The upcoming third round of matches in the 2014 RBS Six Nations will provide the most
fascinating yet, most notably England vs Ireland at Twickenham, writes Dominic Evans.
Two teams playing fluid,
attacking rugby. The hosts were unfortunate to lose to France, and a week later emphatically
embarrassed the Scottish. While the Irish are on a roll after thrashing both Scotland and
For Ireland especially, the England matches are a highlight of the rugby calendar. The two
countries share a long and complicated history. Violence between them provided terrible
atrocities, not until recently the tense relationship subsided. Throughout the Emerald Isle
reminders of the past exist everywhere. However in England, possibly due to an illustrious
history, the topic of Ireland is almost ignored.
When Martin Johnson’s England team travelled to Croke Park in 2006, the scene of Bloody
Sunday ninety years ago then, the whole management were taught the importance of their
visit. Yet, to fully comprehend an entire nation’s history in the space of a few hours is nigh
impossible. As an Englishman, living here for close to thirteen years, in approximately half of
my current residency do I truly understand the issue. On the fateful day, Ireland hammered
their cross -channel neighbours. Pride and passion were at an all-time high.
Sir Clive Woodward built a World Cup winning side by the time England won the Grand Slam
in Dublin in 2003. He also comprehended the resilience of the Irish to halt England
succeeding their goal. The visitors produced arguably their best performance with a
triumphant 30-3 win.
As I already alluded to, England teams have not always completely respected the once oppressed. They struggled for predominantly two factors post ’03, poor team selection and a lack of respect. Under Stuart Lancaster’s current reign, he has accomplished a respectable 100% success rate.
Looking ahead to Saturday pundits cannot split them apart. England’s new found dynamic
attacking style, promotes them to top many impressive statistics including most defenders
carries (268), 55 defenders beaten and most metres gained (1,079). While Ireland’s
demolition of the opposition in the preceding two rounds, demonstrates both have acquired
the missing ingredients for a multifaceted game. It can be argued England will be under less pressure as there is no risk of losing a Grand Slam. Home advantage also supplies an edge and comfort. Fascinating matchups in every position. With the media focusing on Owen Farrell-Jonny Sexton, Mike Brown-Rob Kearney, it can be argued the forward battle is where the match will be won and lost. England’s bench could be considered stronger with Ben Morgan, George Ford and Mako Vunipola all playing very well. Even with these aspects taken into consideration, it has a recipe for a classic encounter.
Let’s hope the rain steers clear, to allow free flowing witnessed by both sides so far. Of
course as an English supporter, I believe a home victory will be the result.
Pundit Arena, Dominic Evans.