It would be fair to say that as anti-climatic and disappointing as last Saturday in the Aviva was, it hardly constituted the sort of crisis and crossroads Irish rugby was looking at the last time we played and lost an opening Six Nations game to England, writes
It’s a fixture which Connacht have only won four times in 29 meetings but coach Kieran Keane is hoping that Tiernan O’Halloran’s decision to remain at the Sportsground will be the start of a great festive period.
Thankfully it wasn’t all about the game itself on a bright summer’s day at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday. At least two stand-out moments came from the two Ulster players who were bidding farewell to a venue they had graced on numerous occasions.
Ireland, their Six Nations hopes still alive, will enter the white heat of a Friday night appointment at the Principality Stadium with head coach Joe Schmidt trusting his leaders in an unchanged team to keep emotions in check on what promises to be another high-octane showdown with Wales.
Good news on the Jonathan Sexton fitness front this afternoon and, though he will certainly start in the Six Nations against the French this Saturday if that continues, the gap between the Leinster ten and Ulster’s Paddy Jackson has narrowed appreciably.
Ireland flew into Edinburgh last night with what head coach Joe Schmidt described as a “quiet confidence” that the players he will send into the RBS 6 Nations fray at Murrayfield tomorrow can ignore the hype surrounding Scotland and continue their winning ways.