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Ireland face injured England for historic Grand Slam

venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin date: Saturday, March 18th kick off: 17:00 GMT
coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Ulster. Follow live text commentary on the BBC Sports website and app

The 2023 Six Nations has reached what promises to be a compelling climax for Grand Slam-chasing Ireland, with an injured England in Dublin over St Patrick’s Day weekend.

Saturday’s tournament closer at Aviva Stadium could be a big step in Ireland’s journey under Andy Farrell.

Entering the tournament as the world’s No. 1 team, the Irish deftly advanced through the first four rounds as they sought their fourth Grand Slam title and first in Dublin.

After a memorable 2022 that included a Test series victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand, six months after the World Cup in France, a clean sweep in the Six Nations would be the final statement.

England is in another boat. With France’s title hopes ruthlessly dashed at Twickenham last week, a team led by Steve Borthwick returned to Dublin with his two main objectives of restoring pride and ruining the Irish party. Arrived at

Of course, England isn’t the only country with plans to rain on the Irish parade, as France can still retain the title. However, in order to seize the opportunity Les Bleus must beat Wales in Paris (14:45 GMT) Before Ireland and England take to the pitch at Lansdowne Road.

“Super Saturday” opens Scotland to host Italy at Murrayfield (12:30 GMT), broadcast live on BBC One.

“Despair is a disease”

Ireland have dealt with everything the Six Nations has thrown at them, from losing key players to injuries to racking up wins when they’re not at their best.

Ireland’s most impressive display came in the second round against France in Dublin, where Farrell’s side went 32-19 in an epic battle between the world’s top two teams.

Beating the holders was a big feeling, but beating England to complete a Grand Slam for the first time in Dublin brought even more pressure, with Farrell letting his players cool off in the middle of a ‘circus’. I was asked to show the

“Everyone, all this [the media] It’s about to be written, it all becomes part of the circus and manages it all,” he said.

“But the reality is that anyone who has ever played in the big game crosses that white line and all bets are off. It’s business time, right?”

“Anyway, all emotions are removed in the first five minutes, and after that you have to do your best.

“For me, despair is a disease. You want to avoid it.

“You can’t be precise if you’re desperate. Being cool enough to be yourself and controlled enough to be precise when it matters is a trait we all strive for.” .”

England want to make amends for Twickenham humiliation

It’s an important match for England, who want to erase the pain of their worst home defeat in 113 years in Test rugby against France last week, even if they don’t have a chance to win the title.

For Borthwick, who replaced Eddie Jones as head coach in December, Saturday offers an opportunity to get England back on track in the final competition before the World Cup.

But considering Ireland have won their last 13 Tests at home, it will be a big question.

Borthwick said: “After a disappointing match against an exceptional French team, we know we have to improve further to meet the challenges of facing the number one team in the world. .

“But we have seen an English team determined to make amends for their loss at Twickenham.

“I’m sure the team that has been announced wants to once again show the kind of resilience and attitude that brought them victory in Wales.”

A graphic comparing the stats of Ireland and England in the 2023 Six Nations

expert opinion

Former England scrum-half Danny Care on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Daily Podcast: “You can forgive mistakes in decision-making and skill execution, but the one thing you can’t compromise on in rugby, especially when you’re wearing an England shirt, is never give up.

“I don’t think we’ll see a problem with England’s attitude this weekend. The players and coaches won’t let that happen.”

“I think Ireland will win, but England will give a more combative performance.”

Former Irish and British and Irish Lions wing Shane Hogan: “Ireland are very confident and very relaxed in their ability to deliver performances.

“That confidence has been built up over the years. They won the tour in New Zealand, beat every team in the southern hemisphere and Ireland were really dominant against France.

“They are confident in their abilities and are not looking over their shoulders.”

Sexton v Farrell

As ever, the performances of Ireland and England will be decided by the fly-half, which has had contrasting narratives in recent weeks.

This is built as Johnny Sexton’s big day. It was the last Six in his game for the Irish captain and he was able to establish himself in Irish sporting history by becoming the first skipper to win a grand his slam in Dublin. increase.

He also needs just one more point to pass his predecessor Ronan O’Gara to become the all-time Six Nations all-time scoring record holder.

Meanwhile, England fly-half Owen Farrell (son of Ireland head coach Andy) is seeking redemption after being demoted to Marcus Smith in France’s defeat.


Ireland: Keenan; Hansen, Henshaw, Aki, Lowe. Sexton (Captain), Gibson Park. Porter, Sheehan, Furlong. Baird, Ryan. O’Mahoney, van der Fryer, Doris.

Replacement: Herring, Healy, O’Toole, Treadwell, Conan, Murray, R Byrne, O’Brien.

England: Stewards; Watson, Slade, Tuiragi, Arundel. Farrell (c), Van Poortvliet; Genji, George, Sinkler, Itoje, Libbane, Ludlum, Willis, Donbrandt.

Replacement: Walker, M Vnipola, Cole, Izikwe, B Curry, Mitchell, Smith, Merchant.

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