’s going to need something special to make the cut after an opening round 77. Coverage starts at 7.30 on Sky Sports 4 with the 14-time major winner teeing off at 8.35 Irish time. You’ll also be able to catch Paul Dunne and Graeme McDowell who are both well-placed after round one.

It’s the Irish women’s team who get the weekend rugby action started when they take on Scotland in the Six Nations. Coverage on RTÉ2 starts at 6.30 with kick off at 6.35.

At 7.30 you can switch over to Sky Sports 2 if you’d prefer to watch some provincial action. Munster take on Edinburgh in the Scottish capital with kick off at 7.35.

The golf switches stateside at 8.0 where the party will be in full swing at the Waste Management Phoenix Open – particularly at the raucous 16th hole.

Pádraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Seámus Power are all in action in the Arizona desert with live coverage on Sky Sports 4.

Ireland’s under-20s take on their Scottish counterparts at 8.30 on RTÉ2 (after the women’s’s match) to round off the evening’s watching.

Saturday

After the Friday evening warm-up, things now start to get serious.

It’s early morning golf viewing to kick us off again with coverage from the Dubai Desert Classic getting underway on Sky Sports 4 at 8.30.

At 11.30 it’s time for football with Chelsea looking to increase their lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points when they take on an Arsenal side coming off the back of a disappointing loss to Watford. Sky Sports 1 is the place to watch with kick-off at 12.30.

At lunchtime it’s Six Nations time. Ireland’s clash with Scotland at Murrayfield is the opening game of the tournament, with coverage on RTÉ2 beginning at 1.30 (kick off: 2.25). If you’d prefer to tune into the UK’s national broadcaster, it’s BBC1 from 2.0.

RTÉ’s coverage will inevitably include a lot of long-running detailed analysis after the Ireland game before rolling into England v France at Twickenham (kick off: 4.50).

However, if you want more of a homely English-feel to your viewing of Eddie Jones team then you’ll have to switch over from BBC to UTV at 4.10.

The late Premier League kick off is between Spurs and Middlesbrough with coverage from 5.0 on BT Sport 1 (kick off: 5.30).

The PGA Tour golf from Arizona starts at the earlier time of 6.0 on Sky Sports 4 for third round action.

The, at 6.55, you have a GAA choice to make.

You can either tune into eirSport 1 for Laois v Louth, eirSport 2 HD for Mayo v Monaghan or eirSport 2 SD for Down v Fermanagh – all kick off at 7.0.

And to top the day off at 10.30 it’s Match of the Day on BBC1.

Sunday

The perfect way to spend a leisurely Sunday morning is surely watching some of the best golfers in the world battle it out for the Dubai Desert Classic title in blazing heat while looking out the window at the wind and rain of Ireland. You can do that from 8.0 on Sky Sports 4.

At 12.30 Super Sunday kicks off on Sky Sports 1 with Manchester City taking on Swansea (kick off: 1.30) before champions Leicester welcome Manchester United to the King Power Stadium at 4.0.

The final Six Nations match of the weekend sees Italy take on Wales in Rome (kick off: 1.30) with coverage on RTÉ2 beginning at 1.30 and on UTV at 1.0.

Dublin get their league title defence underway in Cavan at 2.0 with live coverage on TG4 from 1.30. Following that you can catch deferred coverage of Donegal v Kerry in Letterkenny.

The late night live viewing works out perfectly time-wise with the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open starting on Sky Sports 4 at 6.0 and finishing at 11.0.

That’s just in time to switch over to either Sky Sports 1 or BBC1 for the not-to-be-missed occasion that is the Super Bowl. The New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons in Houston with kickoff at 11.30 and taking you right through the night.

If you’d prefer to get some highlight action in you can watch all of the day’s National Football League matches on RTÉ2 from 9.30, followed by Match of the Day 2 on BBC1 at 10.30.

And what can I actually go to?

Limited tickets are still available for Murrayfield to see Ireland’s opening Six Nations game with Scotland. They’re priced at either £85 (€99) or £95 (€110) and are available here.

If you’re planning on staying in Ireland for the weekend there’s GAA and racing action to choose from.

A full programme of National Football League games starts on Saturday evening. All of the fixtures, tables and results can be found here.

Racing-wise it’s Fairyhouse on Saturday and Punchestown on Sunday.

At the Meath venue it’s Coolmore Race Day on Saturday with the co-features of the Grade 3 Coolmore Soldier of Fortune Mares Novice Hurdle worth €35,000 and the Listed Coolmore Champs Elysees European Breeders Fund Mares Flat race worth €40,000. Tickets are priced at just €12 and are available here.

On Sunday it’s the Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown where Big Zeb, Sizing Europe and Moscow Flyer are among previous winners. Tickets are €15 and available to buy here.

I feel like having a bet. Any recommendations?

With Ireland missing Johnny Sexton it might be worth having a dabble at Scotland. Vern Cotter’s side are 15/8 to cause an opening weekend shock and end Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes at the earliest possible juncture while the draw (which historically is a good bet to take a punt on in most Six Nations games) is 20/1.

Or how about an underdog double? Wales have looked well off the pace recently and Warren Gatland’s absence due to Lions commitments certainly hasn’t helped. Meanwhile, Conor O’Shea is beginning somewhat of a rugby revolution in Italy – shown by their win over South Africa last November. The draw in that game is tempting at 33/1 while Italy in a double with Scotland pays out just less than 16/1.

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