How Twickenham ground staff aided Ireland’s victory

Jacob Stockdale’s record breaking try just before half time was helped by the endline

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale scores his side’s third try during the Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham Stadium, London. Photo: Paul Harding/PA Wire

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale scores his side’s third try during the Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham Stadium, London. Photo: Paul Harding/PA Wire

 

Ireland’s Grand Slam triumph owes everything to Jacob Stockdale’s record-breaking scoring exploits — but also an unwitting helping hand from Twickenham’s ground staff.

Head coach Joe Schmidt’s class of 2018 need never work again after claiming just a third NatWest 6 Nations Grand Slam for Ireland — with a 24-15 victory at England’s traditional stronghold, and on St Patrick’s Day to boot.

Ulster wing Stockdale set a new record of seven tries in one championship in the Six Nations era, as Ireland echoed the exploits of the 1948 and 2009 clean sweep winners.

The 21-year-old would have already been in the dead-ball area when he dotted down however — had England not extended their in-goal area in the build-up to Saturday’s breathless encounter.

Never in Ireland’s wildest dreams could they have imagined beating England by a record Twickenham scoreline to seal a Grand Slam in this London fortress.

It is even more preposterous still then that England’s decision to extend their in-goal area gifted Stockdale the room to dot down from his own chip and chase.

At just 21 years of age, Stockdale boasts 11 tries in just nine Test matches — and a Grand Slam triumph the like of which generations of Irish internationals simply never got anywhere near.

Ireland became just the second team in Five or Six Nations history to complete a Grand Slam at Twickenham, emulating the France team of 1981.

There was nothing “scummy” about this Irish performance, with England boss Eddie Jones made to eat his words that surfaced in a YouTube video in midweek.

The England head coach’s controversial criticism of Ireland and Wales came to light on Wednesday, but dated back to a talk for Mitsubishi parent company Fuso in July 2017. Jones could do little save swallow those words as his England side were comprehensively undone by Schmidt’s regimented men, on their home territory.

Garry Ringrose’s sweet footwork kept England busy in midfield, but it was his neat touchdown from Johnny Sexton’s high bomb that handed Ireland their first try.

CJ Stander had the presence of mind to barge into the base of the post for the second — capping a set move where Tadhg Furlong sent Bundee Aki hurtling through England’s line.

Tighthead props are not meant to throw game-breaking passes, but therein lay the beauty of Schmidt’s latest cunning plan. The world’s best coach has driven the globe’s second-best team into Ireland’s annals.

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