Considering that everyone has been in such a rush to give Ireland the title, it seems only right that the new champions should now be in line for a golden handshake.

Provided their coronation at Twickenham goes according to plan, a first emerald Grand Slam won in London will ensure that the rest of the Six Nations club together to raise €1,000,000 in collective gratitude.

One more win, therefore, will be the cue for a racket similar to a battery of fruit machines coughing up in glorious harmony all over Caesar’s Palace.

The giving that Ireland has commanded from every opponent en route to a title secured a good deal further inside the distance than any other, now has the potential to go through the roof.

Already assured some €4m that figure will rise to €5m if, as all of Ireland now demands, St Patrick’s Day comes decorated with the most climactic of victories.

In that event the rest will all take less by way of prize money to give Ireland more, the subtractions adding up to an extra one per cent bonus which works out as near as €1m as makes no difference.

The agreed crumbling of the cookie leaves England, France, Italy, Scotland and Wales no option but to stump up.

This, therefore, stands to be the most rewarding of Slams, all in acute contrast to the first one 70 years ago tomorrow when Dr Karl Mullen’s pioneers were hard pressed to buy a drink, what with the bar of their Belfast hotel, The Grand, all boarded and shuttered by ten o’clock that night.

A few of the thirstier players headed out in search of a drink only to run into an Orange flute band and finish up in temporary police custody over the ensuing skirmish.

There will be no danger of history repeating itself this coming Saturday night if only because Twickenham doesn’t have a flute band, Orange or otherwise.

Ireland’s monopoly of this Six Nations is like Manchester City’s of the Premier League. Nobody, probably least of all Joe Schmidt, could have imagined his squad with almost twice as many points as the second-placed team – nine clear of the field as they were yesterday morning before Wales filled their boots against Italy and cut the lead to eight.

Along the way they somehow persuaded every opponent to play into their hands, literally so. France, for reasons even they still cannot understand, stood off just about every one of the 41 rucks for fear of giving Jonny Sexton the shot at goal which he took anyway.

Italy’s eight-try capitulation followed and when Wales created the illusion of an Irish team on the ropes, Stockdale reached for the sky to catch the manna from heaven falling in his general direction by courtesy of Gareth Anscombe.

Scotland’s action replay, all the more obliging for its early arrival, allowed Stockdale to home in on another gift, this one all wrapped up from Peter Horne, and ease Ireland out of an uncomfortable first half hour.

Huw Jones, Stuart Hogg and Horne shredded Ireland three times thereafter, the poverty of the final pass ensuring that the Six Nations became a one-horse race.

England’s unwitting generosity in playing the role of compliant guests to perfection in Paris and Edinburgh suggests they will be hard pushed to stop Ireland helping themselves.

Anything extravagant chucked vaguely within Stockdale’s reach will put the dethroned champions back into their default position behind the posts.


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