Try: Sarto; Pens: Orquera 2
Tries: Brown 2, Farrell, Nowell, Vunipola, Tuilagi, Robshaw; Con: Farrell 7; Pens: Farrell
England head coach Stuart Lancaster acclaimed Ireland’s coronation as RBS 6 Nations champions as the perfect way to mark Brian O’Driscoll’s international retirement.
A 52-11 victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico kept England in title contention until the Irish edged France 22-20 in a heartstopping climax to the tournament in Paris.
Lancaster views Ireland as worthy champions and was delighted for O’Driscoll, the world’s most capped player, who participated in the final Test of a stellar 15-year career.
“Credit to Ireland. They are deserved winners and it’s a fitting finale and send-off for Brian O’Driscoll, a legend of the game who everyone in this squad respects massively,” Lancaster said.
“We always knew this was going to be one of the tightest Six Nations and that it would go down to the wire.”
England finished runners-up for a third successive year and were only beaten to a first title under Lancaster on points difference.
In the final table they trailed Ireland by only 10 points and had they beaten Italy by 11 more, they would have claimed Wales’ crown for themselves.
Lancaster defended the decision to empty the bench at the Stadio Olimpico, with one of his predecessors as head coach, Sir Clive Woodward, claiming the replacements robbed England of their momentum.
Manu Tuilagi was brought on with just under half an hour to go, but oddly he displaced the superb Luther Burrell who had shredded Italy’s defence on multiple occasions.
“I’m curious as to which substitute didn’t add. Manu added. We make our decisions on what we’re seeing,” Lancaster said.
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