Ireland lock Paul O’Connell pens his final blog of the RBS 6 Nations Championship, recalling the highs from the 24-8 win over England and how the atmosphere generated by the Aviva Stadium crowd made the day all the more memorable.
The victory over England was hugely satisfying for us as a squad primarily because of the nature of the performance.
We didn’t concede silly penalties and by and large until the rain came down, we played mistake-free rugby. We had got the level of performance that we had been seeking throughout the tournament – we broached in from time to time in several matches but last weekend we managed to sustain it.
We were tactically well-rehearsed and we were technically ready. We were ready for what England would try and do to us and we knew what we needed to do.
Obviously there has been a few bits in the paper after the match about what I said to the team before the game.
I was just one of several senior players who spoke and it was really nothing more than reminding ourselves that we had prepared well and the importance of bringing that to the pitch – being physically right and mentally attuned.
I got a scrape in the eye, something I have suffered on a few occasions in the past. It’s annoying, frustrating would be a better word because your eye weeps constantly for about 48 hours.
I had three drinks on Saturday night and ended up back in the team room with Rog (Ronan O’Gara), Darce (Gordon D’Arcy) and Eoin Reddan, who picked up a stray – former England and Lions scrum half Matt Dawson.
We had a good laugh but I don’t think eating bowls of cornflakes and drinking tea is very rock ‘n’ roll! I was physically shattered from a tough, bruising contest so it was just fine by me.
The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and trying to get the body back into shape before returning to training with Munster.
I still need game-time so I’ll be in action tonight in Cardiff and I’m looking forward to wearing the red jersey again.
If I manage to come though unscathed then I’m hoping to be able to get half a dozen holes of golf in over the next few days.
It’s funny, I’m desperate to play some golf but know that the first few games that I play will annoy the living daylights out of me because it’ll take time for me to get into the groove in swing terms, or at least what passes for a groove these days!
I met the band JLS – they were promoting their concert in Thomond Park in the summer – and posed for a publicity shot. I was feeling a bit underdressed when I saw the gear they were wearing!
One of them used to be in the London Irish rugby academy and he knew all about last weekend’s match but the others were blissfully unaware. We had good craic.
Returning to last weekend’s final Six Nations match, I thought the atmosphere came back to the Aviva Stadium that day.
All the players were aware of it and we know that we have to set the standard on the pitch if we want the supporters to recreate that atmosphere. It really lifted us. The supporters definitely brought back the roar.
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Paul’s blogs are on www.bethedifference.ie