It all looked so good when Rob Kearney slashed through the English defense to slice home and score Ireland’s opening, and as it turned out, only try against England on Saturday. The Grand Slam looked on, and Irish eyes were smiling. Fast forward just a few minutes, and a couple of silly mistakes let England came back to win it on their home turf.
England are welcome to a tight win on their own soil. Ireland have nothing to prove to them. In the last 13 Ireland v England matches Ireland have won 8, a stupendous figure when you consider the size disparity between the two countries.
The fact is, in traveling to London and avoiding a heavy defeat, Ireland essentially won the Six Nations tournament.
Here’s the science. With Ireland, England, France and Wales tied at the top on 4 points, it would appear as if the Six Nations was anyone’s to win. Not so fast. If the teams do end up tied together in any shape or form come the end of the tournament, the deciding factor is points difference.
Ireland have a whopping positive difference of +42 points, England lag behind on +21, Wales +6 and France a decidedly pathetic +1.
Next week Ireland will beat Italy, and if they manage to do so while scoring a healthy chunk of points, their +42 will expand to the point where it simply can’t be caught. Meanwhile, Wales and England will be kicking lumps out of each other, meaning one of them will be basically eliminated come the final week of play. In the final weekend, Ireland face a French side that has frankly been one of the worst French sides in years. A disciplined display should be enough for the boys in green to wrap up the tournament. Effectively Ireland just have to hold serve, win their remaining two matches, and the tournament is theirs.
Concerned about a trip to Paris on the final weekend for the Irish?
If you recall, Brian O’Driscoll first came to the fore in a stunning display against the French. Would you honestly bet against one of the greatest Rugby Union players of all time going out with a bang in the same place as his astonishing career took flight?