If everything goes to plan in Scotland this weekend, Mark Sexton will oversee the Ireland U-20s’ captain’s run in Cork on Saturday week, and make the round trip to Dublin in the hope of seeing brother Johnny captain the senior team to Grand Slam glory.
There will be just about enough time to fulfil both commitments on what could be a momentous couple of days for the Sexton family and Irish rugby in general.
Before either brother dares to dream, there is the small matter of both their respective sides overcoming Scotland away from home, yet the thought alone of Ireland and the U-20s taking on England for a Grand Slam on home soil on the same weekend is enough to set the pulses racing.
Mark, who is in his second season as assistant coach with the U-20s, tasted Grand Slam success last season, and while so too did Johnny in 2018, it would be even more special to manage the remarkable feat within 24 hours of each other.
The Sexton brothers, Johnny (37), Mark (35) and Jerry (30), have a very strong relationship, as they do with their sister Gillian.
Mark and Johnny are particularly close, and although rugby dominates much of the agenda, life goes on outside the rigorous demands of their profession.
“We’re best friends,” Mark tells the Irish Independent. “I’m always over at his house. We love talking about rugby but it’s not necessarily the first thing we talk about. Man United is probably our first love that we go to.
“If you’re not going to pick the brain of the best out-half in the world, then you’re not going to be where you need to be.
“He’ll help when I ask, but he lets me go where I want to go. He knows the game inside out, he’s got Andy Farrell, who is one of the best coaches in the world, Mike Catt, these guys are giving him enough help, I’d imagine.”
Every now and then, Mark has to stop himself and appreciate how far his older brother has come, but the sense of pride is obvious.
“It’s really unbelievable,” Mark says. “Proud doesn’t do it justice, what Johnny has done in the game. It’s amazing watching him. It will be a sad day when he hangs up the boots.
“Sometimes when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t see your achievements. You look at Johnny and being very proud of him, but sometimes all you think about is the next thing. It’s funny, you celebrate other people’s wins, more than you celebrate your own.”
Mark’s reputation in the coaching world is rapidly growing. Under Richie Murphy, he has been given the freedom to implement an exciting attacking framework with the Ireland U-20s, while since joining Connacht as an elite development officer two years ago, he is very well-regarded out west.
He might have followed Johnny and Jerry into the professional ranks but for a serious injury as a teenager. That, however, didn’t stop the three brothers from scrapping when they were younger.
“It was wild,” Mark laughs. “It was brilliant though, great memories of playing sports against each other. Anything and everything was a competition. Out the back garden, it was competitive whatever it was, whether it was Jerry or Johnny!”
As Johnny enters the final few months of his illustrious playing career, there is an assumption that he will follow Mark into coaching.
“I think Johnny has got other plans but the game might find a way of getting him back into it,” Mark maintains. “We grew up with rugby, when we were young lads, we played in Bective, watched Bective, we went to Mary’s school, our dad (Jerry) was a big rugby fan. And now myself, Jerry and Johnny watch too much rugby. We have got three wives who are very good to us!
“Jerry would have been a great coach. He was very unlucky in South Africa, there was almost an opportunity to go coaching there. I think he would bite someone’s hand off if he got an opportunity to go into coaching, but at the moment, he’s a policeman in Jersey.
“He finished up with Doncaster and I think he had a 10-week training programme, so he’s on the beat now over there.”
We put the idea of Johnny one day being on the same coaching team as Mark: “It would be brilliant, I’d love it,” he says.
If that was to ever happen, would Mark be the boss considering he would be the more experienced coach?
“I don’t know about that,” he laughs knowingly. “We’ll see what the future holds for him and me.”
Having previously worked as a physical therapist in Dublin, Mark is now all in on his dream of coaching a professional team.
All signs suggest it’s only a matter of time before he makes the step up, especially now that a vacancy is about to open up in Connacht on the back of Mossy Lawler’s impending return to Munster.
“I packed it in, physical therapy was something on the side, so I could be a coach but also have some income,” Mark explains.
“I always wanted to be a pro player but I never got there. I love rugby, I love coaching, so then I wanted to be a pro coach.
“Connacht has been brilliant, absolutely brilliant. When something comes up that’s right for me and for whoever wants me, that will be the ultimate dream.”
In more immediate matters, there is a Grand Slam at stake, not that Mark or Johnny are getting ahead of themselves. Clearly they are cut from the same cloth.
“We’re only talking about Scotland but when you think about it like that, it really puts the hairs up on the back of your neck,” Mark adds. “It would be some weekend.”