Expert View - Ollie Campbell: ‘Just a Triple Crown away from a Grand Slam’

Ollie Campbell receives a Hall of Fame award at The Leinster Awards Ball in 2016. Pic: Sportsfile

Ireland’s form this season is remarkable, we’re now 11 wins in a row, we’re number two in the world, already we’re champions with a game in hand so these are great days and we should embrace it for what it is.

We have won the championship but I’m sure the team and I’m certain the supporters to a man, woman, and child, don’t want to find themselves in the same position as did England just this time last year, taking receipt for the championship trophy but not being acclaimed for Triple Crown and Grand Slam wins alongside it.

If the same was to happen to Ireland it would surely be a bit of an anti-climax for the players because they’re no longer happy to settle for less than going through the season unbeaten. That’s what it is all about now; a Grand Slam and a sense of rugby immortality. We’re just a Triple Crown away from a Grand Slam!

The fact that we have only won two Grand Slams in our history — but tack on another for the Irish women — in so many years is indicative of how difficult it is to reach that goal. It’s the kind of thing that most young rugby players would only be dreaming about; winning a Grand Slam is really the ultimate.

In terms of England, we have to acknowledge that Twickenham is quite a fortress; away wins in the Six Nations, with the exception of teams going to Rome, are very rare indeed. In the last few years such victories have become even more difficult and that’s why of course, that winning the Grand Slam is such a rarity. This year, only Ireland has won a game on the road and we must take stock of how hard it is to beat England at Twickenham in particular. They just don’t do losing there, do they?

However, on the bright side, I think current form and momentum is with us, or at least on our side, so there is the balancing act. We are very well coached team, very precise in things we are doing, we’re well drilled and disciplined, incredibly efficient and we’re becoming incredibly clinical as well.

I think we have the best coach in the world, I don’t believe there is any question of that, we have the best half backs in the world and we have a lovely balance, a good mixture between experienced guys like Rob Kearney and Rory Best and then you have this influx of an exuberant group of players like Dan Leavy and James Ryan who play without fear.

You have a confident team (Ireland) on the one hand against a team that suddenly over two games seem to have lost their way a little bit. There are pros and cons there; history is against us but I believe current form and momentum could be the force on our side. I would, however, be cautious and wary of England; they won’t want to end their season having lost three in succession.


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Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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