PREVIEW: North by far youngest to earn 50th Test cap in rugby

RUGBY – Wales have named George North in their starting XV to face France in the teams’ Six Nations Championship encounter in Paris on Saturday. For North, it will be his 50 Test appearance, making him by far the youngest player in Test history to reach the half century. He beats the former mark held by Australia’s Joe Roff by more than a year.

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RECORD – Cotterill scores earliest goal by sub

FOOTBALL – David Cotterill scored the earliest goal ever as a substitute in a Euro qualifier in Wales’ match against Cyprus. David Cotterill came on the pitch in the sixth minute and scored the opener for Wales in the 13th minute. This was the earliest goal ever by a substitute in a Euro qualifier. The previous record was in the hands of fellow countryman Peter Anthony O’Sullivan who scored in the 20th minute in Wales’ match against Malta on 25 October 1979.

ANALYSE THIS: Overwhelming favourites in Groups A to D

FOOTBALL: Euro 2016 qualification begins this weekend and two of the top seeded teams in the draw, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Italy, are not the favourites to win their groups according to the Infostrada Sports’ National Team Ranking. Six of the nine groups have an overwhelming favourite to be group winner and only one of the groups looks truly competitive at this stage. We begin our assessment of the groups by looking at A to D.

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BIRTHDAY – 8 July: Neil Jenkins (Rugby Union)

RUGBY UNION – Neil Jenkins is 41 years old today. Jenkins, a former Wales international Rugby Union player amassed 87 caps for Wales and scored 1,049 points. He was the first player to score 1,000 points in Test matches. Since then, he has been overtaken only by New Zealand’s Dan Carter and England’s Jonny Wilkinson. Jenkins retired in 2004 but stayed on with the team as a part of the coaching staff.

Shares birthday with: John D. Rockefeller, Kevin Bacon, Beck

ON THIS DAY – 2005, Wales complete Grand Slam (1)

RUGBY UNION – We presume that by now, even in Cardiff, the party will have subsided. Wales are proud winners of the 2012 Six Nations and have done so in Grand Slam fashion. It was their 11th Grand Slam and the third in the Six Nations era (2000-present). Their first: 19 March 2005. We once again congratulate them. 2012 has been established as ‘The Year Of The Dragon’.

REVIEW: Wales complete Six Nations Grand Slam

RUGBY UNION – Wales defeated France to make it five wins from five matches in the 2012 Six Nations. It is their third Grand Slam in the history of the Six Nations and their 11th overall Slam in the competition, following 2005 and 2008.

Warren Gatland became one of six coaches to have won two Grand Slams and he is the first coach from the southern hemisphere to accomplish the feat. The six are:

1976, 1978 – John Dawes (Wales)

1981, 1987 – Jacques Fouroux (France)

1991, 1992 – Geoff Cooke (England)

1997, 1998 – Jean-Claude Skrela (France)

2002, 2004 – Bernard Laporte (France)

2008, 2012 – Warren Gatland (Wales)

For Wales, it was their 11th overall Grand Slam. This is where they rank:

12 – England

11 – Wales

9 – France

3 – Scotland

2 – Ireland

0 – Italy