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20th Mar 2023

HOUSE OF RUGBY: Ireland are double Grand Slam champions and Johnny Sexton ‘best ever’ debate

Patrick McCarry

“And next year’s batch are supposed to be even better.”

Ireland are 2023 Six Nations Grand Slam champions in the mens and U20s championships, and looking in rude health. House of Rugby looked back on those winning campaigns, and ahead to the World Cup.

Pat McCarry and Jason Hennessy were joined in the House of Rugby studio by former Munster and Ireland centre, James Downey. They hit upon a host of topics, from the Six Nations’ best players, Andy Farrell’s impact as head coach, World Cup squad chat and ‘Is Johnny Sexton Ireland’s best ever player?’

We also heard from Andy Farrell, Johnny Sexton, Tommy Bowe and, ahead of the Women’s Six Nations, Ireland captain Nichola Fryday. LISTEN to that full episode now:

Johnny Sexton on Andy Farrell

“Since day one, he has put his own stamp on it,” Johnny Sexton replied, on Saturday, when asked about Andy Farrell.

“I think the best thing about him is he hasn’t changed one bit from going from assistant to head coach, he’s still very popular even with the lads he doesn’t pick!

“[Losing to France in 2020] was a low point, a real low point for me,” Sexton added. “And this is a high point, but I hope it’s not the highest point.

“Andy is a very special coach. When you have him, Paul O’Connell, Simon Easterby, Mike Catt, and John Fogarty motivating you during the week, it’s a pretty special dressing room to be part of. All credit to him really for putting it together.

“What’s very pleasing is that we’re not a side who just kicks the leather off the ball and just goes for territory the whole time,” Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said after his side’s Grand Slam-clinching win over England.

“We’re a side that likes to play some rugby, and territory and possession is pretty important for us and we still find a way how to generate good field position and dominate large parts of games. And it’s nice, isn’t it, to have that blend and to put that out on the field and believe in it?

“So our game’s in good shape but it’s nowhere near where we want it to be, so that’s a great spot to be in.”


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