5 Talking Points Ahead Of This Weekend’s Huge England Vs Ireland Clash
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Once again the build-up to an England Vs Ireland match hasn’t failed to live up to expectations. We’ve had match official controversies, videos uncovered at the ‘perfect’ time, and plenty of back-and-forth in the media.
This weekend is going to be huge for both sides. England and Eddie Jones really need a win. A third straight defeat, and their first at home under Eddie Jones, would take an awful lot out of them. The media and fans will come down hard and it will be a tough road back.
Ireland meanwhile, probably won’t get a chance quite like this ever again. An opportunity to win a Grand Slam, against England, in their backyard, on Paddy’s Day. It’s the stuff of dreams. They’re certainly good enough, and couldn’t have picked a better time to play Jones’ men.
Here are five talking points ahead of the fixture.
The “scummy Irish”.
This won’t have affected the team in any way. Those that say it will give them even more reason are talking nonsense. Ireland don’t need any more reason than a Grand Slam to win this weekend. It will however, make for some brilliant headlines in the media if Ireland win. I can already see it. “Those scummy Irish have done it again.”
Marius van der Westhuizen.
The South African is an assistant this weekend, but has been a hot topic after England decided to bring him in to assist them in training. They haven’t broken an rules, but Ireland have admitted they were surprised by it. Teams cannot bring in a referee to assist them if he is set to take charge of an upcoming game, but there is now law against assistants. Expect this loophole to be closed by World Rugby in the coming months.
Eddie Jones rings the changes.
The England head coach has wielded the axe ahead of this weekend with no fewer than seven changes. Launchbury is dropped. Dan Coles is dropped. James Haskell starts. Is he panicking or will his decisions bear fruit? We’ll find out this weekend.
Tried and tested.
Joe Schmidt has decided to stick to his winning formula, making just one change. Iain Henderson starts ahead of Devin Toner, in an expected move, while the backline remains unchanged. Henderson was fantastic in the reverse fixture last year, and offers a more direct approach. His ball-carrying and power up front could be crucial.
The Grand Slam.
Once again a Six Nations Grand Slam is on the line this year. But this time the shoe is on the other foot. Ireland managed to spoil England’s party last year, but can they return the favour? The circumstances were a lot different last year. Ireland were unlucky in their games and played some good rugby, while England were perhaps a bit fortunate with their results. This year Ireland have been a dominant force, while Jones’ men have been poor. Regardless, it’s gonna be a close one, but my money is on Ireland to sneak it.