Ireland ran away with things at Murrayfield on Saturday, beating Scotland 40-10 to set them up to retain the Six Nations trophy and celebrate with their travelling fans just a few hours later. It was their first back-to-back Championship title win since 1949.
Powerhouse Sean O’Brien was in commanding form yet again, scoring two tries to add to those scored by Paul O’Connell and Jared Payne, who picked up his first for his newly adopted country. With the result, England couldn’t pull them in, despite a valiant effort against France.
O’Brien has since said that the squad have learned some valuable lessons in this campaign, with the loss to Wales last weekend something that ultimately will benefit them in the long run.
“Looking back now it might not have been the worst thing in the world,” said O’Brien.
“We know we can learn and move forward. That was the biggest thing to come out of last week; that we didn’t do our jobs correctly and we didn’t do what we did during the week. If we approach the game like we did, for instance, make sure everyone is going 100 miles an hour, we know we are never too far away.”
Brian O’Driscoll reiterated O’Brien’s thoughts, stating that a Grand Slam victory might have done more harm than good. “If we had won the Grand Slam, going into the World Cup, there would have been an absolutely insane amount of pressure on the boys.
“That being said, we’ve won the Six Nations and there’s still going to be that pressure and that level of expectation. We’re playing with a huge amount of confidence, we’ve got a very distinct understanding of what our strategy is and what our game plan is.
“Everyone’s singing off the same hymn sheet. If we can be fortunate with not losing too many players to injury I don’t see why we can’t find ourselves in a semi-final – all bets are off when you get to that point,” said the Ireland legend.
The victory at Murrayfield equal’s Ireland’s biggest ever winning margin over Scotland, which was 36-6 in 2003. Most importantly, it gave them enough of a buffer to not only overtake Wales, who were excellent against Italy, but also England, whose 55-35 win over France was in vain.
In the end, the points difference was as follows: Ireland +63, England +57 and Wales +53.