Six Nations

Ireland vs England: 5 memorable moments

2015-02-28 12:21
Jonathan Sexton (AFP)

Dublin - Five memorable moments/matches from previous Ireland encounters with England ahead of their Six Nations match at Lansdowne Road on Sunday:

1982 - 'Ginger' just the biscuit

The Irish team in 1982 was affectionately known as 'Dad's Army'. None stood out more, primarily because of his frizzy red hair, than prop 'Ginger' McLoughlin. He became a national hero as he dragged both packs over the line to score a memorable try and Ollie Campbell's superb conversion from the touchline sealed a 16-15 victory which helped the Irish on the way to their first Triple Crown since 1949. "At the time, I was misquoted as saying I dragged the Irish pack over the line with me. In fact, I dragged the entire Irish and English forwards across the line that day!" he said. He went on to become mayor of Limerick although not after he had battled depression and contemplated suicide when his marriage of 30 years ended in the early part of the last decade.

1973 -- England the brave

The sectarian violence in the North of Ireland persuaded Scotland and Wales to cancel their matches in Dublin but to great surprise England -- who were seen by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as the true enemy being the colonising power -- agreed to turn up. The players were greeted with a thunderous ovation from the Irish supporters but their bravery was not rewarded with victory as the hosts prevailed 18-9. "We might not be any good but at least we turned up," drily remarked England captain John Pullin.

1970 - The life of O'Reilly

Tony O'Reilly was one of the greatest players to pull on the green jersey, making his debut aged 18. However, his best days on the pitch were behind him in 1970 -- he had started what was to become a highly successful career with Americain food company Heinz. However, the Irish selectors thought it worth one last shot calling him up at the age of 33 -- six years after his previous test appearance -- and sent out a search party for the bon viveur in London as the game with England approached. They finally found him at two in the morning at the exclusive night club 'Annabel's' and he answered his country's call. He surprised many when he arrived at training in a chauffeur driven Bentley. It wasn't the only thing that surprised both team-mate and opponent. "It was embarrassing," he recalled to People Magazine back in 1974 about his weight as he was almost 20 stone. "I was so out of shape. One chap said to me, 'Tony, we'll never be able to get past you in the field. There's no room.'" The selection did not turn out a match winner -- the Irish lost 9-3.

2003 - Johnson puts Irish President out to grass

England captain Martin Johnson was a master at gamesmanship. Mind you people expected that to be deployed against opponents on the pitch not involve the head of state of one of the country's they played but it happened in the Grand Slam winners takes all game in Dublin. He lined his players up on the wrong side of the red carpet and refused to move even when an official remonstrated with him they were standing on the side Ireland should be. The Irish refused to go to the other side either so they stood on the grass forcing Irish president Mary McAleese to walk on the muddy ground to shake hands with the host team. 'None of us are going to move, and if anyone does move, I'll kill them,' England hooker Steve Thompson recalls Johnson saying. The IRFU were furious and accused Johnson of disrespect, which he denied, but the incident didn't help fire up the Irish as they were overwhelmed 42-6 and Johnson went on to lift the World Cup later that year.

2011 - What goes around comes around for Johnson

England and Johnson, though he was now the manager, returned to Lansdowne Road in 2011 with the Grand Slam again at stake in a World Cup year -- it was the first time since 2003 they had entered the final match with such aspirations. Ireland's interest was only that of spoiler as they were out of contention. However, they thoroughly enjoyed being the gatecrashers of Johnson's party this time as they ran out 24-8 winners -- Jonathan Sexton scoring 14 of the points and iconic centre Brian O'Driscoll breaking the try record for the championship with his 25th. While England had the consolation of winning the title Johnson's fortunes nosedived after that with a dire World Cup campaign on and off the pitch which signalled the end of his term in charge.

Read more on:    ireland  |  england  |  six nations  |  rugby

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