It's unbelievably refreshing to hear this Ireland squad talk openly about Grand Slams 10 months ago

It's unbelievably refreshing to hear this Ireland squad talk openly about Grand Slams

The Grand Slam decider went as Joe Schmidt and his players planned, and wanted. There was no hint of fear out on the Twickenham pitch, that day, from the men in green.

The high ball strategy that led to Garry Ringrose's try, the set-play and Tadhg Furlong offload that set up the CJ Stander try and switching back to the blindside for Jacob Stockdale's chip and chase score. The players were given the plays and they executed them superbly.

10 months on from that day, when Ireland's third ever Grand Slam was won at a freezing Twickenham, the players that helped deliver the championship are preparing to go again. Ireland's team is set to be named on Wednesday and the England fixture on February 2 means there will be huge interest from the start.

Two of Ireland's Grand Slam heroes - Garry Ringrose and Jack McGrath - spoke about the 2019 Guinness Six Nations on Baz and Andrew's House of Rugby and both are not shy about their ambitions.


Back in 2009, even when they had defeated France and then England, many of the Irish squad demurred when they were asked about going for a first Grand Slam in 61 years. David Wallace recalls an almost apologetic Keith Woods pre-warning him that he would be asking him about it in a BBC interview.

This time around, this set of Irish players are not only expecting the question, they meet it head on. Leinster and Ireland loosehead Jack McGrath said:

"Even that time with Dan Leavy getting injured and Josh van der Flier coming in for that New Zealand game, and Seanie [O'Brien] was already injured. Seanie was injured, Leavy came in and got injured and then Josh came in. That's just an example of the depth we're starting to get. We're three deep in every position and it is exactly what you need to even think about going for a World Cup."

The Six Nations is still taken very seriously, says McGrath, and England coming to Dublin for the opener has added to the sense of anticipation.

"We want to do something special, every time we wear the green jersey so why not try and go for another Grand Slam? That's something I would definitely be trying to go for."

Leinster and Ireland centre Garry Ringrose pictured at the official announcement of the his partnership renewal with the firm.

When McGrath's words were put to Garry Ringrose, on the latest House of Rugby episode, he commented:

"That's always going to be what you are aiming for. Every game you play, you're looking to go out and win, and do the best you can. And that inevitably means the Grand Slam.

"But, to pare it back, it all starts with that first game [against England]; you're just going out to win that. Any team can win it, and each team would back themselves to go out and do so. Yeah, just focus on that first match.

"France [last year] was a good lesson. It just shows the fine margins it all falls on. If you get too caught up aything outside of that, it probably works against you."

Ringrose is right. We could all be licking our wounds on the morning of February 3 after England come to town.

For now, though, these Irish players are performing and speaking, and plotting again, as champions.