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Six Nations 2013: venue guide

Six Nations venue guide: A look at the stadiums playing host to this year's Championship

By
Duncan Bech, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

12:10 GMT, 28 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:57 GMT, 1 February 2013

The Six Nations kicks off in February and ahead of the annual feast of rugby Sportsmail runs through the venues that will host this year's games.

TWICKENHAM – LONDON

A capacity of 82,000 identifies the home of England as the world's largest rugby-dedicated venue and the nation's second-largest stadium behind Wembley. When England are winning there are few more rousing places to be – witness the atmosphere against New Zealand last autumn for example – but long spells of quiet can often dampen the occasion. Travelling there can be hellish as the roads become gridlocked while the all-too-infrequent rail service can see trains become horribly overcrowded.

HQ: England's Twickenham Stadium in Surrey

STADE DE FRANCE – PARIS

Just pipped by Twickenham in capacity terms, the 81,338 seater Stade de France was built for the 1998 football World Cup and remains an impressive sight within the unwelcoming district of Saint-Denis, where it is inadvisable to linger after dark. Seasoned Les Bleus supporters still yearn for the more gladiatorial Parc des Princes, the previous home of French rugby, not least because of some poor results at the Stade de France.

General view of the Stade de France in St Denis,Paris.  Mandatory Credit: David Rogers /Allsport Z0111169

AVIVA STADIUM – DUBLIN

Ever since returning to their revamped home, Ireland have spoken of the need to turn Aviva Stadium into a fortress but it has proved an uncomfortable relationship so far after losing seven of their 13 games there. A superb, modern venue, the 51,700 ground is among the finest rugby stadia in the world and access is relatively painless partly thanks to the battalions of available taxis. The atmosphere can be eerily silent, however, and contrast markedly with the noise generated at Irish provincial games.

Aviva Stadium

STADIO OLIMPICO – ROME

Italian rugby has a new home while work continues on the Stadio Flaminio, with the 82,000 capacity Stadio Olimpico proving a superb addition to the list of Six Nations stadia. More traditionally known as the home of Lazio and Roma football clubs, it is one of Italy's most cherished sporting venues and was home to the 1960 Rome Olympics. A running track surrounds the pitch and this affects the atmosphere.

Stadio Olimpico

MURRAYFIELD – EDINBURGH

The declining fortunes of Scottish rugby are evident at Murrayfield, where a dwindling number of spectators turn out to watch a team that has suffered like no other amid the transition to professionalism. Located in the west of the Scottish capital, the superb 67,130 stadium is capable of generating some rousing atmospheres – if only those attending were given something to celebrate on a regular basis once again.

Murrayfield

MILLENNIUM STADIUM – CARDIFF

The finest rugby stadium in the world An argument could certainly be made for what many regard as the jewel in the Six Nations' crown. Brilliantly designed and situated in the heart of Cardiff, it is a spectacular centre-piece for Welsh rugby that can take noise levels to a new dimension. When Wales are firing, it becomes an inspiring venue. The only negative is the difficulty getting out of the city – by car or train – after a match.

Millennium Stadium

Six Nations 2012: Alex Corbisiero focused on England v Italy

Cobisiero puts studies to one side to focus on helping England beat Italy

England's history boy Alex Corbisiero is not part of the X-box generation, preferring his degree studies on the unification of Italy to computer games.

If Corbisiero has one vice it is a passion for WWE wrestling – but all his outside interests will be on hold this weekend as England prepare to face Italy in Rome.

The country holds a fascination for Corbisiero, whose great-grandfather moved from Naples to New York in the 1920s, but the museum visits will have to wait for another trip.

History boy: Alex Corbisiero runs with the ball during England training

History boy: Alex Corbisiero runs with the ball during England training

Almost a year to the day after making his Test debut against the Azzurri in England's title-winning 2011 RBS 6 Nations campaign, Corbisiero will lock horns once again with Martin Castrogiovanni.

'Italy is part of my heritage. I am fascinated by its history,' said Corbisiero, who is in the third year of his studies at Birkbeck College, University of London.

'History was always my favourite subject at school. Instead of sitting around playing PlayStation, studying for a degree is something where I can use my time properly.

'I am very intrigued with the history behind things, the way things have developed. You can see patterns in history repeating themselves.

'This is a lovely place to visit and I would love to look around Rome – but I will have to save that for a holiday.

'I have a job to do here this weekend and I am focusing on getting that job right.'

When in Rome: Hooker Dylan Hartley (left) runs through drills with team-mates

When in Rome: Hooker Dylan Hartley (left) runs through drills with team-mates

The Azzuri will be chasing a significant slice of rugby history – their first victory over England – when the two sides clash at a sold-out Stadio Flaminio.

There will be nothing stage managed, WWE-style, about Corbisiero's showdown with Castrogiovanni, the Leicester tighthead prop who epitomises the scrummaging strength of Italy's game.

'Castro is a tough test, a good scrummager he will put you under pressure. Any mistakes he will capitalise upon, he is a world-class tighthead,' Corbisiero said.

'I played against him last year (on my England debut) and it was pretty even. I have obviously had a tough time with him before but you learn from stuff like that.

'It is going to be a real battle this weekend, not just me personally but as a pack, we are going to have to step it up and give our team the platform we want to play from.'

Corbisiero was thrown in at the deep end last season, replacing Andrew Sheridan for the 59-13 victory over Italy with just 24 hours notice.

Cornered: Prop Matt Stevens runs with the ball during England training

Cornered: Prop Matt Stevens runs with the ball during England training

The American-born prop featured in four matches during England's first title-winning campaign in eight years, starting in three of them.

Corbisiero was picked for the World Cup but would have had every right to feel frustrated after being overlooked for Matt Stevens when Sheridan was injured again.

Stevens struggled in his less favoured loosehead position – but Corbisiero kept his counsel, one of three England players who refused to take part in the World Cup review process.

With Sheridan now all but retired from Test rugby, Corbisiero has reclaimed the No 1 England jersey and he is relishing the new environment under Stuart Lancaster.

Last week, he laid down a marker with an impressive all-round performance in England's 13-6 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

'It gives you good confidence to be picked,' Corbisiero said.

Team talk: The players huddle during the England training session

Team talk: The players huddle during the England training session

'I am very pleased that (scrum coach) Graham Rowntree has put his faith in me. I have definitely made progress (over the past 12 months since debut).

'Physically I am in much better shape, I am a better athlete and mentally I am more experienced, more confident at this level, more vocal and more aware of what is going on around the pitch.

'I am really enjoying the positive environment. Standards have been set very high on and of the field.

'Everyone has put their head down working hard, we have a new set of leaders and everyone is buying into what we are doing.

'The squad is building. Winning in Scotland it was great to show the determination. We will be trying to step it up.'