The opening weekend of the Six Nations in Dublin is always a cracker, but this year with England in town, the atmosphere in the city was electric. The clash of the titans usually takes place much later in the competition, but the Rugby gods mixed things up, with many believing the winner of this match would go onto lift the trophy. With England not winning in Dublin since 2003, the stage was set for a remarkable weekend. Could England change recent history? Winning this fixture would put Eddie Jones’ men in good stride of getting their hands on their own pot of gold in six weeks’ time.
The English arrived in joyous spirits, with Swing lo Sweet Chariot being belted out before we had even left the airport, clearly confident ahead of the weekend. Over 1,300 of our clients were in Dublin in multiple Hotels with easy access to the Temple Bar and Aviva stadium. With the match on the Saturday, everyone took advantage of everything Dublin had to offer and soaked up the atmosphere of a special weekend.
Before the game, many of our clients had opted to join us for our Clubhouse event, hosted by former England 7’s captain Ollie Phillips, featuring Neil Back MBE (World Cup winner and 3 times Lion) and Rob Henderson (Former Ireland international winning 29 caps and toured with the 2001 British and Irish Lions, winning 3 caps). What followed left the crowd amazed with great insight into professional sport at the highest level, to tears of laughter with stories from their playing days involving the rivalries, friendships, boozy post-match parties and even included Neil Back downing a pint of Guinness within 8 seconds…impressive stuff.
It was a cold, crisp, clear afternoon in Dublin with Irish swarming Dublin’s streets forming a sea of green, passionately cheering and singing on their team, making their way to the Aviva Stadium. The English were also in full voice, with both National anthems being bellowed out by their supporters. Going into the game the Irish were the favourites given the recent history, but that didn’t faze England one bit, who started electrically and scoring a try within 91 seconds of kick-off after a bullet pass from Farrell took out the Irish defence, creating space for a two on one for Daley to draw in the Irish fullback and release May to score. The celebrations were short lived with Curry receiving a yellow card in the 12th minute which could have changed the game. With the Irish scoring a converted try the game was back in the balance until the 30th minute when England scored after Daly played a cute grubber into the corner for the Irish defender to fumble after a Jack Nowell tackle, with Daly reaping the rewards of following in his kick to score, clearly justifying Eddie Jones’ decision to start him ahead of Mike Brown. After a near try by England on the stroke of half-time the scores at 10-17 to England at the interval with it all to play for in the second half.
England started the second half strongly, being on the front foot defensively and not giving the Irish a yard. England increased their lead in the 65th minute with Slade chasing May’s kick with the TMO awarding the try after Slade stayed onside by a boot length. Slade added to his tally with a second try in the 75th minute after intercepting a pass in the Irish 22, showing great hands to catch the ball in the first place and dive over the line. With a minute to go Cooney scored a consolation try for Ireland. However, it was too little too late, and England ended their drought in Dublin with an emphatic win over the Irish.
Following the game many of our clients made their way to the Temple Bar area to celebrate the victory in style, with the English supporters convinced this is their tournament. A six nations weekend in Dublin is a must for any Rugby fan and this weekend will live long in the memory for all.