Never dull between England and Ireland

The two teams have served up all sorts of twists and turns in their colourful history

 

Games Ireland won that they might have lost

1994: Ireland was beaten by France 35-15 and then Wales came to Dublin to add a second defeat, this time 15-17. In the final game of the series, the Irish team managed to only draw with Scotland 6-6 but prior to that match went to Twickenham despondent but ended up beating England by a point, 12-13.

Michael Bradley captained the Irish team that day and England had their kicker and fullback Jonathan Callard well grooved. He kicked four penalties for their 12 points but it was Simon Geoghegan’s try that stole the day as he burned Tony Underwood and Callard for a touchdown in the corner, Eric Elwood converting.

2001: England were storming along winning by massive margins under Clive Woodward. They put 44 points on poor Wales, and even greater 80 points on Italy, 43 points on Scotland and then 48 points on France, so what could go wrong with Ireland in the final match? Delayed due to foot and mouth, Brian O’Driscoll cheekily said it was Ireland’s turn to deny England “The Slam”. England threw the ball about and it failed. They went down in flames 20-14 in the final match of the series.

2004: They said at the time you normally have to wait until Cheltenham for a coup like this. England had become world champions the previous year for the first and only time and swept into the championship full of confidence. They had already beaten Italy and Scotland but Ireland took it to them at Twickenham and became the first side to beat the champs, 13-19. Hooker Steve Thompson called it “one of the worst days of my life” as England inconceivably lost 11 of their 19 lineout throws, outhalf Ronan O’Gara underpinning the win with 14 points and a calm tactical kicking game.

Games Ireland lost that they might have won

2003: Ireland swept into the championship beating Scotland 6-36 in Edinburgh, Italy away 13-37 and France 15-12 at home in Lansdowne Road. Wales were then dispatched by one point in the Millennium Stadium and Ireland faced England for a Grand Slam. Problem was England also came into the match with four wins. Remember the red carpet incident of Mary McAleese and Martin Johnson? Whoops. It seemed to help as England dealt Ireland a crushing 6-42 defeat to continue what would be an epic year for them.

2013: Ireland could have won the frantic game in Aviva Stadium but with 10 minutes remaining an Irish lineout developed into a rolling maul. The shrill blast of the referee’s whistle brought that to a halt as a prostrate Dylan Hartley appeared lying on the ground, the referee indicating that he came in from the side. A kickable penalty at 6-12 down. O’Gara’s boot would have brought it to 9-12 with plenty of time to squeeze. For once the reliable kicker missed and the ball drifted outside the near post for England to hold on 6-12

1988: England had not scored a try at Twickenham for two years and they found themselves in the dire position of being just one game away from becoming only the third team in Five Nations’ history to go through the entire competition without scoring a try.

However, Chris Oti turned up that day to put away Ireland. He scored the first hat-trick in the championship at Twickenham since 1924, his performance prompting an unlikely chorus of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ from a section of fans. The song became an unofficial anthem at England games ever since as England won 35-3.

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