Ireland captain Rory Best expresses his pride after halting England’s record-equalling 18-match winning streak with a 13-9 victory in Dublin.
“Not many teams have a 90% record, but we have a pretty good average: Don Bradman had a zero in his final Test”.
Bradman, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, was dismissed for a duck in his last Test innings at the Oval in 1948 against England, leaving him with an average of 99.94.
“You’ve got to build pressure against a side like Ireland and the pressure was all on us”.
England had been urged by Jones to embrace the occasion, who stated “greatness” would accompany the prize of back-to-back Grand Slams, but it was a rattled team that trailed 10-3 at half-time. Due to Ireland’s pressure England struggled to win and maintain possession at crucial points in the match.
Ben Youngs has urged champions England to seize a once in a lifetime opportunity when they face Ireland in the finale to the 2017 RBS 6 Nations.
There were shades of the fearful, brain-dead England which crashed out of the 2015 World Cup on home soil in the group stage – an England we all thought was long gone.
Lost the captaincy to Alun Wyn Jones before the start of the tournament but focusing on his own game proved hugely beneficial.
But six years ago they arrived at Lansdowne Road just 80 minutes away from a Six Nations clean sweep only to suffer a chastening 24-8 defeat. “It is going to be interesting for us playing Argentina at full strength”, said coach Eddie Jones.
England were already assured of this year’s title but Ireland’s win denies Eddie Jones’ side successive back-to-back grand slam titles and the chance of setting a new record of 19 successive Test victories.
Schmidt is pleased with much of Ireland’s approach but now faces into perhaps his greatest frustration as national team coach – losing his players until the June tour of the USA and Japan.
“I think if you look at some of the people who toured in South Africa, they are incredibly important to us now”.
“New Zealand, as Ireland have shown, are there for the taking”, the Australian added in a reference to Ireland’s 40-29 win in Chicago in November that stopped the All Blacks’ run at 18 victories in a row.
It was only one season ago that Eddie Jones was questioning Johnny Sexton’s medical advice when he made a decision to play against England after a head knock in a match against France a week earlier.
“I see our motivation and desire to win the game as probably higher than Ireland’s because we have got so much to win”.
A more recognisable England side will play next at Twickenham on November 11 against the Pumas, although there remains the possibility that a fixture against New Zealand could be inserted a week earlier.