The British Media React To Ireland’s Six Nations Triumph

Champions.

Ireland are officially the 2018 Six Nations champions with a round to spare. Their win over Scotland, coupled with England’s failure to defeat France in Paris, means Joe Schmidt’s men cannot be caught no matter what happens in Twickenham next week.

No one can deny Ireland haven’t deserved their victory. They showed incredible courage and grit to defeat France with the final kick of the game on the opening day, before comfortably cruising to three consecutive bonus-point wins against Italy, Wales and Scotland.

England meanwhile have been a shadow of their former selves. They were lucky to beat Wales, well-beaten by Scotland, and looked to be completely lost against France yesterday. Eddie Jones has now lost back-to-back games for the first time as England head coach, and could very well taste defeat for a third consecutive time next weekend.

Here’s how the British media have reacted.

Welsh writer Stephen Jones, who isn’t exactly Ireland’s biggest fan, could do nothing but heap praise on the men in green in The Times, stating they “have looked to date a class above all the other teams.”

He also lamented England’s lack of a ‘rampaging’ forward like Tadhg Furlong.

Yesterday, where was the forward to really take it to France as Sebastien Vahaamahina and company took it to England? Where was the English equivalent of Tadhg Furlong, the Irishman who scrums like a tractor but who rampages around the field.

Tom Carry writing for The Telegraph says “Ireland are developing into a serious force.”

“This Ireland are developing into a serious force.”

“Schmidt is perennially touchy about the perception of his team as functional and lacking in flair; all power and no magic. And he is right to be. Ireland can win any number of ways. They are disciplined, solid at the set piece, brilliant at the breakdown, have arguably the best halfback pairing in the world, and carry plenty of threat out wide.”

“Ireland also have a growing strength in depth. By the end of the game Cronin and Keith Earls were the only two Ireland players on the pitch aged over 30, with 21 year-old James Ryan enjoying another huge game at lock.”

Writing for The Telegraph, Lions legend Ian McGeechan echoes Carry’s sentiment that  Ireland have evolved.

“Ireland have moved on tactically in the last 18 months. They can attack teams in a number of ways. They have continuity and experience in key areas – at half-back, at full-back, and a pack that has balanced combinations throughout. Impressively, a number of those players are very young, and it’s that mix of young and old which is so potent. The back row, in particular, has made their breakdown work so impressive. But it’s all over the pitch. When your third-choice 13 is Garry Ringrose, you know you are in pretty good nick. Ringrose was my man of the match.”

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio called England’s performance in Paris “chariots of dire.”

“If England don’t sort themselves out this week they will be on the end of a hiding from Ireland on Saturday. That is clear. Ireland have been head and shoulders above the other five nations in this campaign. Their clarity of thought and accuracy in deed is in stark contrast to what we saw from England in Paris.”

While Ireland are set to overtake England in the World Rankings tomorrow, Andy Bull of The Guardian says Ireland became the second best team in the world last March.

A year on from England’s 13-9 defeat by Ireland in Dublin, their first loss under Jones, that game seems to have been a clear watershed in the fortunes of both teams. It was the point when Ireland passed England to become the best team in Europe. Ireland are unbeaten in 11 Tests since and are now Six Nations champions. England are still faltering, looking for the sure footing they had before they tripped in that match. According to the world rankings, England are still second behind the All Blacks; the truth is Ireland overtook them last March.

In the Daily Mail (UK), Clive Woodward suggests Jones is about to face the most difficult period of his stewardship:

“England face a very difficult week. Eddie Jones’s honeymoon is over, he is about to experience the other side of being the England coach.

“The Six Nations is an unforgiving arena and they now face a rampant Ireland, gunning for the Grand Slam on St Patrick’s Day at Twickenham.

“Lose that, which is very possible, and, as defending champions, England will have finished with only two victories. That is poor and unacceptable, given the investment in the team and their huge advantage in playing numbers and strength in depth. Jones has huge credit in the bank but these will be tricky times.”

Roll on next week. It’s going to be an absolute cracker.