Six Nations Miscellany: Furlong’s fond memory of his first cap
Paul O’Connell presented prop with his jersey on what was to be his last home game
Tadhg Furlong and Paul O’Connell in action during the 2015 Rugby World Cup warm-up game against Wales at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Rob Henderson goes over for one of his three tries in the Six Nations game against Italy at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome in February 2001. Photograph: Patrick Bolger/Inpho
The Aviva stadium on August 29th, 2015 will always be a place in time that binds Tadhg Furlong and Paul O’Connell in the context of a rugby milestone. Furlong made his Ireland debut in the World Cup warm-up game against Wales as a second-half replacement for Nathan White.
The game marked O’Connell’s last in Dublin as he went on to suffer a career-ending injury against France in the Rugby World Cup pool match at the Millennium stadium six weeks later. In the build-up to that Welsh game, a 16-10 defeat for the home side, O’Connell presented Furlong with his first Irish jersey.
The Wexford prop recalled: “My first cap was Paulie’s last game in the Aviva. He presented me with my jersey which was pretty cool. At that stage it was pretty cool to get your first jersey off Paul O’Connell.” The two are now reunited with Ireland, albeit with a different relationship, with O’Connell an assistant coach.
Furlong confirmed that his former team-mate had fitted snugly into his new role. “Paulie has been very good. I suppose he works hand in hand with the lineout callers, a lot more hands on than with me personally. Paulie knows what he wants and he drives it, he’s very clearcut. It’s been great to work with him.”
Mitchell: England not changing approach despite red peril
England defence coach John Mitchell doesn’t want his players backing off making dominant tackles despite the spate of red cards in recent Six Nations and English Premiership matches. He explained: “The only thing we can control is making sure we are disciplined in our practice in terms of the height of our tackles.
“That gives players a better chance to not be sanctioned, but ultimately you still really want to be dominant in your contact. We can’t control the mitigating circumstances for slipping or sudden changes from high to low, so it’s a matter of making sure we practise the right height.
“The one way around it is that we continue to practise tackle dominance in the best possible way that is going to give the players the best chance of not receiving a sanction.”
All hail Hendo , another Rome hat-trick king
In referring to the hat-trick of tries scored by CJ Stander and Craig Gilroy against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in 2017 in Tuesday’s column, it’s only fair to highlight the first Irish player to manage that feat, Rob Henderson; coincidentally it also took place in Rome but this time at the Stadio Flaminio (2001), a charming, noisy amphitheatre.
That Six Nations Championship match was famous for two things, Henderson’s hat-trick and the sending off of scrumhalf Alessandro Troncon, the current Italian defence coach, for striking his Irish counterpart Peter Stringer. A small shout out too to former Leinster and Ireland prop, Dr Emmet Byrne, who made his debut that afternoon.
Henderson, who scored six tries in 29 caps for Ireland was a brilliant foil to Brian O’Driscoll both in the green jersey and the red of the Lions, as a midfield partnership in the 2001 series against Australia.
Word of mouth
“I know I made the wrong decision once or twice [against France]. If I read the pictures better in that moment then it might create a different outcome [and] that might create a different narrative.” – Ireland Garry Ringrose is typically honest and self critical in the pursuit of getting better.
By the numbers: 95
The number of minutes that Tadhg Furlong reckons he’s enjoyed in a match environment since returning from several injuries that had kept him sidelined since last season’s Six Nations.
On this day: February 24th, 1952
Ireland were held to a 3-3 draw by Argentina in the first of two Tests – no caps were awarded by the visitors – on their tour of South America. The Irish touring party played one match in Chile against the national side (won 30-0) and then eight in Argentina. The tour coincided with the death of Eva Peron, the wife of Argentina’s president Juan Peron, just six days after the Irish squad left Dublin and as a result it was almost cancelled.
Ireland captain Des O’Brien, one of several survivors from the 1948 Grand Slam team, led the tourists to a 6-0 victory in the second Test against the Pumas with tries from Malay-born UCD wing Michael Hillary and Old Belvedere flanker Michael Dargan. Johnny O’Meara, who won 19 of his 22 caps as Jack Kyle’s halfback partner, scored the Irish try in the drawn first Test.