19 March, 2018, 12:00 am
LONDON – Ireland secured their third Six Nations grand slam in emphatic style on Saturday when, on a St Patrick’s Day to remember, they overwhelmed defending champions England 24-15 to join the men of 1948 and 2009 in the country’s rugby hall of fame.
The Irish made light of sleet and biting wind and an England team desperate to avoid a third successive defeat as they deservedly led 21-5 at halftime with tries by Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and the prolific Jacob Stockdale.
England, unbeaten at home in the Six Nations since 2012, managed tries by Elliot Daly in each half and another in stoppage time by Jonny May but always looked second-best.
Ireland, who have now won 12 games in a row, top the standings on 26 points ahead of Scotland on 13, Wales 11, France and England on 10 and Italy with one.
Following Scotland’s win in Rome earlier on Saturday and with just the Wales versus France game left in the championship, England will finish outside the top three for the first time in 12 years and could end as low as fifth – their worst performance in 35 years.
A year ago in Dublin Ireland ended English grand slam hopes by handing Eddie Jones his first defeat as England coach and on Saturday they rubbed it in by giving him his first at Twickenham.
The Australian’s oft-stated aim has been to build England into a team capable of challenging New Zealand as the best in the world but at the moment they have dropped so far off the pace that they are not even close to being the best in Europe.