A simply unforgettable weekend in rugby history. No prizes for guessing what category Ireland come under.
A second victory in 42 years in Paris secured Ireland’s twelfth Championship win. The heroes in green produced a performance of courage, commitment and skill as they managed to defeat a vastly improved French team 22-20. Tries from Jonny Sexton and Andrew Trimble will go down in Irish rugby folklore along with Brian O’Driscoll’s tears. From chumps to champions in 12 months! Maith sibh, lads! Maith sibh!
The French referee must be commended for the action he took over the Stuart Hogg incident. After initially sending the Scotland full-back to the sin-bin for his dangerous challenge on Dan Biggar, Garçes saw the replays on the big screen and proceeded to show Hogg a red card. If more referees had the confidence to admit that their first decision was incorrect and were brave enough to overturn it after reviewing incidents, rugby would be a better game for it.
A 15-8 win over Northampton Saints at Sandy Park handed the Devon side their first major trophy in a 143 years of existence. Scores from Chris Whitehead and Captain Dean Mumm set the Chiefs on the road to glory. Despite the Saints late pressure, the Exeter defence held out to claim their most prised scalp to date.
Georgia & Romania
Europe’s second tier competition ended with Georgia being crowned champions. The campaign doubled up as Europe’s qualification for next year’s World Cup. Georgia’s reward is to be placed in Pool C with New Zealand and Romania will play against Ireland in Pool D.
Jacques Brunel’s side turned in their worst performance of the championship as England thumped the Azzurri 52-11. Italy were dreadful. They could not hold onto the ball and their tackling was poor. The Italians recorded five losses from five games and are awarded with the dreaded Wooden Spoon.
The Scottish full-back was shown a red card after a late shoulder charge on Wales’ flyhalf, Dan Biggar. Hogg can have no complaints after his act of thuggery and should expect a lengthy ban. He let himself, the supporters and most importantly his teammates down. Mór an t-amadán thú, Stuart!
Jean Marc Doussain
It is fair to say that Doussain has not had the best of Championships and Saturday was not much better. The French replacement scrum half missed an easy penalty in the last ten minutes which would have handed Les Bleus a dramatic win. What magnifies his costly miss, is that he replaced Machenaud, a man who could not miss from the kicking tee.
The basement Basque club lost their seventeenth match of the season against fellow strugglers Oyonnax 24-22 at the Parc des Sports Aquiléra. Nineteen points from safety with only five games left, the fat lady is clearing her throat to signal the end of Serge Blanco’s side’s spot at the top table of French rugby.
Pundit Arena, Matt Cassidy.