10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
While England handler Clive Woodward garnered another victory - 35-13 - over the hapless Scots on Saturday, he seemed more preoccupied with the live pop music that was played before the teams came out on to the pitch but judging by the Irish barnstorming 36-15 victory against the Welsh he should concentrate his mind with matters on the pitch. "We should be careful this is a sport not a pop concert," said the recently ennobled knight of the realm perhaps forgetting that 60,000 or so spectators 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 the real matter in hand and having seen his side run in six tries he could look positively at visiting Fortress Twickenham. "It was a good performance for 60 minutes but sloppy for the last 20," said the 45-year-old.
"We had had to make some changes which unsettled us but overall I am very happy. If we'd lost, it would have been a setback but now we've got some momentum 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 partnership of talismanic captain Brian O'Driscoll, 25, and 24-year-old Gordon D'Arcy reunited for the England match as once the latter had to go off with a back injury the Irish lost their momentum.
However O'Driscoll indicated with a two-try performance on his return from injury that the English could be in for another dynamic display from the man labelled the best centre in the world. "It was hugely important to win - there was a lot to be said about it being make or break for our Six Nations. Now we can go over to Twickenham with some confidence," said O'Driscoll, whose two tries took him to 23 in his career and second on the all-time list of Irish tryscorers.
All Black great and former captain Sean Fitzpatrick was left hugely impressed by the Irish performance, though he said they should have won by more. "The Irish pack treated the Welsh one with contempt," he said.
Whether they can repeat such a feat against the English juggernaut is another matter but the boost of putting Wales's renaissance - yet another one - and ridiculing the belief that the Irish were a spent force, could prove invaluable.
For the Welsh it is a case of rebounding from the shock of losing so badly and the simple task of beating France! However the way the French underperformed against the Italians in Paris in their 25-0 victory on Saturday should give the Welsh hope and as their stand-in captain Martyn Williams said, they as a squad, have been through a few such demoralising defeats and survived. "Of course we can raise our game for the French as we've been through a lot together. We knew as a side we weren't a finished article but it takes time to get there and yes it's a setback," said Williams, who was standing in for the injured Colin Charvis.
Charvis is essential to Wales being able to counter the threat of the stunning French backrow whose youngest member Imanol Harinordoquy scored a brace of tries in the victory over Italy.
France manager Jo Maso was frank about how important the trip to Wales on March 7th would be. "It will tell us how far this young side has progressed," said the former great French back.
Meanwhile the two sides vying for the wooden spoon, Scotland and Italy take each other on in Rome and the hosts' coach John Kirwan is adamant that he sees this match as a must win for his side. "If we can win more lineout ball and have 50% of possession then I think the victory over Scotland is doable," said the 39-year-old former All Black legend.
Scotland coach Matt Williams' induction into international rugby coaching could hardly have been worse - two played and two defeats - but the Aussie saw reason to be optimistic after the England defeat. "There's no such thing as a good loss. We are all gutted because we could and should have done better but we are also very proud and delighted we have taken the first step.
"They earned a better scoreline but rugby doesn't always do the right thing that way."
Williams will hope that the reverse is the case next time against the Italians otherwise the wooden spoon looms, the Irish on the other hand 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 and perhaps some pop music being played - though hopefully not in Woodward's hearing!