BETFINAL’S LOOK AT THE WEEKEND –
Introducing our weekly preview of the sporting events happening every weekend! We will feature the main fixture of the week and a round-up of the sporting action ahead. A blog definitely worth keeping up with, whether it’s to better your understanding of what’s going on in your favourite team or to keep up with the lads when they’re talking about a sport you know nothing about!
Ireland Vs England – Saturday 17 March – 3.45PM – Twickenham, England
Roll out the kegs and wash off the pint glasses as Ireland prepares to invade the home of English rugby on St Patrick’s Day. The Irish are looking to seal the Six Nations Grand Slam for only the third time ever. For those not aware, a Grand Slam occurs when one of the six nations defeats every team during the championship. Ireland’s potential attainment of the Grand Slam title comes after England’s shock losses to Scotland and France in the last three weeks. Will the Irish provide the perfect party on St Patrick’s Day!?
England boss, Eddie Jones, ruffled the feathers of the Irish earlier this week when he referred to them as ‘scummy’. Is the bubble beginning to burst for Jones or is the pressure of three potential losses mounting?
Despite Ireland’s dominance, their biggest problems in the championship lie predominantly in defence. After conceding three tries against both Italy and Wales, the Irish team received a barrage of criticism about their defensive strategy. This led Joe Schmidt to stand up for his defence coach, Andy Farrell, referring to him as ‘world class’. Interestingly, Farrell Jr (Owen Farrell) will be leading the England backline on Saturday hoping to expose his father’s defensive system and ruin the party. The Irish defence responded to the harsh words by only conceding one try against Scotland last weekend, can they go one better this weekend?
We highlight the talisman’s duel at fly-half as key to unlocking the game. Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton have been in scintillating form recently.
But, which fly-half will lead their pack to victory?
What is the significance of this Grand Slam?
The significance of a Grand Slam win for Irish on Paddy’s day would only be equalled if a rally of leprechauns turned up at every pub on match day and divvied out pots of gold to every Guinness-glugging patron in their field of vision…. Ireland are on the brink of sealing only their third Grand Slam since the Six Nations began in 1883.
Exactly a year ago England travelled to Ireland in the hope of a clean sweep, however the Irish resisted. The tables have turned and it is now Ireland’s chance to do what they prevented England from doing in 2001, 2011 and 2017. Can they return to home soil and replicate the feat of the famous 2009 Ireland side?
Seven of the 23-man squad who represented Ireland against Scotland last week were between the ages of 11 and 14 when they were last crowned Grand Slam Champions. 9 years on, will this be the greatest triumph since O’Driscoll and Co.? Or greater?
St Patrick’s Day is traditionally a day when people come together in celebration but this is not the sentiment of the Irish team this year. In the words of Schmidt “It’s us against them”.
Could England’s nightmare campaign really end in such a manner, or will the passion of the team give reason for the English to celebrate this St Patrick’s day?