6 Nations champions crowned with hopes of a grand slam in sight
Ireland have been handed the 6 Nations title a week early, following England’s 22-16 defeat by France in the penultimate weekend of the championship. Ireland will head to the home of rugby at Twickenham on Saturday for their final clash, hoping to complete their first grand slam in nearly a decade. Joe Schmidt’s side will be looking to avoid the same fate they served England last year, which denied Eddie Jones’ team the same accolade and brought their record-breaking winning streak to an end.
England’s dream of making history by becoming the first team to win the championship for three successive seasons is now over. Instead they have suffered two away defeats for the first time since 2009. The side were delivered another blow on Sunday when Wales secured a 38-14 win over Italy that saw them leapfrog into second place.
6 Nations 2018 Standings
Jones was quick to point out that this is all a learning period for England ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019. He said, “We’re all disappointed, all gutted, but we need to make sure we’re stronger next time.” Keen to keep it in perspective Jones went on to say, “We’re not in any cycle. We’ve lost two games of rugby. One was by a hair’s breadth against France and in the other one we were outplayed”.
This result moves Ireland to second place behind New Zealand in the World Rugby rankings, with England slipping to third. As the two come head to head on St Patrick’s Day Ireland will not be resting on their laurels, and it’s clear England will be eager to avoid a repeat of their final round loss in Dublin last year. Schmidt admitted: “This is just us against them” and history shows England are at their most dangerous when they have something to prove. It’s certainly going to make for a gripping final game for the two sides this Saturday at Twickenham.
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