By Bea Asprey in Paris
The match in 30 seconds
The RBS 6 Nations ended in a fairytale fashion rarely seen in sport as Brian O’Driscoll took home the title in his last ever Test match. France came out of the blocks firing and Ireland looked nervy in patches, but three tries to two won Ireland their first title since 2009, in Joe Schmidt’s first season as coach.
France – Tries: Dulin, Szarzewski. Cons: Machenaud 2. Pens: Machenaud 2.
Ireland – Tries: Sexton 2, Trimble. Cons: Sexton 2. Pen: Sexton.
– Ireland won 100% of their mauls to France’s 75% though France trumped them at the ruck – 97.6% to Ireland’s 95.2%
– France made more than three times as many offloads – 16 to Ireland’s five and also conceded 16 turnovers to Ireland’s four
– Mathieu Bastareaud ran more metres than any other player – 87 – but Andrew Trimble came in just short of him with 85
– The opensides topped their teams’ tackle stats – Alexandre Lapandry made 12 and Chris Henry made 15
– Philippe Saint-André: “High level rugby can be very cruel. France played very well but of course Ireland won. In the end it’s O’Driscoll who wins and leaves town with the trophy.”
– Saint-André also praised his young team for an improved result on last year, and says he is still very hopeful that this group can win the World Cup next year
– A satisfied Paul O’Connell said Ireland would need to address the final 20 minutes of the game at a later date, to ensure they are able to close games out with more composure
– He said: “We’ve had success in Munster and Leinster in recent years but this is where you really want to achieve as an Irishman – in the green jersey”
– Joe Schmidt: “I’ve worked with Brian for four years and he’s a man I respect immensely, and a player I really enjoy coaching. He’s been grooming a couple of guys to come in. I don’t think we’re about to fill his shoes – we’ll have to put in someone with slightly smaller feet, but hopefully they’ll grow into them”
– Schmidt confirmed that Sexton was concussed during the game, but said he was soon up and moving about, and that the support around his neck was purely precautionary
– Brian O’Driscoll: “I’m absolutely delighted. I played for one more year because I wanted to beat the All Blacks, and that didn’t happen, and I wanted to win the Six Nations. It’s 45 minutes or an hour after the game and I don’t want to take this jersey off, because I know when I do that I won’t put it on again. It would be a bit weird if I put it on at home…!”
What’s next for Ireland?
Ireland will go on tour without O’Driscoll this summer, and though Ulster’s Jared Payne is widely tipped to replace him in the autumn, he will not yet be Ireland-qualified. So Robbie Henshaw should deputise – a likely long-term option.
Sexton should be given the summer off after a long season in France following the Lions tour last summer, giving Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson a chance to make their mark on the Test scene.
The replacement front row need to be allowed to continue to develop, and a physical Argentina side will be the perfect testing ground for Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Martin Moore.