Click here for photos of the Triple Crown trophy presentation and celebrations at Twickenham on Saturday.
Pictured above: Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll lifts the new Triple Crown trophy at Twickenham, while IRFU President Andy Crawford (left) shows his delight.
Saturday’s defeat of England marked Ireland’s eighth Triple Crown success, adding to previous Crowns in 1894 (beat England 7-5, Scotland 5-0, Wales 3-0), 1899 (beat England 6-0, Scotland 9-3, Wales 3-0), 1948 (beat England 11-10, Scotland 6-0, Wales 6-3), 1949 (beat England 14-5, Scotland 13-3, Wales 5-0), 1982 (beat England 16-15, Scotland 21-12, Wales 20-12), 1985 (beat England 13-10, Scotland 18-15, Wales 21-9) and 2004 (beat England 19-13, Scotland 37-16, Wales 36-15).
Brian O’Driscoll lifts the trophy pitchside as the champagne-soaked celebrations begin in earnest. Coach Eddie O’Sullivan explained the difference between his side’s 2004 and 2006 Triple Crown triumphs, saying: “In 2004, it was different because when we beat England we hadn’t actually won anything – we still had to go home and face Italy and Scotland. Today, we could win the Triple Crown so there was the emotion that goes with that.
“To score a try in the last minute of the game capped it all.”
Brian O’Driscoll with the newest member of the IRFU’s trophy cabinet.
O’Driscoll and company forego the usual ice baths for a champagne shower instead.
Ronan O’Gara carries Ireland’s two-try hero Shane Horgan shoulder high. Out-half O’Gara, who finished as the RBS 6 Nations top scorer (76 points), was quick to praise Drogheda-born winger Horgan for his vital 78th-minute try. O’Gara said: “Shaggy (Horgan) is an incredible finisher and I don’t think anyone would have got that winning score bar him.
“It was an exceptional score and huge credit must go to him. It was one of the most important tries we have ever scored. I wouldn’t put too much focus on the conversion. To be honest, I didn’t know what the score was. I had to look up to see it was 26-24 so I had to tune in to the fact that if I kicked the conversion, it was game over.”
Amid the wild celebrations, Donncha O’Callaghan and Johnny O’Connor share a quiet moment.
Eddie O’Sullivan salutes Ireland’s supporters at Twickenham. O’Sullivan’s record since taking the reins from Warren Gatland in November 2001 now reads – 38 wins from 54 Test match outings. He has guided Ireland to the runners-up spot in the RBS 6 Nations on three occasions, as well as collecting two Triple Crowns (2004 and 2006).
The Irish players and management applaud the many fans who made the trip to Twickenham on Saturday.
Scrum half Peter Stringer shows his delight after a successful 66th appearance in the green of Ireland. The Munster pivot said afterwards: “The belief was there that we could win it right up to the end. Guys showed that never-say-die attirtude and refused to accept that we should lose this game by three points.
“We were hurting a bit after the autumn – we didn’t do ourselves justice then. But, we set out our stall for the 6 Nations. Obviously, the first target was to win the three home games, but we also believed that we could beat both France and England away. These were the two key games – the first one didn’t come off, but I think we proved ourselves by beating England.”
**All photos by Billy Stickland and Morgan Treacy of Inpho Photography**