Ireland repeats Six Nations title with just enough | Sports


Irishman Jordan Larmour in action during the match against Scotland.Clodagh Kilcoyne (REUTERS)

Ireland arrived this Saturday with the goal of the Six Nations to repeat in Dublin the title that it achieved through the big door in 2023. The Grand Slam – winning all the matches – is the difference between the notable and the honorary degree in the classic of the northern hemisphere and the Irish saw how England snatched from them seven days ago in London the milestone of being the first team to win two in a row since the club had six seats, in 2000. Their victory against Scotland was an incomplete tribute to Saint Patrick in the great national weekend, but with their victory against Scotland (17-13) they secured their sixth title with the new name, the same as France and one less than England.

In the Six Nations of absences, Ireland was the one who felt the least: the withdrawal of Jonathan Sexton, their captain and the best fly-half in their history. From their categorical victory in Marseille against France – the great contender, devalued by the desire of their star, Antoine Dupont, to play in the Paris Games in rugby sevens – to two other victories with the offensive bonus point against Wales and Italy. They were close to saving a bad game against England, who had to wait until the last moment to assert their superiority. A lack of spark that kept the duel against Scotland in limbo, whose victory would have given the English options against France in the last game of the French tournament.

All in all, the narrowness of the score was the only threat for a Scotland nullified in attack, even though they celebrated going only one down at half-time (7-6) after a rude error by George Turner when putting the ball into play from the wing that gave the essay to Dan Sheehan. The green forward imposed an incontestable territorial dominance that did not translate into tries. Ireland did not want to add three by three, even if a draw or a defeat by seven points or less was enough. They rejected several easy penalty shots to score between the sticks and opted to play hand in hand with the forwards, without tactical hiding places. Old-fashioned rugby.

This is how Andrew Porter solved the problem, extending the lead with quarter of an hour remaining against a defense with numerical inferiority after repeated fouls to avoid the Irish try on the goal line. This is how Scotland gave up – there are now ten defeats in a row against the XV del Trébol –, once again a contender, once again defeated by two tight finals against France and Italy. Like the one in Dublin, another duel fought until the last minute after Huw Jones’ try. Not even with a fallible host did Dublin fall, which saw its team’s 19th consecutive victory.

The title is Irish, but the team of the tournament is Italy, which won in Cardiff by 21-24, a score that does not show its superiority in the first hour of play. Order on all lines, with captain Michele Lamaro as a world-class striker and the groundbreaking talent of Paolo Garbisi, Tommaso Menoncello and Monty Ioane. The makeup did not free Wales from their first Wooden Spoon – losing every game – since 2003. The Italians, who lost seven years and 36 games between 2015 and 2022, reach their peak. For the first time, they have three games without losing after beating Scotland and drawing in France.

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