They did, of course, end that All Blacks run in Chicago past year – and they also denied England a Grand Slam on this ground in 2011.
England have already won the championship but they still have so much more to play for.
Ireland stunned New Zealand 40-29 in November, bringing an end to the All Blacks’ record 18-match winning streak, which England tied with their victory over Scotland. On Saturday evening they have a chance to show that potential has genuinely be fulfilled – it’s a brilliant mix of old heads and young shoulders.
So when former Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy, in an Irish Times column, published between the third and fourth rounds, said “England look a team under ever-increasing strain”, it was not a fanciful notion. The alarm bells are ringing.
The hosts had won their previous four fixtures and were aiming for their own clean sweep on St Patrick’s Day but, hours after England’s Under-20s had completed their own Grand Slam with a victory in Dublin, England’s women completed part two of what could be a Grand Slam hat-trick this weekend.
Image: Tadgh Furlong and others training in Carton house today.
“I feel pressure every game I play for Ireland and every game I play for Leinster”, he said.
Ireland’s kicking game is very strong, especially when Sexton is pulling the strings.
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Nobody, not even the RFU who chased Jones, could have envisaged such a dramatic upturn in fortunes, but it was refreshing nonetheless to hear England’s current incumbent in the build-up to the game against Ireland this week move away from the bombast of “scaling mountains” and “chasing history” to take a moment to mention his predecessor.
After losing three key balls in Cardiff, it is a curious call to remove the totem of your set-piece and not introduce a jumping back-row, and it makes Rory Best’s life all the more hard as he faces an English pack containing three second-rows.
“I think around halfback they will try and put Ford and Youngs under pressure”.
When Wales were enjoying their glory years in the 1970s, their stars often joked that if ever England, with all their wealth and playing numbers, got organised they would be risky. England’s bench is also a huge factor.
If Ireland have paid much attention to the messages coming out of Pennyhill Park this week, they’ve been keeping it well hidden.
“He said the last thing we want to do is use that as a negative thing and hold us back in any way, shape or form”. It all depends what mental state England are in. Another U20 Six Nations Championship win on Friday evening, following on from a third World Championship win past year, is testament to this.