Following a pulsating finish to the 2015 RBS 6 Nations with three big wins on the final day, Ireland have been confirmed as back-to-back champions. It is the first time Ireland have won successive Championships since 1948-1949.
Three teams finished level on eight points at the top of the table, with four wins from five, but Ireland triumphed over England (+57) and Wales (+53) thanks to their superior points scoring difference of +63.
Joe Schmidt’s men produced a final round flourish, running in four tries to beat Scotland 40-10 at BT Murrayfield and following an agonising wait for the England-France match to conclude 55-35 in the hosts’ favour, captain Paul O’Connell was presented with the Championship’s new trophy on the Murrayfield pitch.
Giving his reaction afterwards, O’Connell said: “It’s feels incredible (to win)…such bizarre circumstances. Fair play to England, they were incredible and they will head to the World Cup in very good shape.
“It’s an amazing feeling to do it two years in a row. It’s brilliant for Irish rugby and the provinces and all those involved.
“I don’t know if it’s my last Six Nations, but it’s a brilliant feeling. It’s hard to know what to say right now. It’s such a bizarre situation.”
Thousands of green-clad supporters, who stayed on Murrayfield, witnessed the unusual sight of O’Connell and his team-mates – all suited and booted – collecting the Championship silverware and winners’ medals in their post-match formal wear.
Victorious head coach Joe Schmidt spoke of his relief at the final outcome, stating: “We were only just glued together there towards the end (of the England-France game)! England put the pressure on and I’d sympathise with them. I thought they were superb. Thankfully France rebounded on a number of occasions and it was pretty tough viewing.
“All this makes it worthwhile, the supporters who have stayed on in the stadium have been great. Paul O’Connell grabbed the week by the scruff of the neck, he got things together last Tuesday and led them (the players) forward. The way they rebounded from last week is a real credit to them.”
Asked about the momentum this success offers heading towards the Rugby World Cup, he admitted: “These nights don’t come along very often. I’m just going to enjoy a special night with a special group of players and staff who have worked incredibly hard over the last eight weeks.”