West News Wire: With a 29-16 victory over England at the Aviva Stadium, Ireland clinched their fourth-ever Six Nations Grand Slam, reaffirming their position as the top-ranked Rugby Union team going into the World Cup in September.
Six months before the Rugby World Cup, when they have never won a knockout match, the Irish entered the competition as the favorite and breezed through it.
Ireland handled a game against England but inadequately, and took maximum points from a win and at least four tries at a jam-packed Lansdowne Road, a month after defeating the defending champions and second-ranked France at home.
Andy Farrell’s side were worthy of their clean sweep, having won all of their games by 13 points or more and ending France’s 14-game unbeaten run along the way in one of the best championship games in recent memory.
Two tries from Dan Sheehan and one each from Robbie Henshaw and Rob Herring ensured Ireland finished ahead of France in second place and Scotland in third while a third defeat for England left them in fourth place.
Captain Jonathan Sexton was given the perfect send-off in his last Six Nations match with a second Grand Slam and the championship’s all-time point-scoring record. He limped off with six minutes to go to a standing ovation.
The 37-year-old moved on to 560 points to surpass Ronan O’Gara, his predecessor as fly-half, in what is his 60th and final Six Nations Test. O’Gara played 63.
O’Gara remains Ireland’s overall record points scorer on 1,083 with Sexton on 1,050 points before the match against England kicked off.
Best of all for home fans in the middle of St Patrick’s Day weekend celebrations, it was the first time Ireland had sealed the Grand Slam in Dublin after doing it in Twickenham (2018), Cardiff (2009) and Belfast (1948).