Tuesday 23 January 2018

English title triumph may be set for an anticlimactic finish

Back in 2001, England came to Lansdowne Road in search of the Grand Slam only to be defeated by a brilliant Keith Wood try and a committed Irish performance.

Martin Johnson, now manager of the team, was captain back then but was unavailable for that match.

Furious that England had thrown away another Grand Slam, Johnson was then forced to descend from the stands for a photo-shoot with a grinning stand-in captain Matt Dawson as the defeated English had still claimed the championship and the moment had to be recorded for posterity.

The fact that the Irish players were conducting a lap of honour at the time furrowed Johnson's bristling brows even further.

Ten years on, Ireland are hell-bent on denying them another Slam but, even if they lose, England look certainties to claim another championship barring a thumping Welsh win in Paris. However, the fact that the France-Wales clash takes place after the England-Ireland showdown means that, if Ireland triumph, there will be no post-match presentation ceremony in Lansdowne Road.

Instead, if England, as expected, still claim the Six Nations title, the trophy will have to be presented at the hotel later that evening, which would constitute a rather ignominious conclusion to the English campaign. HF

Irish Independent

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