Stand by for Six Nations matches on Fridays


Last updated at 12:51 25 January 2008

The Six Nations' rugby championship is to break with more than a century of

tradition and stage its first Friday night international.

France and Wales will make history at the

Stade de France in Paris on Friday, February

27 next year with a 9pm kick-off local time

— the first game to be played on a weekday

since the launch of the world's oldest

annual international tournament in 1883.

stade de france

Traditionalists already concerned at the

gradual increase in Sunday fixtures will see

the Friday fixture as further evidence of

the schedule being altered to suit the

demands of television at the expense of the

paying customers.

Sunday matches have become a regular

but unpopular part of the tournament since

the first 10 years ago — Scotland-England at Murrayfield. Despite protests from fans, Sunday fixtures increased to three last year and three more will be staged this year.

After two years of resisting the Friday night proposal, the Six Nations committee bowed to television pressure. France and Wales are understood to have approved the switch and the match is due to be announced officially next month. One Friday fixture per season is planned, with Cardiff's Millennium Stadium the next one in 2010.

A Six Nations spokesman said: 'We are looking at every aspect of promoting the championship. Friday night is an option instead of a Sunday and several big Friday night matches in Paris certainly worked during the World Cup.'

The All Blacks will be guaranteed £1million as their share of a £5m-plus gate at Twickenham for their November 29 game against England. The Barbarians will play Australia at Wembley on December 6, the first rugby match at the new stadium.

Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery will miss the entire Six Nations because of an eight-week ban for stamping on France flanker Julien Bonnaire during Munster's European Cup win over Clermont Auvergne a fortnight ago. Flannery, found guilty last night by a three-man independent tribunal, has three days in which to appeal from notification of the ban.

Clermont Auvergne's Marius Joubert and Elvis Vermeulen have been cited over alleged gouging of Llanelli's Gavin Thomas.

Wales fly half Stephen Jones on Thursday signed for three more years at Llanelli on the day the Welsh RU agreed to prefer

players who play in Wales for international duty.