Ireland’s Grand Slam winning victory in Dublin showed they know ‘how to win ugly’. Secured with tenacity and by taking advantage of the situation provided, to win by 29-16 on home soil.
This triumph will put them in a great position to enter the Rugby World Cup this Autumn, ranked as red-hot favourites.
GRAND SLAM CHAMPIONS! 🏆#TeamOfUs | #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/fp0n0jnUqT
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 18, 2023
The narrative was perfect for Andy Farrell’s men yesterday. A Grand Slam decider in Dublin, on St Patrick’s weekend, against England; it couldn’t have been written any better. The weight of expectation ahead of the game was huge, but they lived up to it and won when the pressure counted.
The previous win this Six Nations came by blowing away the opposition with fast, free-flowing rugby. This left many watching in awe at their brand of rugby but left many fans wondering if they could win another way.
England put them under pressure with aggressive defence and slowed the ball down at the ruck, making them unable to play their usual fast-paced game and resort to a more basic, forwards-based attack. The transition was almost seamless too.
They were able to turn to Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, and James Ryan to get their heads down and carry hard. They also utilised a strong lineout and maul to good effect.
READ MORE: Owen Farrell back in as England attempt to stop Ireland Rugby Grand Slam
The composure of Johnny Sexton and Jamison Gibson-Park was also crucial to the win. The temptation with these two could easily have been to go back to their traditional free-flowing style, but they kept it tight and put all the pressure on England.
They changed the system to play the team in front of them, rather than trying to force their usual style. This shows a true champion mindset. France was able to do this last year in their Grand Slam win, and Ireland’s win over England has done the same this year, and it’s come at the perfect time.
They showed they could win another way.
The result also showed they can win ugly and grind out a win. The game yesterday was by no means the prettiest game of rugby, nor the fastest, but what the game lacked in speed and flair it made up for in physicality. This was a huge marker for Ireland to lay down, especially when you consider they take on the Springboks in the pool stage.
What Ireland could be at the Rugby World Cup?
At a World Cup, and in particular the knockout rounds, grinding out an ugly win separates the best teams from the rest of the pack. They won’t be able to blow every team away and will need to just get over the line and progress in the tournament. Ireland yesterday showed they’re able to dig deep and grind out a result when it matters most, in a Grand Slam decider in Dublin, on St Patricks weekend, against England.
The first nation to win the Men’s and U20s Grand Slam titles in the same year! 🙌#TeamOfUs | #IrishRugby pic.twitter.com/j823rEIJPw
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 19, 2023
It might seem weird to argue why the team ranked number one in the world is the favourite to lift the trophy, but that’s not the premise here. The facts are, Ireland has never gotten past the quarter-finals at a Rugby World Cup. It’s the thing that has eluded them for so long. However, yesterday’s performance showed this could be the year that changes all that.
Several remaining Tests lay ahead against Italy, and another shot at England, sit on the pathway toward the tenth edition of the World Rugby pinnacle event. One worthy for Ireland’s Grand Slam win to be capped off by a another piece of history.
Ireland sits in Pool B for the 2023 Rugby World Cup – kicks off Saturday, Septembter 9 (vs Romania)
Photo Credit: Irish Rugby Facebook Page.