Thursday 22 March 2018

Ireland draw strength from opening stalemate

IF the RBS Six Nations is measured by its claustrophobia - from the sweaty bars to the commingling, packed venues - the opening weekend did not disappoint.

It was the closest ever series of games, with a combined winning margin of just eight points aside from the Ireland/Wales draw, albeit only the sixth stalemate since five became six in 2000. Two of the others, of course, occurred between France and Ireland.

It was the first time Ireland started their Championship campaign with a draw - they last did so in 1979 against ... France!

The last time Wales and Ireland drew was in 1974, when Ireland, captained by Willie John McBride (above) missed nine shots at goal in a 9-9 at Lansdowne Road. They did, though, claim the title. An omen, perhaps?

O'Shea's secret out

It is the worst-kept secret in the Six Nations community that Conor O'Shea will take over Italy next season but even his current charges are finding it difficult to keep the news under wraps.

"Will I look forward to facing Italy coached by Conor next season?" says Harlequins and England full-back Mike Brown ahead of this weekend's clash with the Azzurri. "I would love it. Turning over Conor at Twickenham - that would make me happy. Conor has been great for the club, but things move on and we will crack on."

Brennan's bred them keen but will they wear green?

TREVOR Brennan won 12 Irish caps but made his name in the Top 14 and Heineken Cup with Toulouse - now his sons are following in his giant footsteps.

"Daniel played U-18s against Italy this week and has games against England and Wales before the European Cup in Portugal where I think Ireland are playing too," he told Touchlines.

"He is in Marcoussis (France HQ) all week and plays for the espoirs (youths) each weekend. And then Josh is a monster, 6' 5", 17stone. He is in with the France U-16s."

But for which country will they play their senior international rugby? "I'm staying out of that! Once they're happy, it'll be their decision, please God."

Quote of the day

"You cannot give strength to players when they are emotional. It is like asking a surgeon is he emotional when he goes to work." - France coach Guy Noves imparts some wisdom

Number of the day

18 Jack McGrath was the hardest working prop in Round 1 - he made 18 tackles and had 11 carries.

Compiled by David Kelly

Irish Independent

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