In the most beautiful way imaginable: with a Grand Slam or five wins. Ireland are the winning team at the World Championship in France later this year. “Everybody hates England.” With this comment, Ireland captain Mac Hansen put the British Isles’ frenetic derby on edge. After victories over France, Italy, Wales and Scotland, the Irish team is not lacking in confidence.
Still missing was a win against England, An old enemy Rugby is in crisis. Last weekend, England suffered a historic home defeat against France: 53-10 at the rugby stadium of Twickenham.
The British in Dublin wanted to prevent such a beating. At Lansdowne Road they raced into a 6-0 lead after two Owen Farrell penalties, but hopes of a stunt were short-lived. Just over half an hour later, with a 6-3 deficit, Josh van der Flier made his mark. The Irish Player of the Year deftly passed the ball to Dan Sheehan, who scored his first try of the tournament. Just before the break, England’s Charlie Ewells was shown a red card for a foul tackle.
And playing with a man down, the Irish raced to a comfortable victory in the second half and wrested the Six Nations throne from France. Ireland is currently number one in the world rankings. New Zealand have won three of their four games against the once invincible All Blacks. At the end of last year, they also beat defending world champions South Africa. Interesting fact: Ireland’s manager, Andy Farrell, is the England captain’s father.
The strength of Irish rugby is surprising, as Gaelic football and hurling have traditionally been the island’s main sports. Rugby was seen as a sport imported by the English ruler. A great man among the Irish was van der Flier, the Dutch disciple. His paternal grandparents came to Ireland in the 1950s to open a radiator factory. At the end of last year, the 29-year-old flanker was voted the best player in the world.
Not only in the field of rugby, the Irish have shown themselves to be superior to the English in recent days. At the Cheltenham Festival, the leading racehorse steeplechase event, Irish horses outclassed English horses, leading Ireland to win the Prestbury Cup on St. Patrick’s Day.
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