While England handler Clive Woodward garnered another victory- 35-13 - over the hapless Scots on Saturday, he seemed more preoccupied withthe live pop music that was played before the teams came out on to the pitchbut judging by the Irish barnstorming 36-15 victory against the Welsh heshould concentrate his mind with matters on the pitch. "We should be careful this is a sport not a popconcert," said the recently ennobled knight of the realm perhaps forgetting that 60,000 or sospectators were there to be entertained as well prior to the match.
"We are here to play a rugby match not sing songs,"added the former stylish England back.
His Irish counterpart O'Sullivan, though, was able to focus on thereal matter in hand and having seen his side run in six tries he couldlook positively at visiting Fortress Twickenham. "It was a good performance for 60 minutes but sloppy for thelast 20," said the 45-year-old.
"We had had to make some changes which unsettled us butoverall I am very happy. If we'd lost, it would have been a setback but now we've got somemomentum going to Twickenham.
"Hopefully we'll get another six tries against England!"joked O'Sullivan.
The Irish, though, will hope to have their new centres partnershipof talismanic captain Brian O'Driscoll, 25, and 24-year-old GordonD'Arcy reunited for the England match as once the latter had to go off witha back injury the Irish lost their momentum.
However O'Driscoll indicated with a two-try performance on hisreturn from injury that the English could be in for another dynamic display fromthe man labelled the best centre in the world. "It was hugely important to win - there was a lot to be saidabout it being make or break for our Six Nations. Now we can go over to Twickenhamwith some confidence," said O'Driscoll, whose two tries took him to 23 inhis career and second on the all-time list of Irish tryscorers.
All Black great and former captain Sean Fitzpatrick was lefthugely impressed by the Irish performance, though he said they should havewon by more. "The Irish pack treated the Welsh one with contempt," hesaid.
Whether they can repeat such a feat against the English juggernautis
For the Welsh it is a case of rebounding from the shock of losingso badly and the simple task of beating France! However the way the French underperformed against the Italians inParis in their 25-0 victory on Saturday should give the Welsh hope and astheir stand-in captain Martyn Williams said, they as a squad, have been through a fewsuch demoralising defeats and survived. "Of course we can raise our game for the French as we've beenthrough a lot together. We knew as a side we weren't a finished article but it takestime to get there and yes it's a setback," said Williams, who was standingin for the injured Colin Charvis.
Charvis is essential to Wales being able to counter the threat ofthe stunning French backrow whose youngest member Imanol Harinordoquyscored a brace of tries in the victory over Italy.
France manager Jo Maso was frank about how important the trip toWales on March 7th would be. "It will tell us how far this young side hasprogressed," said the former great French back.
Meanwhile the two sides vying for the wooden spoon, Scotland and Italytake each other on in Rome and the hosts' coach John Kirwan is adamant that hesees this match as a must win for his side. "If we can win more lineout ball and have 50% ofpossession then I think the victory over Scotland is doable," said the 39-year-oldformer All Black legend.
Scotland coach Matt Williams' induction into international rugbycoaching could hardly have been worse - two played and two defeats - but theAussie saw reason to be optimistic after the England defeat. "There's no such thing as a good loss. We are all guttedbecause we could and should have done better but we are also very proud anddelighted we have taken the first step.
"They earned a better scoreline but rugby doesn't always dothe right thing that way."
Williams will hope that the reverse is the case next time againstthe Italians otherwise the wooden spoon looms, the Irish on the otherhand will be looking to deprive the English of what they took from them last year- the Grand Slam.
The champagne corks would be popping in the Irish dressingroom andperhaps some pop music being played - though hopefully not in Woodward'shearing!