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England bear scars as Slam hopes go down the pan

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Bryn Palmer | 23:37 UK time, Saturday, 19 March 2011

Dublin

The distinctive shape of Ireland's shiny new Aviva Stadium has caused some locals to liken it to a bed-pan. England's Grand Slam hopes certainly disappeared down it at an alarming rate of knots.

Some of Martin Johnson's side managed to raise a smile as they were presented with England's first Six Nations trophy since 2003 in their hotel on Saturday evening, after Wales' defeat in Paris.

Once the dust has settled, that might be seen as adequate reward for their improvement over the last 12 months.

But as Shontayne Hape pointed out beforehand, Grand Slam deciders can be 'once in a lifetime' moments, and in this particular contest, England - in Johnson's words - "didn't land a shot".

Quite simply, they were nowhere near good enough. No area of their game stood up to scrutiny under the ferocious pressure applied by an Irish side desperate to show that they remain a force to be reckoned with.

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The hosts may reflect that they too could have been in the title mix on this final day of Six Nations hostilities, rather than just revelling in the role of party poopers. A fumbled chance when they looked like scoring late on against France before losing 25-22, a poor decision by the touch judge which proved pivotal in Cardiff a week ago...such are the margins in a tournament where the teams are so closely matched.

As the peerless Brian O'Driscoll, Ireland's victorious captain, put it: "That is why it is so hard to win a Slam. Four big performances in a row are not enough, particularly when you see what Italy are doing now as well. It is such a brilliant championship and it is a very, very good side that wins a Grand Slam."

England, not that it was very evident in this performance, are a good side, with the potential to be very good. But their inexperience of these occasions was ruthlessly exposed.

Ten of the visitors' starting XV here were 25 or under, and - deprived of injured captain Mike Tindall - they took the field with only 314 caps between them. Only four players - Mark Cueto, Toby Flood, James Haskell and Nick Easter - had 30 caps or more. Ireland's side boasted 622 caps at the outset, more than the last three World Cup-winning teams boasted going into those tournaments.

Not that Johnson was using that as an excuse, and rightly so. His players had shown themselves capable of much better over the past seven weeks.

England's troubles started as early as the second minute when Ireland pushed them back at the first scrum and won a penalty. They continued all the way through a "horrible" opening 40 minutes, and well into the second half.

If they were unfortunate to lose lock Tom Palmer - their main line-out target - to injury after 26 minutes, and scrum-half Ben Youngs could be considered unlucky to be sin-binned for throwing the ball away when there was little prospect of a quick Irish throw-in, it was hard to feel sympathy when the visitors invited so much misery on themselves.

In the opening 15 minutes, Ben Foden sliced a clearing kick, Toby Flood's kick-off didn't go 10m, Palmer dived in the side of a ruck. England won a scrum that was already on the move but in trying to keep the ball at the base, allowed Ireland to steal it. Chris Ashton was penalised for a high tackle.

And so it went on. Flood's poor pass landed at Hape's feet, Youngs - after breaking from a scrum - delayed his pass and was scragged by the evergreen David Wallace. At 9-0 down, Flood - given the chance to give England a foothold in the game - pulled a straightforward penalty wide.

The official stats showed there were 17 English errors in all, but it felt like more, such was their inability to execute their basic skills against an Irish team who had built up an unstoppable head of steam by the time Tommy Bowe scored their opening try just before the half-hour.

Even the most pessimistic red rose supporter cannot have envisaged that the game would be up after just 47 minutes. But when O'Driscoll showed his enduring predatory instincts to score a record 25th Championship try, there looked to be no way back for England from 24-3 down.

And so it proved, even with the gift of Steve Thompson's startling interception try six minutes later. When Jonny Wilkinson missed the subsequent conversion, Ireland must have known it was going to be their day.

England's players failed to make any real impact on an impressive Ireland side

The World Cup winner did bring a measure of order to the visitors' play for a while, bringing Matt Banahan into the game in attack as England built some phases, only for the umpteenth knock-on to end the move.

As the rain started to lash down and England were forced to initiate moves from their own half with a greasy ball, Ireland brought on Ronan O'Gara for man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton, and the old-stager kept England pinned back with some vintage kicks to the corners.

"The Fields of Athenry" - a welcome change from the infuriating drums the stadium PA belted out insistently while play was going on - rang around the stadium as a buoyant Irish crowd celebrated their first major victory at their new home.

"We wanted to set down a marker that we were back home," said O'Driscoll, who along with Bowe and the excellent Keith Earls, had a ball at England's expense.

So too a dominant Irish back row, with Wallace, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip in rampant form, thriving on the platform provided by a fired-up front five led by Paul O'Connell.

"He is vital to our side and he said some really important things this week which really hit home," O'Driscoll said of his fellow Lions captain. "He brought real intensity and passion to the pack."

While O'Connell and O'Driscoll are Ireland's totems, England do not yet have on-field leaders of similar stature. Their best players are mostly the younger generation, who have invigorated the team's fortunes but are patently not yet equipped to dig themselves out of the size of hole they found themselves in here.

Nevertheless, Johnson could take heart from the way flanker Tom Wood and prop Alex Corbisiero - the two finds of this campaign - were still hammering away in a losing cause right to the end.

"We have got a group of players who are only going to get better," Johnson said. "It is an exciting group and this doesn't change that.

"Do you have to get your scars and bruises in before you go and win something? You hope not, but maybe you do. This is a scar, and we have to wear it now for a little bit. We can make that a good thing or a bad thing."

As part of an England set-up that blew Slams in 1999, 2000 and 2001 - even if Johnson was absent on the latter two occasions - before finally completing one in 2003, the manager is well placed to ensure this chastening defeat becomes a force for good.

It may even help to manage expectations going into the World Cup later this year.

England were ranked fourth in the world before Saturday, but have now been leapfrogged by Ireland, which is a pretty good reflection of where both teams stand ahead of the global gathering. Reaching the quarter-finals is to be expected, even if both are in challenging groups; a semi-final would be a great achievement, the final fantastic. But when you consider England did that last time with nowhere near the stability and success of this group, there is no point in setting limits.

The omens are generally good for European champions going on to a World Cup. In the six previous editions, the Five/Six Nations champions from that year have reached three finals (France 1987, England 1991, England 2003), winning it once, and two semi-finals (England 1995, France 2007). Only Scotland, the final Five Nations champions in 1999, failed to progress beyond the last eight.

Competition to get into England's final 30-man World Cup squad will be intense, even if 24 or 25 must already be pencilled in. Johnson has only used 27 players in this campaign, and made only two enforced changes to his starting XV all tournament.

When England next convene for a match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on 29 May, ahead of three World Cup warm-up Tests in August, the likes of Courtney Lawes, Lewis Moody, Andrew Sheridan, Delon Armitage, Mike Tindall and Riki Flutey may all be in better shape to bolster the personnel on duty in Dublin.

But that is all for the future. For now, the scar of Dublin festers.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    i dont really follow rugby that much, but why is there so much negativity after this match. we won the title didnt we. ok a grand slam would have been great but we still won the 6 nations. last time we won the 6 nations we won the world cup, so it this squad must be decent, although not a patch on the 03 side. but it annoys me that as a nation we cant applaud the fact we've done well and insist on picking holes in everything.

  • Comment number 2.

    It is hard to imagine a more comprehensive defeat for England. They were beaten in every aspect of play, both physically and mentally. Full marks to Ireland.

    I had a bad feeling about this one during the week and told my gambling friend to put all his money on Ireland!

    Is this England team good enough to beat Ireland? Yes. However, it just goes to show how much sports at the top level is mental.

    Don't be too down on England though. Their 1991 and 2003 slam teams both lost crucial slam deciders bfore they finally won. You learn more by a loss than a win. Those teams finally got in right....this one will too as well. They will be better for the experience...and they still won the championship.

    For Ireland this Sean O'Brian looks a good player! Heck, they didn't miss Ferris, and that takes alot as he is arguably their best forward!

  • Comment number 3.

    From the very first scrum, England never recovered, I genuinely don't think they expected to be driven back to that extent at all. Flood missing his kick was all the proof you needed that despite Johnson's claims, his team was nervous and that affected the preformance levels.

    I'm not sure if England can take the Grand Slam next year as a trip to France awaits but lets see how they do in the World Cup first, they should top their pool and from there, as you say Bryn, a semi would be pretty good going. I think regardless of where we finish in our pool, assuming we see off Italy, on that form we'll beat Wales or South Africa.

    Oh and Bryn, hate to make it anyway worse but England's ranking has slipped from fourth to fifth, a win of 15+ for Ireland today was good enough to lift them above both France and England...

  • Comment number 4.

    I have to agree gloryhunter_99... Ok we did get well and truely beaten by what looked like a fantastic Ireland team but lets not forget firstly we WON the Championship and every other team lost at least two games.

    Secondly Ireland lifted there game immensly like the Scots did when they played us and it must be worrying for their fans that it took playing England for them to do something decent and have some intensity I cant believe the fans will be happy that they only play one real hum dinger a season...

    We have the nucleus of a very good side and as reported most players were under 25 with only a handfull with 30 caps or more, they have time to gel over the next 5 seasons with what looks like a bright under 18/19/20 age group coming through.

    This World Cup is probably too early for them but what an experience for the young guys to take and build on.

    Rome wasn't built in a day and all that!!!!

    Come on England keep your chins up you WON the 2011 6N... Well done boys

  • Comment number 5.

    Oh yeah massive congrats to BOD - What a player!!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    England clearly didnt learn from their scare against Scotland last week. Outplayed, outclassed and outgunned by a tired old Irish side... They will be lucky to get out of the QF's of the RWC. This team are the equivalent of the emperors new clothes! Congrats to Ireland.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Bryn,

    Since you're considering the ramifications of England's defeat here (by an awesome Ireland), you should also consider what it means to their IRB ranking. Per the article below, a defeat by 16 points, as happened today, means Ireland move into 4th place and England drop to 5th. I guess the Irish should be looking for that World Cup semi-final spot!

    http://www.irb.com/rankings/news/newsid=2042079.html

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well, I said on Bryn's previous blog that this England side was being blown up to be something it simply wasn't, and Ireland mercilessly underlined that today.

    Don't want to strike too negative a note, as I enjoyed today immensely, but - unless, of course, you happen to be Italian - this was the first time the tournament really came alive. The rest of this year's Six Nations has been marked by sub-par performances all round.

    All of these teams would need to find some way to raise their level significantly, to avoid being pitilessly turned over by the big guns in the World Cup. I think Wales, Ireland (as we saw today), and especially France all have it in them to up their game - but will they deliver?

    Still finding it very hard to see past the All Blacks: they are of a different order of magnitude to anything we've seen in the 6N 2011.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is anyone else starting to feel slightly aggrevied that the Celtic nations only seem capable of raising their game to play England?

    Watching the players reactions at the final whistle in Dublin one would think Ireland had just done the Grand Slam and England had got the wooden spoon. Lets put things in perspective - we WON the 6 Nations.

    This isnt a great England team by any stretch. Its still developing and maturing but theres alot of averageness in there. This years 6 nations was decided on the narrowest margins. Bar 1 or 2 fixtures, every game could have gone either way but for a very fine line. England were the team that did enough to win and arguably because the other nations - and I point the finger primarily at the Celtic ones - failed bring the same intensity to their other matches as they did against England. Wales v Ireland v Scotland were all flat, error riddled games where the side that made slightly less mistakes and played slightly less worse got the win. As for France? Well they have clearly the best squad but are jekyl and hyde. If Scotland, Wales or Ireland maintained the performances that they brought aginst England, or France employed a coach that wasnt a lunatic then they may well have been contesting for a Slam themselves. Ironically, this benefited England in many ways as the other sides couldnt produce any consistency.

  • Comment number 11.

    You keep inventing sports and we'll keep beating you at them!
    Thanks for coming!

  • Comment number 12.

    Bad day but fair play to the Irish.

    The futures bright though.

    Gotta laugh at the bitter celts that post here.

    I'll laugh even more when they all put in their usual pathetic gutless displays come the world cup.

    England have achieved and will achieve what you lot can only in your wildest fantasies dream of. That is the reality.

    Just remember that , carry on dreaming ZZzZZZzzzzz.

  • Comment number 13.

    Congratulations to a rampant Irish team who delivered a serious blow to an otherwise inconsistent England team. Nice comment from the Fridge who has immediately diverted the attentiion away from what should have been a glorious english rugby day.....pathetic, gutless and dreaming. I suspect this is how you are feeling today. Good luck in the world cup as you should do well if only you could put teams away that are there for the taking. PP

  • Comment number 14.

    The Fridge-You confuse bitter with elated my friend!

    You see wee 'celtic' nations (as we seem to be called) tend to be more humble going into matches, more realistic about our deficient team and the fact we are a far smaller nation punching well above our respective weights.

    Us Brits, sorry Scots, love to watch other Brits, sorry the English, getting a dam good thrashing! Its the entertainment of this sport and we get very little of it watching our own team, currently under a failure of a coach....(I swear Robinson has been planted to make us even worse!)

    I don't think England played particularly well this 6 nations, and the fact that Wales COULD have won it after your final match is testimony to the English performance.

    Don't believe your hype.....

  • Comment number 15.

    @paul #8,

    Please post a link to the article that contains the media or the England coaching set-up hyping up this England team as brilliant and wonderful, as I can't remember where I read it.

    Or did you just make that up?

    Fair play to Ireland they out-thought and outmuscled England in every aspect of the game. Even the scrums which, apart from the first one England dominated, still went Ireland's way as they were clever enough to get a wheel on or disrupt it enough so Easter and Youngs couldn't deal with it at the base properly. They were clever and more intense and Ireland's back row were outstanding, completely dominated.

    My biggest concern is how Youngs and Flood haven't been able to take control of the last 3 games. As Bryn mentioned, England failed to get a foothold in the game because of errors made by their 9 and 10. If those two aren't functioning properly, then a team hasn't a chance. Sexton showed that today by mixing his game up well.


    I'm sure Ireland's World Cup concern will be they need to play Australia and Italy a long way from the comfort of Dublin. Last World Cup they didn't even like spending too much time in France. A slip up against one of those teams sees them playing the Boks. A slip up against both sees them out. Even if the get to the QF they will need to keep the intensity level going, which they have clearly struggled with. In fact, all the 6 Nations teams have struggled; not one team has put in consistent performances, even England who were overall the best team. To win a World Cup a team has to win 7 games in a row, two of which are likely to be against Tri Nations opposition. I think it is just beyond the 6 Nations teams currently.

    Overall a poor Six Nations in terms of rugby quality, but that is usually the case really.

  • Comment number 16.

    There's only one way to win a 6 nations and that's with a grand slam!

    I think England must look at their game plan and the leaders on the field. Whilst England are getting slaughtered at the breakdown with Ashton or Cueto trying to push O'Connell off the ball or rip the ball from Wallace Englands forwards are blocking un the midfield and lingering on the opposing wing. Even if the by miracle win the ball at the breakdown Englands centers never see let alone touch the ball beacause there's 5 forwards (notably Easter, Haskel) recieving the ball in their place. If your forwards aren't in it for the 'fight' don't bother turning up.
    This match clearly showed that certain of Englands players are out of their depth, Easter, Deacon, Banahan, Ashton (I have never seen an international stop playing to complain to the referee as much as he did against Ireland) and Foden who lacks a kicking game or vison for the position he plays.
    Most dissappointing the lack of intensity of the English forwards, then the lack of forwards put in or getting to the breakdowns. With such a poor showing from the forwards its difficult to critise the backs but defensively they were all over the place or nowhere to be seen.
    I can not see what England can learn from this. They seem to have one game plan that was only changed once in the whole tournement (in the second half against France) they didn't cotton on then so why should they now?
    I have one last comment for England if you don't wish to play rugby then don't bother turning up.

    The Irish showed good intensity played good rugby and got a good result, Congratulations!
    What a great back row and O'Connell looked like he's back to his best.

  • Comment number 17.

    BennyBlanco...
    I'm afraid there aren't specific links to articles (actually there may well be) but is put across in the attitude and discussions to which we are subject on the BBC.

    Given it is a national trait, I don't expect you to grasp the concept. All I would suggest is to listen to some of the commentary and imagine you WEREN'T English...

    Dallaglio at half time in the Scotland England match "Everyone(I presume everyone English) thought Scotland were here to roll over and bring on a grand slam FOR England in Dublin." O yeah?

    Half time sum up from Inverdale, he could hardly speak "well its such a funny game?" Funny because your not winning?

    Arrogance pervades the English national rugby team and most commentators. Fine on an English only channel, but since it is the BBC (pay attention to the B) there are other nations from Britain watching who would expect some impartiality.

    You NEVER hear any bias from Cotter or Nichol, as Scots they can see further than their own noses....

  • Comment number 18.

    Paul,

    A good friend of mine is a Scotsman who doesn't have a massive chip on his shoulder, can give credit where it's due, and doesn't waste energy reading so much into apparent slights that people may or may not have made to his nation. So which attitude is a national trait for Scotland, his or yours? Because it seems we are applying the attitude of a few to the nations as a whole. After all, nothing like a good sweeping generalisation is there?

    Of course it was a funny old game. I challenge anyone to say they believed England would have been so out of it at the end of the first half. That is was so comprehensive was very surprising, so Inverdale said it and you took offence because...why? Because it was Inverdale and he is English? And (assuming you're quoting him correctly) Dallaglio chooses the wrong pronoun over a week ago to make the point of how Scotland are playing much better than they have so far in the Championship and that means the arrogance pervades the media and is a national trait? If he has said "most people" he would have been 100% accurate but because he said "everyone" the BBC is disparaging to non-English nations? How pathetic.

    And to say arrogance pervades the English national team is laughable. Give an example. You can't find one because there isn't one. Johnson has been completely reserved and cautious, as have the players. As have the players for a long time. Find me an example of a England player saying something "arrogant" towards Scotland in the last 10 years. You won't because it exists only in your imagination. What you obviously can't grasp is the difference between statements of ambition and arrogance. England wanted to win the Grand Slam, want to win the World Cup, and want to be the best in the world. They've said as much and said they have a helluva lot of work to do to achieve that. That is an ambition that all should be striving for. It would be arrogant to say they deserve that because they're English. But no one has ever said that. You only imagine them saying it because you have such a persecution complex.

    And I had to listen to the ESPN commentary in Australia, which was the Irish commentary. Try as they did to hide their delight, they did a poor job. But I don't care. And I certainly don't hold any views they may have expressed as being representative of Ireland as a whole. Which "national trait" are you really bothered by anyway: the imaginary hyping up from your first post, or the perceived arrogance or media bias from you're latest post?

    I don't think you really know, you just like to have a whinge, don't you?

  • Comment number 19.

    Ireland were good. Very good. Rarely has a team going for a Grand Slam match been so overwhelmed. Ashton's swallow diving, ridiculously highlighted by the media (including the BBC) was a thankful distant memory. The Irish were amazing in their intensity and the sight of an old stager like David Wallace was impressive. The challenge for the Irish is to live up to this standard. I hope that they can.

  • Comment number 20.

    Good lord Paul, you should probably calm down a little. If you find the comments made on the BBC arrogant then you must be a very sensitive soul. Try turning the volume down and just watching the pictures, that should help lower the old blood pressure. Is it our arrogance that is the problem or is it you deep seated inferiority complex?

  • Comment number 21.

    BennyBlanco - disagree with Paul all you like, it's what always happens when this notion of English sporting arrogance is raised. You just don't seem to realise it's there. Maybe not from the players themselves, but from the media. And it's a shame because it does England no good in the long run. And please don't give me any 'chip on your shoulder' rubbish - I lived in England for decases, love the place, and my best friends are English.

    Anyhow, well done Ireland, what a way to celebrate Paddy's Day!

  • Comment number 22.

    @21, WWotWC,

    As per Paul, please provide examples of arrogance from the media. His were poor, maybe you can give some better ones? I'm not claiming everyone in England or the English media is a humble soul, but the examples usually given are weak. I'll happily concede more if you or anyone can provide me with a good example of media arrogance. However strong it exists, I doubt the team themselves take any notice, so I would question how much damage it does in the long run. Claiming it does no good is like claiming the Celtic pre-occupation with beating England is holding them back.

  • Comment number 23.


    YAAAAWWWWWWWNNNNNNN...same old anti-English drivel.
    I think Gerry Guscott is a very straight forward commentator, there were no punches pulled he said exactly what he saw a fine Ireland performance and a poor English one.
    Martin Johnson can hardly be called arrogant, they were simply dissapointed period, well played Ireland.
    So Paul hopefully you can remove some of the chips off that plate on your shoulder, then again considering you are going to have to choke every time you hear England are the European champions, perhaps you should pile another plate on?

    "Watching Guscott & Inverdale choke was priceless! Still managed their totally blinkered biased comments, and still managed to exude that supreme arrogance only the English commentators can!

    Hopefully now that this team has been comprehensively battered up and down the park by the hardy Irish lads, it knocked some of the arrogance out of THEM too!

    The England performances haven't been that great this championship, just better than most of the rubbish they encountered. The hype that gets built up in England, though, about how brilliant and wonderful they are, only sets them up nicely for a fall-I can't believe this national trait still persists...."

  • Comment number 24.

    I think a few of you have missed the point of Ireland's celebrations yesterday at full time. Thankfully, long gone are the days of losing 4 (or 3 as it was in those days) and beating england being counted as a successful tournament for Ireland. This wasn't about beating the "Old Enemy" or anything like that. This was about the Irish team proving to themselves and also the Irish media and public that they had not suddenly turned into a bad team overnight - if you think the UK press are over the top in praise and criticism, try reading the irish press. Their frustration at the performances so far in the tournament was palpable, and last night we saw why - because they knew a performance of that magnitude was well within them and finally it came out. So the celebrations were not born out of bitterness or petty grudges, but relief that their world cup preparations were finally on the right track - and make no mistake, although the Irish team would have loved to win the tournament, this is all just a rehearsal for the World Cup where after 2007 Ireland really feel they have some unfinished business.

    What BOD and POC have done to this Irish team is bring, possibly for the first time ever, a serious winning mentality to the team. Gone is the "Irish Passion" that used to provide us with spectacular last minute defeats against big sides. Instead there is a serious, cold, professional winning mentality that will hopefully provide this fine vintage of Irish players the success they so deserve in New Zealand in October - can we win it? Maybe. But we will be bitterly disappointed with anything less than a semi final appearance.

  • Comment number 25.

    Thanks Wicked Witch, nail on the head moment: "Maybe not from the players themselves, but from the media". Most English fans (always exceptions, quite often drink-fuelled) are just happy to see their team win. Unfortunately, people like Paul above label that as "arrogant". As for chips on shoulders, don't like that phrase either but reading comments like those of Paul does make me wonder. It does grate when the only pleasure some people get is to see England lose, despite their own team just avoiding the wooden spoon. It also seems that it grates with him that it has taken an Englishman at the helm to improve their performances.
    The game? Ireland played to their full potential at last, class is permanent, form is temporary. But I think only England can be pleased with this year's tournament, a young team with some 1st choices absent that can only get better. Italy have made strides too, their backs are starting to find a running game. Is their Magners inclusion helping? Not seen any games but it appears so.
    I don't think the 6N can ever be used as a marker for World Cups, local rivalries always change the way teams play, good luck to all NH sides though. Can anyone see beyond the All Blacks this year?

  • Comment number 26.

    Well played Ireland. They didn't have the rub of the green in the earlier matches and put together a really solid performance against England. What I can't work out is why Johnson persists with such a dire midfield. Hape, Tindall and Banahan - are they possibly the three least creative players in international rugby? (including the forwards).

    Banahan was cruelly exposed yesterday, no real gas, poor angles of running and caught out of position in defence. For the world cup I would put Wilkinson in at 12 and get the back 3 involved much more. If only Tait was more robust.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm a cricketer really, and we do still talk about the spirit of our game (Ponting seems to have forgotten it - he should have walked yesterday!). This England team, in the main, have also forgotten the pure joy of rugby, unlike Ireland, and that's why I'm "glad" we lost. Until the clinical/cynical element is removed, we will remain just a functional team, but not one which brings a glow to its supporters. Merely winnning isn't enough (for me). As a fan, I want to relish a sporting occasion, performed by the best in the land. Remember that Liverpool Newcastle game? As a neutral, who cares who won - it was football at its best. The English rugby team haven't deserved that accolade for many years now... Let's hope they discover it soon!

  • Comment number 28.

    Congratulations to England for winning the 6 Nations.
    Congratulations to Ireland for probably the most ferocious performance of the championship. A well needed reality check for the young England team.
    The final table is a fair reflection I think.

    Bad championship this year? The overall quality across all teams is no worse than I've seen over the last 10 years, you never have all teams with vintage sides.

    World Cup? England, Ireland and France all have shown they have performances in them (if you count recent games against S hemisphere too) to get somewhere if they fire. No 6 nation winner though that is for sure.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm not sure about the England midfield either but I don't think this game can be used as a marker. When the rest of the team isn't firing, the midfield will always be exposed - look at D'Arcy's previous performances this year, a good player but he's been dreadful. Although I agree that Wilko could wear the 12 shirt, it's not a long term solution and he would need someone with real pace outside him. I think his running game has always been underrated but he's never had a lot of pace. I wonder what Banahan would have done had he been given some half-decent ball but a bit premature to jettison him at 12 now, after a poor team performance?

  • Comment number 30.

    Bryn

    "England, it is fair to say, have a bona-fide superstar on their hands."

    You wrote this in a previous blog about Ashton. I haven't seen any finger-wagging or swallow-diving for a few games now, has he been playing?

    Congratulations to England, a deserved Championship win, and let's hope the dip in results don't play on their minds in the Autumn. By the way, agreat game by Ireland.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Wish people would stop going on about England being a young team = Shaw, Thomson, Wilkinson, Easter Tindall, Palmer ? Although all better by a long way than their 'younger' replacements. Flood woeful yesterday and as he sinks 'Young' Jackson rises to the occasion with another fine display.

  • Comment number 33.

    An example of English arrogance is having Ireland at 111-5 in the Cricket World Cup and taking their foot off the gas because they expected to win easily.

  • Comment number 34.

    Paul, As an Englishman living in Scotland I would agree with your comments concerning the two commentators mentioned, and with the occasional other (Bill MacLaren comes to mind). But you have to admit that Eddie Butler cannot be termed unbiased concerning England under any imagination, nor Ian Robertson when commentating on Scotland, yet both have extensive coverage on the BBC. And should you ever watch BBC Scotland's duplicated coverage of a Scotland games through non-Scottish eyes, you would get a different perspective (no sympathy for decisions against England allowed under any circumstances). And it is funny that it is only when England play at Muurrayfield that suddenly there are thousands of Mel Gibson lookalikes allowed onto the field as the teams comes out - no such nationalism for other games, And as for "Flower of Scotland", what possible relevance is that against the Welsh/ Irish / French / Italians / All Blacks / Aussies/ etc etc etc.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ok then BAD performance by England.


    I supose you English cant blame Jonny Wilkinson for this loss as he is not starting any more....


    Why is it that Wilkinson is scapegoated when in England play badly? If Wilkinson had played as badly as Flood yesterday you would all be calling for his head.

  • Comment number 36.

    @33,

    An example of Celtic blinkered vision is to blame that cricket outcome on English arrogance, rather than a brilliant individual performance from O'Brien and shoddy bowling and fielding which England have been guilty of since they finished the Ashes.

  • Comment number 37.

    Its dissapointing that various "Keyboard Warriors" are hanging on the coat tails of England lost to somehow look past the various defeats which their own teams have put out in the last 6 weeks.

    English fans would hopefully be dissapointed that they didn't front up when other teams around them finally decided not to roll over infront of them. Too many players sat on the outskirts when the dirty work wasn't being done at the breakdown. They can take hope that they won the title and not even on points difference but on outright victories.

    Welsh fans just have to look at 4th in the table, after a disappointing start against England picking up victories against Scotland, Italy and Ireland (no matter how scrappy), however when playing England & France just didn't have the belief that they could play and lost convincingly. Young players coming through definitely mean that there should be hope in the Welsh camp and they SHOULD be looking to win it next year.

    Scottish fans came with hope into the tournament however due to injuries and selection issues never got out of the blocks. Only when England turned up did they decide why they were possibly darkhorses in the tournament and how they beat SA in the AI.

    Irish fans are properly looking at themselves at how they played so poorly for 4 games and then turned in a performance of that magnitude against the 6nations winners. A similar team that performed so badly against Italy, just won in every department against England. Is this a one off and will return to previous form in the WC or is this the reaction which will drive Ireland forward and back marching onto the WC?

    Italian fans will properly have the most enjoyable times although the results may not show it, close games against Wales and Ireland, victory against France, however they need to take their form away from home, to believe they can compete on the road and keep Mallet, as he has performed wonders with the Italian team.

    France, well France will always be an enigma. La Belle et la Bête with the beast completely shot to bits.

    Don't think we'll see many teams of the tournament as its been a tournament of teamwork rather than individual brillience throughout the tournaments. That and I can't think of many players who have played all 5 games and been consistently good (except possibly Sean O'Brien)

  • Comment number 38.

    33 What?? An example of arrogance? Shows how much and how badly this word is used, it is becoming so, so tedious. The performance you mentioned was careless, sloppy, you can probably use a few more choice adjectives. And you know what, it wasn't rugby, so where is its relevance on this blog?

  • Comment number 39.

    I do not know why the tone of this blog sounds like it is a surprise England lost.

    As someone had said in another blog, this team looks more like the team of '99 than '03..........as we saw that was borne out.

    Look, the fact that England won the championship, when they were clearly aiming for the gram slam, is a bit like Arsenal saying they play great attractive football and don't win anything.

    The truth is, this team were hyped up to what they were not, a good team, yes, a great team no, at least not yet!!

    Ireland are clearly coming to the end of the road with this team, but they put England in their place with a great display, that is the reality and should be seen as such!!

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh and why is everyone saying JW should play 12?

    JW should play 10 and flood 12 like in the 07 World cup and 08 Six nations.

  • Comment number 41.

    This was a much deserved Ireland victory. As an England supporter I share the concern of others about Youngs and his general demeanour, let alone performance.

    I have a question about some of the high tackle decisions - the decision against Ashton seemed OK if a bit harsh given the initial contact was at chest height, but wasn't Foden taken out at least as high when he tracked back and kicked in the phase leading to Ireland's try? Did not seem noticed by any commentators, so I guess it was not an issue - any other views?

    Not that this or other decisions would have change the result, but just interested to see if anyone else noticed.

    I believe (or hope?) this result will steel England for pressure performances in the World Cup.



  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Everyone,
    Can't resist a comment on yesterday. Hats off to the Irish and well done. The likes of BOD and O'connel gave England a lesson not only in intensity of play but in tactics. In hindsight easy to say that Jonno should maybe have thought more about selection issues as Kidney did. Yesterday was a day for older more experienced heads. In the absence of Tindall, Wilkinson would have been a better bet from the kick off. The worry for England was the utter comprehensive domination of Ireland. England never looked like scoring or really coming back into it. This is now the second time this side has been run over now - the first was a drubbing by the Boks. Jonno is right they can use these defeats to come back stronger or the young guns confidence can suffer. Jonno also has to learn tactically though, I feel. Both Ireland's tactics and executuion were spot on yesterday. All the talk of Banahan's selection was just that- talk. Banahan was not in a position to effect proceedings whatsover. The intensity and technically gifted aggression of the Irish pack swept England away like the rugby equivalent of a tsunami (with due respect to victims in Japan.)Answer was there none.

  • Comment number 43.

    Great performance by Ireland & hopefully a lot of the England lads now realise the intensity that is required at the top of the game.

    We seemed to tail off after the Italy game as inexperience took hold.

    The centres & Flood need looking at seriously in my eyes, as none of them is good enough at world level.

    England should have a good side by the next RWC.

  • Comment number 44.

    8. PAUL.

    And you are the reason I never support Scots in europe or anywhere else for that matter.

    Scots like you always spout the same bile every time England lose but as you lose more I would say that I get more satisfaction from it than you.

    If we were ranked last but one in the world it wouldn't bother me as long as Scotland were last.

    When Scots show their passion and pride they are being patriotic but when the English do it they are arrogant. Typical one eyed garbage.

  • Comment number 45.

    As an irish rugby fan, I really don't get the criticisim of the english team... They have proved to be the best northern hem. side this year.. They missed tindell and flutey badly in Dublin, but are still the 6 nations champions.. Get real people, 1 bad day doesn't make a bad team

  • Comment number 46.

    It was so reminiscent of 1990. England were rocked back at the first scrum, ireland hit the early rucks and England never recovered. But don't underestimate this prformance from a supposedly ageing Irish side.

    It was darned near complete. For 60 minutes free flowing rampant and with decisive finishing. If they'd been wearing the All Black jersey people it would have looked righht on the day, after which they closed out the game effectively and without fuss. The result was never in doubt.

    A truly magnificent irish performance.

    PS; A certain Jeremy Guscott had plenty to say on Friday. What's up Jeremy? :)

  • Comment number 47.

    Congrats to Ireland on their performance yesterday, they really played with intensity which they always seems to save for the England game.

    England did not help themselves with some poor decisions by the players e.g. Foden keeping the ball in play when we were all over the place defensively. A wiser old head would have put it in the stands and give the defence the time to regroup.

    Sin bin was a bit harsh though, i dont think Ireland were going to take a quick one and i think it was more frustation than a plan to throw the ball away. Youngs had plenty to be frustrated about as his performance was poor, especially the kick a few seconds beforehand when there was not one chaser for the kick.

    Irish scrum was all over the place in the last 20 mins but we never seemed to get any penalties for it. The front row were poping up straight away. Bar the first scrum we seemed to control this but messed up in the back row, tough it looked like we should have had penalities for Irish Front row standing up.

    England did not clear out the rucks yet again, same happended for 1st half against France and almost the whole of the Scotland game. Plenty of forwards hanging round centre area when they should be securing the ball for the likes of Banahan to run straight at Darcy who couldn't tackle Jelly in the France game.

    Lots of young players who can only learn from this but it is getting frustrating whatching England not matching the intensity that the Celtic nations put in against us. Are we not expecting this or is it complacency?

  • Comment number 48.

    41 yes, I noticed Foden being taken out too and it led directly to an Irish try but as you say, no excuse, the loss was deserved.
    42 Never mind the "due respect" in brackets, it is still a tasteless use of the word at this time and I would hope that the moderators agree and remove it immediately.

  • Comment number 49.

    Ireland need to be concerned that they have only been able to motivate themselves to reach the heights of their potential against England. There has been scant evidence in this tournament that they could reproduce this level of commitment against any other side in world rugby. Ireland need to learn - as Wales did eventually - that it is not enough just to beat England. The game yesterday proved that both sides have psychological problems that they will need to find a way to overcome to make any impact at the World Cup.

  • Comment number 50.

    We WON, the championship with a young team on the UP, overall you have to be very happy as an England fan. Especially when you think how awful we have been in recent years.

    The media always get carried away even best team in world or worse!

    But i for one am a proud Englishman whose team just won the championship!! Well done England

  • Comment number 51.

    mental approach is plainly key. england were complacent. ben youngs needs to lose the attitude - his ego is currently a big problem

  • Comment number 52.

    Congrats England on winning the 6 Nations Title after so many years of being a bit rubbish. Just a shame we had to finish it off with a performance like that.

    I would also like to express my increasing annoyance of Brian Moore who has never had a good word to say about England ever since he 'retired' from rugby.

    And as for all this rubbish I hear about rugby officials aren't country bias, if there was a more blatent game where the ref gave every decision to one team over the other I have yet to see it. He gave penalty after penalty to the Irish and when the Irish did the same he gave them put-ins at scrums saying the ball was unplayable.

    We didn't deserve to win the game, the Irish played the best rugby of their lives and if they had tried as hard as that in their other games they might have faired better, one of my pet bugs is that some teams try harder depending on the opposition. Just would have been a little bit better if the ref was a little more consistant in his penalty awards.

  • Comment number 53.

    Well, hats off to Ireland. Did your homework over the week and made us look silly. Not much was going for England in that game and i don't think that was because we didn't bring anything to Dublin, I think that Ireland just brought more plain and simple. England are just gonna have to go away and learn from this. The pedigree of 2003 will tell you all about this.

  • Comment number 54.

    Ireland won convincingly and outclassed England, a well deserved win, I hope they can take such form to the world cup.

  • Comment number 55.

    "The centres & Flood need looking at seriously in my eyes, as none of them is good enough at world level."
    Did England even have centres playing for them today? I rarely saw them do anything. It's a bit of worry too when your 9 & 10 are both replaced after 48min. I thought the Irish played the best rugby of any team in the 6N today. They completely dominanted the 6N Champions and made them look 2nd rate.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think there's a difference between media bias towards English and hype which is generated so they get audiences. It serves the media well to talk of England Grand Slams after one game so you buy their papers or tune in next week, but I don't think the ENgland players were talking of it.

    Every sensible rugby fan (and England player) would have said at the start of the season that Englands two toughest games would have been France and IReland, with the Ireland match being away probably the hardest of the two. Their record there is awful and they have been beaten 6 times out of the last 7 both home and away. I also think when one side doesn't play well it's normally because it's the other team doing stuff right to make them make errors etc. Scotland did it last week against England and Ireland did it this week. England aren't a bad side and they aren't the best side in the world. In the World Cup they should get to the quarters and maybe even further if they avoid the Tri-Nations teams who are all superior to them.

    For those saying about the celtic teams "Only raising their games to play England", I remember Will Carling saying: "In order to win the grand slam England had to become as passionate as Scotland, Wales and Ireland were against them." Yesterday they clearly didn't raise their game and the hype about "sealing Grand Slams" almost became embarrassing as they were comprehensively beaten and made to look almost amateur. If England had beaten Ireland like that we would have said "England didn't let them play well and forced them to make the errors". YEsterday Ireland's game plan was spot on and England didn't really seem to know what to do to break what was a fantastic Irish defence.

    Well done Ireland and hope this team which has been a fantastic team for many years has a good swansong at the World Cup.

  • Comment number 57.

    @paul. I'm irish too mate but come on quit complaining! BennyBlanco has not made one racist comment thus far. His arguement has been structured and logical whereas you've been arrogant, illogical and chilish... everything you accuse the english of being.
    Just concentrate on the rugby fellas, in which there was a great performance by the irish, which has been acknowledged by basically everyone.

  • Comment number 58.

    Huge respect to Ireland for having beaten us so comprehensively and well. We just didn't turn up to today but at the end of the day it has to be said that England were the best side over five games which I think counts for more. One bad result can't write off four good results.

    A word on Ireland. As I said they played excellently well but if I were an Ireland fan that would leave me feeling so frustrated. Clearly this side has problems motviating themselves. If they'd played like they did yesterday against france and wales then we could have a different champion. As it is, it would seem they can only get up for a game against the "universally hated" English team. If I were Declan Kidney this would worry me come world cup time....

  • Comment number 59.

    Heh heh. Don't get too excited people. Great performance from a previously creaking Irish team but the World Cup will play out to form as ever; Ireland and Wales will mysteriously lose to "inferior" teams and go nowhere. Scotland and Italy will put in brave performances against bigger teams and go nowhere. Either England or France will creak to the semis or possibly the finals, despite playing distinctly average rugby. New Zealand will choke despite being the best team in the tournament by far. Australia or South Africa will sneak up on the rails and win it. It's a tried and tested formula apart from in 2003!

  • Comment number 60.

    Firstly- well played Ireland, we were completely out done in every part of the game last night. However, England are still 6 nations champions and have made massive strides in 12 months. People seem to forget that it took MJ's team 3 goes at the slam and 7 years to build for the RWC. The average age of that team is something like 24... they have plenty of time where as realistically Ireland have this squad for maybe one more season so the experience they carry really showed. Whoever said Ireland will make the semi's of the RWC - I doubt it. makes me laugh how the same people who have been saying how one bad run didn't make this Irish team a bad one are now saying this England team are rubbish... England now remind me a bit of 1999. Great potential and real talent but they lack that experience and doggedness that only comes with time. I reckon if people stay fit and the RFU keep the faith with MJ this squad could really challenge in 2015 and will claim a slam between now and then. People forget that 12 months ago England were directionless and rubbish, now they are going places and have shown that they are the most consistent NH team, now we need to learn. Lets now run before we can walk. 6 Nations champions with this young team is good (bearing in mind MJ was told 2nd was what the RFU expected), we have shown we are a good team, now we need time to develop into a great one.

  • Comment number 61.

    Correction to be piece above!! ' Lets not run before we can walk' not 'now' DOH!!! It was a long night!

  • Comment number 62.

    11. Irish James...
    You can keep beating England as long as we keep bettering you ;)
    Rugby World Cup 07- England Finalists, Ireland Group Stage
    Six Nations- England Winners
    Cricket World Cup- England through, Ireland Eliminated
    Football World Cup- Ireland missed the plane thanks to Thierry Henry's handling skills.

    Need I go on?
    But in all fairness the Irish were a quality outfit yesterday, BOD is still on another level.

  • Comment number 63.

    I think people assume arrogance from the English based on the past but looking at the facts. They hadn't won a Six Nations in 8 years or even really come close to winning one in that time. They had 3 home games this season and only narrowly avoided defeat to scotland.

    To be arrogant about this game would have been idiocy and I heard none of it. The talk from the very beginning was if they could defeat a Welsh side in very bad form they had 3 home games (everyone believes they can win their home games) giving them a tilt at a GS in the final game. It was always acknowledged England would need a huge performance against Ireland to stand a chance and I don't think most smart people gave them a strong chance in doing that.

    Johnson's post match comments were fairly humbled, accepted they weren't good enough and seemed pleased to take their six nations win as they should be.

    England have probably been the 4th best team in the 6N for the past 8 years but you have to admire them for getting the most possible out of a limited group of players. If the French and Irish especially had that sort of consistency they'd be lethal.

  • Comment number 64.

    1 - Ireland were magnificent, outstanding in every department. That was as good a first half of complete rugby you will ever see.

    2 - Irish fans should be considerably concerned that it took a grand slam chasing England team to get you worked up to that level. England are not in your group in the World Cup - so unless you take a hypnotist with you to convince you its an England grand slam chasing team - I feel Ireland are more likely to offer the same level of tripe they did in the first four games.

    3 - England fans, every now and again a team will be possessed and do thing you are not prepared for. France v New Zealand in '99 for example. You just have to hold your hands up and say we were beaten by a better team on the day. In this case, it was an Ireland team playing to supernatural levels (given their last 4 games of woeful drivel).

    4 - Whilst those pundits talked of Grand Slams, I was always mindful that this was pretty much the same team that got nailed badly against South Africa. In much the same fashion as yesterday. Whether we won the Grand Slam or not, we could still only count ourselves middle of the road. Simply because we don't have a plan b, and coaches don't appear to be able to adapt to the performance of the other team. And selection is still highly myopic.

    We were blitzed at the breakdown, yet there was no out and out 7 in the squad. Haskell (good against Scotland - mainly when we were in possession) was anonymous in defence and at the breakdown.

    Johnson and team need to expand their minds when it comes to selection.

    5 - Bryce Lawrence (not the cause of Englands defeat) was woeful (for both teams). Possibly the worst ref in the world (and only likely to be involved because he is a kiwi and we know how much they get excited if someone does something they don't like).

    One scrum in the first to England saw the Irish mashed - Easter lost control at the base mainly because the england pack were no longer connected to an opposition. Wallace was actually stood where Youngs would normally still be stood - all whilst the Scrum was still going. Early unbinding you would think - play on says Bryce. Plenty more examples but what is he doing in a 6N Game. Go home.

  • Comment number 65.

    Could I be so bold (as an Englishman) to comment on the issue of arrogance?

    I watched the match at home on the BBC coverage....in the build up they had a little montage on BOD.....and seemed to compare him to God....

    Anyway....best team won on the day and the best team won the tournament. Scotland, despite the results, have improved under Robinson. Best of luck to them in the continued development.....though they really do need another team in the Magners League to increase the pool of talent at their disposal.

    My man of the tournmaent had to be Richie Gray though. I am already salivating at the thought of him and Lawes making the next Lions second row combo!

  • Comment number 66.

    What has worried me most over the last few years (not the only worry, just the biggest) is that our forwards can't seem to clear out rucks as well as, say, the all - blacks do. They do not seem 'dynamic'. Even in the France game yesterday I saw their second row lift and shift to get quick ball. I imagine that with quick ruck ball it is easier for the half back to attack? But the England second rowers were either lying on the ruck or being held up in mauls. Comments anyone? Especially from experts!

  • Comment number 67.

    England were outplayed in all postions with the exception of Corbisero and Woods.The breakdown tactics were once again woeful,there was no aggression and put simply England are no where as good as they believe they are!The forwards coaching has got to be questioned and they need to select players that can actually pass a rugby ball.Some of the passing was pathetic.Johnson has got to ditch his conservatism and realise that out of this team/squad only 8 are really anywhere near World Cup selection standard.

  • Comment number 68.

    May I make another comment? Is it possible to quiz the coaches anywhere? People can't understand what they are doing and I have not seen anywhere to put questions to them and to get clear answers. Surely that does not help - we fans do pay their wages!

  • Comment number 69.

    'I'm Bryn Palmer and I specialise in rugby union'

    Yet throughout the article you mention how England were 'deprived of injured captain Mike Tindall' when actually England have been deprived of their captain Lewis Moody all tournament.

    Easter was mearly the stand-in for the stand-in captain and you fail to mention that.

    And to your final point about players coming back into the side for the summer warm-ups, England will be taking a step backwards by bringing Armitage back into the side. He has been and gone, much like someone like Sackey and Foden performed well enough to keep his shirt for the summer.

  • Comment number 70.

    So 51, Ben Youngs should lose his attitude? Oh, I've thought of one, a scrum-half without an attitude that is, Peter Stringer. "Attitude" usually goes with the territory. Although it was a moment of frustration, you could say petulance, I really don't know why he was carded, no chance of a quick line-out and other balls are usually on hand - the Irish team should know that after last week!

  • Comment number 71.

    Anyone who has watched and enjoyed the n-nations over the years should be able to rise above the silly vitriol of the few. I've travelled to all the other nations (except Italy, on me todo list) and never seen even a glimpse of the sort of one-eyed nonsense that happens on these blogs. And when the Lions travel to take on the might of the SH, I cheer long and loud for our players, be they Irish, Scots, Welsh or English.

    I didn't enjoy the Ireland match too much yesterday (yes, I'm English)until near the end when I saw the celebrations of BD and his team. Ireland have historically been an exciting team to watch. In the old days before professionalism, they'd scare the hell out of the oppo, but would always blow up in the last 15 due to, I liked to suspect, too much criac the week before. Times have changed.

    Long live the 6 nations. The quality of the rugby may not sometimes be as good at the SH, but the diversity, history and tradition of the 6N is tough to beat. If you don't believe me, try a night in Dublin after a 6N match.

  • Comment number 72.

    "England won a scrum that was already on the move but in trying to keep the ball at the base, allowed Ireland to steal it."

    Ireland stole that ball purely because (as someone else has already observed) they had completely splintered from the scrum and David Wallace was about 3 m offside, and unattached, when he intefered with play.

    This is just one of many many examples of the incompetence of the refereeing decisions.

    I am NOT saying that England deserved to win the game, but the game deserved a referee that knows the laws of the game and applies them equally to both teams.

    It leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see such an abject display on what was the biggest game of the tournament.

    This referee should not be allowed to adjudicate another international game. He was awful!

  • Comment number 73.

    Really very pleased with the win. Quite why it took so long is very disappointing from an irish perspective. I genuinely don't think this was about spoiling an English party as much as Ireland finally doing what many of us expect of them. I think gone are the days when beating England is seen as a good six nations. I'm very disappointed in this six nations. The standard of rugby has been poor. If.....if Ireland had played the whole tournament like they did yesterday then there wouldn't have been a team to live with them. But that's the old lament. Neither of these teams can live with the big three. That Ireland have leap frogged England in the world rankings after this woeful tournament surely speaks volumes. We are the best of the worst?? Simply not good enough, and small consolation.

  • Comment number 74.

    England were simply terrified, and you could see in the Scotland match that the pressure of the slam was getting to them. I expected England to lose narrowly yesterday but not to get thumped like that. It was embarrasing. Ireland just never allowed them to gain some composure and full credit to them. If England played Ireland away in the first coupl eof games then you would have seen them do far, far better than that. That performance, or lack of it, was born out of sheer pressure of the occasion.

    In my opinion, the Grand slam is more difficult to achieve for England than for the others; this is simply down to the way opponents play when facing the red rose. The three home nations simply hate us as these pages show time and time again. Ireland were about 50 % better yesterday than normal. Scotland were about 30% better last week. And look at the level of hatred the England team had to contend with in Cardiff. Whe3n Ireland or Wales play, do they have to contend with this passion and hostility? No.
    And on a seperate note, what happened to Irealand's applaudable culture of not jeering kickers? Because it was England, and apparently that makes it ok. English bashing is a form of racism that is still allowed. I guess history, however long ago, makes this unavoidable. They would do well to remember more recent history, like our assistance to their ruined economy etc.

    However, it doesn't make this young England team bad. They won the championship and still remain the srongest northern hemisphere team as imm sure the World Cup will show later on this year. They will have their time in the next few years im sure. Celtic countries need to perform against the rest of the world if they are to join the top tier of International rugby.

  • Comment number 75.

    It's a very hard job indeed to achieve a Grand slam. Just ask the French last year in their last match against England at the stade de France ! England just did not succeed in doing it as Ireland did yesterday. They would have like it so much, though. Johnson was absolutely right when he kept saying England youngs had still to improve each time the won a match. They seemed to be the best team in Europe these recent lasts weeks and they were just outclassed yesterday but a superb Ireland. England vs England was quite a close match. I still remember it and think France just did not take this game against Italy seriously. I am convinced that after the disapointment they had in England, it was just a ' butter game ' to play in Italy. They would have never thought this way to my opinion. Because if they had play this game against Italy with much more serious, when you make the counts in the end, France could have had a real chance to win the tournament. Missed unfortunately. I think they should have a better state of mind approaching every games they play. Even against Italy cause I still remember last year, England could have been nearly defeated as well. Again, to claim to be the best team in Europe must be pretentious, especially when the ones who realise you are not. I am disapointed for England. I think they would have deserved this Grand slam this year. You can't always thrash the opposing teams all the time, can you ? Ireland outclassed them. That's sports. I still feel bitter for France. True as I read few weeks before, winning ugly looks good sometimes. Not always. There had been a sabotage to one of the chariot's wheel yeaterday. The Irish had been caught red-handed at it. Well done Ireland. And to win the tournament is not that bad. I would have signed for it, personnally if France played Italy as they formely used to play this kind of game. They just did not. Cheer up England, I really think you have a very good and young side with a real promising future. Even the best teams in the world sometimes lose, ask New-zeland although it's hard job to do as well to beat them.

  • Comment number 76.

    @no.10

    With Scotland I think you are correct, we strangely find a performance against England but not Ireland/Wales. It is perhaps an indirect compliment - dont feel too aggrieved. Your strategy can be to up your game in response! It is much more frustrating for the celtic fans,I assure you.

  • Comment number 77.

    A young England side will learn from the experience. Congratulations Ireland - some truly excellent Rugby.

    57. sportssupporter11: Thank you for the comment. It is noticeable - whatever the nationality - that people who hate start to take on the attributes they claim to hate.

  • Comment number 78.

    Here is my shot at a composite XV for the Six Nations then:

    1. Domingo
    2. Hartley
    3. Castro
    4. Bradley Davies
    5. Tom Palmer
    6. 'O' Brien
    7. Warburton
    8. Parisse
    9. Parra
    10. Flood (Bad the last game)
    11. Medard
    12. Lamont
    13. BOD
    14. Ashton
    15. Masi

    4 Englishmen, 3 Frenchmen, 3 Italians, 2 Welshmen, 2 Irishmen and 1 Scotsman. This highlights the closeness of the tournament, with England just coming out on top and with Italy getting three players in with Sergio and Castro being nailed on and Masi in for the lack of an outstanding full back.

  • Comment number 79.

    We are the best rugby team in the Europe. We have beaten England!! It is completely unbelievable! We have beaten England! England, birthplace of giants. Lord Nelson, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden, Clement Attlee, Henry Cooper, Lady Diana, Martin Johnson, Bill Beaumont, David Cameron, Tony Blair--we have beaten them all. We have beaten them all.

    Maggie Thatcher can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher, I have a message for you at the start of your war in Libya. I have a message for you: We have stopped England winning the Grand Slam. Maggie Thatcher, as they say in your language in the boxing bars around Madison Square Garden in New York: Your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!

  • Comment number 80.

    Paul
    I'm sorry mate but your comments are more than laughable, you've definitely given me a nice chuckle on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

    Not sure whether you saw the after match talk with Martin Johnson but he was the epitome of humble and basically said that Ireland beat England hands down, which is completely true, a fantastic 80 minute display. This was also supported by Nick Easter who said the same. The fact you claim that arrogance is an English trait is completely unfounded, no player of this England side during the whole of this tournament has said that this England team are the best at anything, they simply stated that they looked to improve themselves as should any team really.
    I'm sick of people like you who come on to these blogs and manufacture an imaginary arrogance from your own bitter mind. Your blinkered view goes as far as making out that Andy Nichol unbiased. One of the things i dislike most about BBC coverage is the fact that when Scotland are playing we the viewers have to sit in front of our telly's and listen to the utter drivel coming out of this mans mouth, that and his attitude that when it comes to a Scottish player, butter wouldn't melt in their mouth.

  • Comment number 81.

    @45 Good comments :-) and nice to read after the trash that's been written about the English by some bloggers.
    As an England fan I take a lot of positives from the Autumn and 6N games. Of course yesterday was a huge disappointment, but we will learn from it!

    Congratulations to the whole squad and Martin Johnson for WINNING the 6N, and for giving us supporters something to cheer about again :-)

    And finally a message to all bloggers who berate the English. Now the 6N is over you can go back to your gardens where your gnomes are no doubt waiting to entertain you - you have about 6 months until the RWC starts. Half of you probably don't even know the rules of the game!

  • Comment number 82.

    Paul, I'm sure you are just trying to ruffle a few feathers so well done well, jobs a good un. I actually hate the fact we (scotland) are more likely to give a performance against England than anyone else. I would rather beat Wales and Ireland.

    Also, my experience of Irish fans in the last ten years is that they have been more likely to assume a victory against us and then brag about a victory than have English fans.

    The six nations is a fantastic tournament BTW. Especially now that Italy are credible. The standard may not have always been the best, but it is a great sporting event.

  • Comment number 83.

    Don't disagree apart from you threw Scotland the wrong bone! Our 'token' should have been Gray @ 4

  • Comment number 84.

    I'd just like to point out that Ireland have done England almost annually in the 6 Nations in recent years so all this baloney about the smaller celtic countries 'putting in more effort' against the English is just that - pure baloney. Perhaps u should also explain to the French that u have included them in the 'smaller celtic nations' catagory as you seem to get under their skin more than most - ref Lievremont

  • Comment number 85.

    England deserved the 6N winners medal and are showing real potential and strength in depth at last with a few glitches along the way. MJ has got his timing right for this years RWC. Ireland must push on from here and with notable stellar performers out injured [Ferris and Kearney]it should only get better.

  • Comment number 86.

    Have been reading a lot of english comments saying that Irish fans should be worried that we only are motivated / put in performances against england. I completely disagree with this. Ireland have developed into a very good team that is looking to be ruthless and professional when beating teams. We want to play like that against every team...you only have to listen to the players and read the newspapers in Ireland to see that.

    In the 4 games leading up to yesterday (except Italy game when we were rubbish), Ireland have been very close to matching that intensity and skill but have made small errors and conceded a horrendous amount of penalties. That performance yesterday had been coming and it just was the case that we were playing England on their GS decider in our final competitive game before the WC. It was not simply because we were playing England.

    Arrogance per dictionary - "offensive display of superiority or self-importance". I wonder if people would agree that English fans commenting that Ireland can only motivate themselves when playing England is a sign of arrogance?

  • Comment number 87.

    Irrrrrrrreland ! Irrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreland ! ;-)

    Scotland avoided the wooden spoon (They deserved to be in the middle of the tournament tables this years). England have won a chocolate cup (as we did many times as well). Bad taste, isn'it ?

  • Comment number 88.

    Godness ! Johnno looked so grumpy after the match. I totally agree with him when he used to say that his side has 'always' to improve and to play better.
    What a rugby lesson from Ireland yesterday ! Is pressure still on Ireland today ?

  • Comment number 89.

    All the comments that Ireland only raised their game because it was England are completely wide of the mark. It was always going to be a massive performance no matter who they were playing after bottling up so much frustration during the previous games, especially losing to Wales in spurious circumstances. Deccie has been talking about implementing an 'Irish' style of play since the tournament began and it finally fell into play. They could have been playing Italy last and still put in that performance because it was a sink or swim situation with the RWC in sight and the players in the squad were up to it. Gone are the days of the 'little brother complex' against England Im glad to say.

    PS speaking of the RWC- with Kearney, Ferris, Flannery and Murphy coming back into the squad I think we can be cautiously optimistic if we can replicate that performance

  • Comment number 90.

    Quite frankly the Celts are the arrogant ones!

    Celts just like to imagine the English say something 'We will win the Grand Slam' when an Englishman never actually says it. Then when you challenge them for the proof, you never get an answer, just babble and usually a derogatory remark about the English. Yet one of their own has ambitions but that is confidence. No its Arrogance!

    Chris Ashton does his celebrations and is bought down especially by the Welsh. Called every name under the sun yet Shane Williams has done the same and worse yet 'that's different'.

    Yet Gatland, Liveremont, O Driscoll have been mouthing off about England but in Celtic land that's fine. England have ambitions, no that's arrongance!

    Plus the English contingent of the BBC are not biased compared to the Celts and any sprinkling of French and Italian. Because Celts can be patriotic, their supporters see this as fine.

    Andrew Cotter and Andy Nichols love Scotland but thats fine in Scotland.
    Johnathan Davies is so up Wales's backside (remember Shane Williams against Scotland last year?) and they can do nothing wrong.
    Keith Wood and Phillip Matthews: Well Ireland this, Ireland that.

    Quite frankly being English I find the Celts offensive and very biased in views of their own nations. At all times their bigging up their nations, then when a match comes up against England, you can really tell the xenophobia in their faces.

    Yet as well what is forgotten that their is BBCs Scotland, Wales and NI. But those bodies refused to ever let their be a BBC England yet the English are paying more to the BBC and getting left out!

    Plus I'm sick of Welsh songs at MS, FOA at Aviva, Bagpipes at Murrayfield etc. Always blowing your own trumpet thinking your culture is so great but abusing the English Culture! Overblown Nationalism. Yet if the English try to be patriotic at Twickenham, Celts get very uppity and don't like this.

    It always amuses me as well that nations don't focus on themselves but prefer to see (and Attack) anything England does. Obviously shows Celtic Patriotism isn't what were propogandly fed!

  • Comment number 91.

    Sabotage ! An Irish spanner has been found near the chariot's wheel :-)

  • Comment number 92.

    Yes we totally outplayed England on the day and fully deserved the win. However instead of praising Ireland I would point an accusing finger at many of the men in green. That they could play so well in one match only highlights how poor they were in the rest of the campaign. Far from celebrating a great victory many of that squad should be hanging their heads in shame at what went before. Much as there must be question marks about England's credentials for the World Cup at least they are a young side who might improve. What is our excuse? I cannot see this squad doing anything at the World Cup if they are going to pick and choose which matches they want to 'show up for'.

  • Comment number 93.

    People, people, people. Let us all calm down and stop this talk of 'arrogance', 'chips on shoulders', 'small, celtic nations' and all the other nonsense.
    Credentials...... Englishman (Essex born, bred and proud) but living in a wee small village just outside Dundee, Scotland.
    Ireland played like they had a point to prove and but for Steve Thompson's try, I think would have kept England from scoring a 5 pointer if they'd played till next week.
    England looked, to me at least, that they wanted to be anywhere but on the paddock yesterday and were beaten by a team who had the tactical wherewithall, spirit, and quite frankly the balls, to play the game at such a pace and manner, that in the end, the Irish score could easily have been 20 or so points more to the good.
    Ben Youngs will probably feel like he wants the floor to open up and swallow him whole, whilst most of the rest the team will want to seek solice in a quiet corner in the saloon bar. Whilst disappointed at the result, this has suddenly not become a bad team overnight, But I have to add, it wasn't 'touching greatness' as I have read one of the players has said, either. I would agree that the 6nations, on the whole has been of a standard that wouldn't keep SH sides awake at night.
    Whan all is said and done, England lost a game of rugby to an Irish side that in my opinion, at times, reminded me of watching the AB's, such was their hunger for the ball and 'go forward' attitude. The world has not stopped spinning, the sun rose this morning and will no doubt, set tonight.
    Congratulations to Ireland, deserved winners on the day

  • Comment number 94.

    @90...........I think you are hurting lad, its only a game but that was a good whinge...take it on the chin and come back stronger

  • Comment number 95.

    90. race for your life, you're right but why waste your breath, nothing is going to change. As Englishmen we should be far and away abover this level of small minded pettiness. Don't let the so called "celts" which is a myth in itself drag you down to their level

  • Comment number 96.

    Aside from all the nationalistic bickering lads, surely it must be worrying for England that Ireland attacked his channel all day long and not Cueto's. Is he undroppable anymore?

    Also alot of regrets for Ireland after the way we left the 2 losses behind us, and I dont mean the referee because the wales game was there for the taking.

    Well done England mostconsistant team overall.

  • Comment number 97.

    @ Legs 1973 Post 81
    ' - you have about 6 months until the RWC starts. Half of you probably don't even know the rules of the game!'

    There are Laws and regulations in rugby union but no rules. If you are going to be condescending, at least get your facts right. Perhaps there is a new sport, similar to Rugby Union, which has rules instead of Laws. It might have been what England were playing yesterday, Mugby perhaps?

    What I noticed about the game yesterday; Ireland aren't as bad as people made out before the game, England aren’t as good. Ireland won all the key battles, but that is because they simply have, player for player, a better team. I'd probably take Ashton and Foden from the team that started yesterday, but the rest would be the Irish side.

    It made me laugh reading all the Banahan comments yesterday, and how he was going to run through/over BOD etc. Banahan is a slightly better then average Premiership winger, let alone international centre and BOD (even D'Arcy) have stood toe to toe with the likes of Nonu & Mortlock and rarely come off second best individually, so how some people thought he's have trouble with Banahan is beyond me.

    Easter is a plodder, especially compared to how dynamic Heaslip was and is a No 8 from a bye gone era who wouldn't get anywhere near the Ireland squad, let alone team. Haskell is very athletic, but has no rugby brain whatsoever and was taught a lesson in back row play by Wallace who was my MOTM. Could go on comparing players, but seeing as it was so one sided, I don't have the time.

    I was so confident of an Ireland win that I put all my Big Bucks winnings on them. Today is a happy day and I'm off to celebrate....... again!

  • Comment number 98.

    ENGLAND MALE RUGY TEAM CHAMPIONS!!!
    ENGLAND WOMEN RUGBY TEAM CHAMPIONS!!!

    That's all you need to know!! That's all there is to say. This is my first 6 Nations that I watched every match.

    England must be the only country in the world where we are brain-washed to be self loathing to the point it's embarassing!

    Having to put up with watching the impartial BBC commentary was bad enough but hearing the whinging that they didn't win every game is a joke. 4 out of 5 wins, amazing!! Ireland 3rd, no cup, no trophey for 3rd!!

    It ws like this for the England footie team, they got to the finals, playing the top teams in the world!!! Where where Ireland, Scots and the Welsh then? Yes, the ENG' footie team underperformed (in the world Cup Finals!!) but against some amazing teams.

    It seems it's best not to enter any competitions, then we can just *** off every other team that doesn't lift the Cup! (In this case we did win the cup and still get it in the neck, Mad or what)?!

    By the way, we need to get a BBC England, especially for these types of events. Commentators who arn't liberal wimps who can get behind the national team make you feel happy to be watching a game.

    That's all for now CHAMPIONS!

  • Comment number 99.

    France have beaten Wales. So, England has won this 2011 tournament. Ireland defeated England, so France are still the last Grand slam holders. They should create a different cup for winnning a Grand slam. It's hard to do. Congratulations to the Irish. The first 35 minutes was absolutely great rugby. Congratulations to England for this tournament as it was a deserved one. The final tables quite reflect what happenned during these past weeks.

  • Comment number 100.

    @ post 90. Race for your life wrote:

    'Chris Ashton does his celebrations and is bought down especially by the Welsh'

    What celebration are you talking about? I didn't see him celebrating yesterday, only him asking ROG what it felt like to win a grand slam, and then getting upset when ROG wouldn’t tell him. I keep reading about a supposed swan dive, but I only saw a Thompson belly flop.

    Would you like any salt and vinegar with that chip?.........

 

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