Category: Archive

Irish put Scots on the rocks

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

We know sport throws up its shocks, but this was unbelievable, unprecedented and a few days ago, unthinkable. Ireland’s impoverished rugby team pulverizing a team it hadn’t beaten for 12 years and scoring five tries and a record 44 points in the process. If you looked long enough into the skies over Lansdowne Road last Saturday evening, you might have even spotted the pigs.

A defeat against Scotland in the Six Nations championship and coach Warren Gatland would have been packing his bags. Everything was on the line, his job, a new team’s reputation and, well if it’s not over the top, the reputation of Irish rugby itself.

Consider the backdrop. A disastrous World Cup campaign at the end of which Gatland was fortunate not to get his marching orders and then that humiliating first game of the championship against England.

Things couldn’t have looked much worse.

And Scotland were coming to Dublin as the reigning European champions with ten wins and one draw in its last 11 games against the Irish. Midway through the first-half, the Scots were leading by 10-0. You could hear the gallows being constructed on the back pitch at Lansdowne Road.

Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo

Subscribe to one of our great value packages.

What’s more Gatland’s new team, with eight changes from the England debacle and five new caps, had got stage fright. The young half-backs, Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara, looked totally out of their depth and Ireland were a customary rash of fumbles and missed tackles.

Suddenly, it all came right. Malcolm O’Kelly scored a try, O’Gara kicked a couple of penalties and lo and behold, the Irish were in front by 13-10 at the interval. It was hard to work out who was more surprised, the Scots, the 48,000 crowd or the players themselves.

“During the break, I asked for more composure,” Gatland said afterwards, “I asked the players to make sure they scored first in the second-half.” They did, with debutant Shane Horgan diving over, and as the new team grew in confidence, Scotland were hit with an extraordinary avalanche of tries from Brian O’Driscoll, David Humphreys, who had replaced O’Gara, and captain Keith Wood.

The Irish had piled on 44 points without reply in one of the most amazing sequences of scoring ever witnessed at Lansdowne Road. Scotland reduced the deficit with a couple of late tries of their own, but by then the contest was long over.

“There was a great deal of emotion before, during and after the game,” said Gatland, who indicated that he would have been prepared to resign had Scotland won. “I’m delighted for everybody. We were due a break and thankfully it came at last.”

With Italy in Dublin on Saturday week, Ireland now have a chance to win at least two games in the championship for the first time since 1993. England, meanwhile, are on course to take the title after a 15-9 over France in Paris, while Wales beat the Italians 47-16 in Cardiff.

Other Articles You Might Like

Sign up to our Daily Newsletter

Click to access the login or register cheese