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Match Reaction: England 24 Ireland 28

Match Reaction: England 24 Ireland 28

Click here for post-match reaction to Ireland’s Triple Crown-confirming victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

…The corks are popped, the champagne flows and Brian O’Driscoll and his team mates get the Triple Crown celebrations under way at pitchside…

IRELAND COACH EDDIE O’SULLIVAN: “That was just a great way to win the Triple Crown. Two years ago when we won here we still hadn’t won anything and we had to go home and play Italy and then Scotland. We had to win (today) for the Triple Crown so that brought a lot of emotion and the nature of the win with a try in the last play was a great way to do it.

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“Shane (Horgan) has come of age this year. It was a tough autumn for him. He tried very hard – maybe too hard and wasn’t himself. The turning point of the 6 Nations was at half time in the French game when he was leader in the dressing room. He went out and performed in the second half and never looked back. I knew he had it in him.

“The team has taken a bit of flak so I have taken it too. But you have to believe in what you are doing. We are a united group. We stick together as a group of players and management. We have worked hard.

“There were doubts earlier in the year and they were understandable in some ways. I’m very happy we have come through it – it’s not about vindication. It’s about trying to become a better team. I knew the autumn would be difficult because we were playing Australia and New Zealand without Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell – two talismen.

“But we battled through and I knew the 6 Nations would be a dogfight as well and it hasn’t been easy. Adverse situations can make you weaker or stronger, and I am talking in relation to the team, but they have dug deep and come through it. We are a better team than we were six months ago because we have had difficult times.

“(Personally) I’m knackered. The players do all the physical stuff but you do all the mental stuff so after eight weeks of 14-hour days – I am absolutely exhausted. Then there’s the toll the game takes on you mentally – trying to concentrate for 80 minutes. I am happy and relieved, but very fatigued. I’d like to take a few days off but there are still a few bits and pieces to be looked after.”

ENGLAND COACH ANDY ROBINSON: “(On his job) I have a contract through to the end of the World Cup and I aim to honour it, so until I’m told differently – I’m the England coach. There is a lot of thinking to be done, a lot of soul-searching, but I remain passionate about this job. I believe we’re moving in the right direction and I have total belief in myself. I don’t expect to be going anywhere.

“People say we won a World Cup in circumstances similar to those we face now, but the sport has changed a great deal since 2003. For one thing, the Premiership is vastly more competitive. It is a superb base for professional rugby, but if we’re serious about making the best of ourselves we have to get the balance right. The moment we strike that balance, we’ll get the single inches and little edges we need to win major matches.

“Yes, Clive (Woodward) said all this before he resigned. Yes, he was right. I thought I could change things from within, but it hasn’t really happened.”

IRELAND CAPTAIN BRIAN O’DRISCOLL: “A massive amount of it is down to the knowledge that we’ve just beaten a great team. As bad as you boys in the media might make England out to be, we very rarely play against a poor England team and when you beat them – it’s only ever by a score – which has been the case for the last three years.

“This year we came to Twickenham and thankfully we were able to put in the type of performance were were talking about and promised all year.

“We’d always great belief in ourselves as a team. This 6 Nations has been a watershed of sorts for us. We felt we came together as a team. When you’re eight weeks in camp together and stuck in a hotel, sometimes it can feels like six months. But this year, the time passed so quickly and we enjoyed each others’ company. I’ve always felt that we’ve grown with each performance and it showed (today).”

IRELAND WINGER SHANE HORGAN: “(Scoring two tries and winning the Triple Crown) It’s a bit surreal, actually. I don’t know if you even dream about it, especially in a game like that one. I saw the passion our forwards showed, especially when we were down to 14 there for a while, it was just exceptional. I think guys like John Hayes, Jerry Flannery and Marcus Horan, the front rowers, and also Paul O’Connell and Denis Leamy – in fact all our pack – they really carried us through this whole season.

As a backline, we maybe didn’t fire as well as we could have through the Championship and those guys (in the pack) got us out of some fairly dark places and that’s where the credit likes for this Triple Crown.

“(For my second try) It was a bit of intensive work by the forwards and then it was magnificent vision by Peter (Stringer), he took it on a little run around the side of the ruck and then threw a ball over the top to me. And it was just a case of trying to stay out of touch and get the ball down.”

ENGLAND CENTRE JAMIE NOON: “We made improvements definitely, and we played most of the rugby, but we have come away with nothing. You’ve just got to bite your tongue really. The players were very disappointed at a couple of the decisions they thought they should have received, but the referee didn’t give them.

“The overall feeling is one of frustration. Ireland were struggling at times, and they had to work very hard for the win. It just goes to show we’ve got a good strong squad of players – it is just a matter of turning up and limiting the number of mistakes we’re making.

“Finishing fourth in the 6 Nations Championship for England is very disappointing, but we haven’t got time to sit around licking our wounds.”

…Andrew Trimble and Gordon D’Arcy celebrate with the Triple Crown trophy…

IRELAND SCRUM HALF PETER STRINGER: “After a slow and disappointing start in the autumn, I think we have gone from strength to strength with each game. I we can get close to a 70-80 minute performance, and not give teams a sniff of victory in the firstquarter, then we are a long way towards competing against the best teams in the world.

“(For the last try) England’s defence was up in a flat line, so I took the opportunity to get a ball out to Shane over the top. He did extremely well to stay in the field of play and ground it as well. Only a guy of his size and strength could have done it. This is just the kind of result we needed – there is no bigger stage than Twickenham to win a big game at.”

IRELAND LOCK PAUL O’CONNELL: “We had an expectation that, if we performed on the day, we should beat England. It was a question of matching their passion and their intensity.

“It’s a big step forward for us because, very often, when we have beaten England, or a Southern Hemisphere side, we have caught them on the hop. But I don’t think that was the case this time. We expected to win and we went out and did it. Winning a tight game against top opposition is a big step forward for us.

“England have been brilliant at Twickneham. We knew it was going to be really tough so, to come here and beat them when they were prepared to do anything and everything to win, is a big step for us.”

ENGLAND LOCK STEVE BORTHWICK: “The team needs time together to develop. A few losses doesn’t necessarily define you. I think it’s about how you react to those situations. We didn’t react well to our loss to Scotland and perhaps we didn’t react well to our first two wins.

“I won’t comment on the coaching. The players are responsible for what happens on the field. What you can’t see is what goes on behind the scenes. There has been a big increase in the individual responsiblity of all the players. Maybe in the past, we didn’t go that. For me, it’s about how the players prepare to perform.”

IRELAND WINGER ANDREW TRIMBLE: “So much has happened for me this season, but to beat England and win the Triple Crown was great – really just the icing on the cake.

“There was a lot of pressure out there. We had the Triple Crown on the line and England, after a number of disappointing performances, were desperate not to lose. You could feel it in the atmosphere and I just loved all my time on the pitch.

“From watching Ireland win a Triple Crown a couple of years ago, I thought I might get the opportunity to do that some time and it was great to get to do it so quickly. We had so many fans cheering us on – it was a fantastic experience.”

IRELAND OUT-HALF RONAN O’GARA: “It would have been sickening if we had lost it. We know that it would have always come back to haunt us. But it was a hugely satisfying victory. There is a consensus sometimes that English players are better than Irish players, but we have quality all over the field. Maybe it’s because Sky Sports are based over here – the English guys get blown out of proportion.”

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