Ireland v England live reaction: Ireland win Six Nations and Grand Slam

Johnny Sexton captains Ireland in his last Six Nations game as Andy Farrell’s men cap memorable campaign with victory


That’s all from me, let the celebrations continue late into the night! Good night!


The Irish players rode out English storm to secure their first Grand Slam win in Dublin. Here’s the player ratings. A flavour:

Mack Hansen

Lots of early involvement in defence and attack and was a threat when Ireland had few on offer. Strong performance

Rating: 9

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Gerry Thornley’s match report: “And so it really has come to pass. Another giant step for this Irish team in their quest to be the greatest Irish team ever. This was not their best performance of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations, but their fifth win out of five, and fourth with a bonus point, left no room for argument that they are worthy Grand Slammers.”


Ireland got there in the end but boy oh boy, they’d put years on you, writes Malachy Clerkin about today’s game. Everyone said this Grand Slam decider would be a cakewalk but for a full hour it was anything but that:

“This wasn’t in the script. Nobody said anything about only being a point up with 20 minutes to go. Nobody, anywhere, not once all week, was sticking their neck out and warning everyone to be careful about their assumptions. Ireland were stuck. What now?

“Enter Jamison and Johnny. First Gibson-Park got Ireland up the pitch with a breakaway and a chip and chase. Soon after, Sexton launched a cross-kick into the space where Steward would have been – the red card finally having its say – and in the bounce-around chaos that followed, Ireland got a five-metre scrum. Put-in, recycle, switch move. Bundee Aki to Robbie Henshaw, breathing space at last.”

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The final Six Nations table:


Some of the winning moments. Stay tuned for post-match reaction from the stadium and from our writers.


Dan Sheehan Player of the Match:

“This is a hugely special day, to win a Grand Slam in front of your home fans. All day they were with us. A Grand Slam is really special for this whole country and I’m really proud of everyone. I think we’re going strength to strength. I don’t think we played our best game today, but we found a way to win.”

Johnny Sexton:

“Bloody hell, what a team! What a team of coaches, prepared us so well. We didn’t nothing of what they told us, we did exactly the opposite! But England are a world class team and to get a win on St Patrick’s weekend is unbelievable. It’s like a dream I don’t want to wake up from. This is what you dream of as a kid. I’m pinching myself.”


Full-time: Ireland 29 England 16

One last attack by England as they chase a losing bonus point, but comes to nothing.


A nervy performance at times but they did enough. A tremendous achievement by this group of players. Three tries from hookers, Dan Sheehan showing the acceleration of a winger. Gibson-Park, Keenan (before he went off injured) and van der Flier among those with big performances too. Time to celebrate!


78 mins: TRY FOR IRELAND! A week after all the hookers went off injured, the hookers get on the scoresheet today. Rob Herring comes on for Sheehan and then scores after he finds a gap. It came after a TMO review for a tackle on Ross Byrne as he got dunked on the ground. Jack Willis got a yellow card as England were down to 13. Herring took advantage. That’s the bonus point. Byrne misses the conversion.

Ireland 29 England 16


72 mins: Try for England! England push towards the line and Jamie George takes it and touches it down. Farrell converts. A consolation try or a late surge for England coming?

Sexton comes off injured to a massive ovation in his final Six Nations game. Ross Byrne on.

Ireland 24 England 16


69 mins: TRY FOR IRELAND! Sheehan gets his second try of the game. Hansen to Conan who makes a brilliant offload to Sheehan who shows his pace again to finish in the corner. Sigh of relief, that should be that! Brilliant conversion from Sexton from the touchline. He loved that one.

Ireland 24 England 9


62 mins: TRY FOR IRELAND! Robbie Henshaw scores his 10th try for Ireland. Gibson-Park to Aki and a nice pass to Henshaw to touch down. Could that clinch it? Sexton converts.

Ireland 17 England 9


60 mins: Great turnover by Baird, wrestling a bit of momentum from England. Sexton kicks to the opposite side of the pitch, tackled late. The ball bounces nicely and Hansen puts England under pressure and they win a 5 metre scrum.

Ireland 10 England 9


57 mins: A scuffle breaks out as tensions flare between the two teams. Back to a scrum for England. Ireland yet to score in 17 minutes of this half against the 14 men of England.

Ireland 10 England 9


56 mins: Ireland looking very flat as they get drawn into a kicking game. Hansen slips and puts Ireland back a few metres. Sexton with a mediocre kick out to touch. Ireland look rattled.

Ireland 10 England 9


54 mins: Again Ireland are turned over. Overhit line-out puts O’Mahony under pressure and then he’s tackled and knock it on. Groans ring around the stadium.

Ireland 10 England 9


50 mins: England score penalty! Farrell brings the English within a point. Been a very nervy performance by Ireland so far.

Ireland 10 England 9


48 mins: England’s defence has been very good today, they turn over Ireland again. Watson’s dancing feet causes Ireland some trouble in the middle of the field. Turnovers by both sides, some sloppy touches. Jimmy O’Brien knocks on the catch from a very high kick.

Ireland 10 England 6


42 mins: Jimmy O’Brien will replace the great Hugo Keenan, unfortunate for Keenan who had a great first half. Gibson-Park makes a break on the wing and dummies then finds space, kicks towards the corner, chases it but goes out of play in a dangerous area for England.

Ireland 10 England 6


HALF-TIME: Ireland 10 England 6

Far from a vintage half by Ireland, as England look a completely different proposition to last week and have competed really well with Ireland. Andy Farrell’s men have been sloppy at times but one great break from a line-out and superb acceleration by Dan Sheehan saw him finish for the only try of the game. The big moment of the half though was the red card for Steward at the very end, which leaves England a man down for the rest of the game. Big advantage for Ireland, who are one half away from the Grand Slam.


40 mins: RED CARD FOR ENGLAND! Last attack of the half, Ireland with a few nice offloads and then Keenan gets a bang to the head from Steward. It’s an elbow to the head. And he’s sent off! Upright and into contact, high level of danger, says referee Jaco Peyper.

Ireland 10 England 6


39 mins: More excellent work by Ireland’s defence, van der Flier showing his class again as they turn over the England attack. Arundell getting caught out.

Ireland 10 England 6


34 mins: TRY FOR IRELAND! Solid line-out taken. Gap opens and Dan Sheehan flies at speed, what acceleration from the hooker. Nice inside pass by Van der Flier and England can’t stop him. Brilliant try. Sexton converts. Ireland lead!

Ireland 10 England 6


32 mins: Keenan having another fine game, catches the ball high to set Ireland on their way again. Ginge gives away a penalty for England for an off-the-ball tackle. Sexton into the corner, attacking line-out coming.

Ireland 3 England 6


26 mins: Hansen makes a good run from deep to gain Ireland some ground. Another penalty for Ireland, England are pushing the boundaries, Dombrandt with a late tackle on Sexton.

Ireland 3 England 6


21 mins: England on the attack, they get within five metres of the line but Ireland push them back with strong defending. Slade swivels through and England get close to the line again but Ireland stay firm and eventually push England out of play. England concede a penalty and Ireland survive.

Ireland 3 England 6


19 mins: Johnny Sexton breaks the Six Nations points record! Ireland win a penalty, penalised for being off feet. Sexton decides to go for the posts. Some 560 points as he goes ahead of O’Gara.

Ireland 3 England 6


17 mins: Itoje drops the ball and gives Ireland a chance. Keenan makes a great break and Ireland five metres from the line. But Furlong’s pass is sloppy and knocks Ireland and a bit back. Then James Lowe makes another error, giving away the pass. England turn it over again. Oh dear.

Ireland 0 England 6


15 mins: Owen Farrell kicks over. Not the start many had envisaged. Early setbacks but still a long way to go.

Ireland 0 England 6


13 mins: Goal-line dropout for England and again they are turned over. Hansen with an uninspired clearance. Again England on the attack. Penalty against Ireland. Poor start by the Irish, England look up for this.

Ireland 0 England 3


11 mins: Some kicking back and forth and then Ireland win a duel in the middle, Porter turns it over, England penalised for not releasing. Sexton into touch, they need a better line-out this time.

Van der Flier finds a gap and Ireland play in midfield. Ireland win a penalty... and Sexton goes quickly! Catches England off guard with the quick one and so close to the line but held up. That would have been a spectacular way to break O’Gara’s record.

Ireland 0 England 3


8 mins: Ireland turned over again. Tuilagi looks strong and makes ground in the middle of the pitch. Good play by England, Farrell and Slade involved. England’s phases into double figures. Penalty to England. Farrell kicks it over from not far out, England in the lead.

Ireland 0 England 3


5 mins: England turn over the ball in the middle of the pitch and they look very aggressive at the breakdown, Itoje gives away a penalty though. Sexton into touch, but a bad lineout by Dan Sheehan, overthrown. Some nerves early on.

Ireland 0 England 0


2 mins: Good take by Gibson-Park as Farrell crashes into him in the air. Penalty for Ireland for foul play. Early attacking line-out for Ireland.

Ireland 0 England 0


The Six Nations table after the France game:


Finally, the stage set for a Grand Six Nations finale as Ireland take on England, writes Gerry Thornley.

“Maybe some documentary producer planned it all. Ireland to host England in the final game of Super Saturday, on St Patrick’s Day weekend, seeking a Grand Slam coronation in Dublin for the first time 128 years, against England, in Johnny Sexton’s last Six Nations game. Are we missing anything? Oh yes, it’s the World Player of the Year’s 50th cap.”

The teams again:

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Ryan Baird, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.

England: Freddie Steward; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell; Owen Farrell, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, David Ribbans; Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt. Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant.


Johnny Watterson writes “A doubting English hinterland looks to Dublin and St Patrick’s weekend for rugby salvation”. English rugby has never been so low in the modern age after a record defeat by France in Twickenham.

Final score at Stade de France, France 41 Wales 28.


Two tries for Wales, Roberts scores the first, Tomos Williams after. 34-21 now, Wales coming back into more and putting on the pressure. Only 13 points in it, the way this game has changed last 10 minutes is good for Ireland.


That’s the bonus point for France now. Fickou scores, brilliant, fluid rugby by the French. That’s France 34 Wales 7.


England may go back to move forward for Grand Slam clash, writes Gordon D’Arcy about today’s game. The visitors will probably pursue a more conservative approach in chasing a one-off result but this Ireland team embraces the pressure to perform.

“I’m not convinced yet that Borthwick has the gravitas required to fill this seat. By any metric he has very little experience as a head coach. It will be extremely interesting to see will the powers-that-be in English rugby afford Borthwick the latitude that wasn’t granted to Eddie Jones before Christmas?”

Another try for France, prop Atonio goes over the line, that’s France 27 Wales 7 now.


The half-time score at the Stade de France is France 20 Wales 7.

What does that mean for Ireland? Well if France can continue their trajectory then they’re heading for a bonus point and a big margin victory, which would mean that Ireland would need to avoid defeat against England to win the title, unless they can score four tries and lose by less than seven points in a loss.

Here’s the Danty try for France:


Another penalty and then a try for France, Danty goes over on the wing as France begin to overwhelm the Welsh. It’s now 20-7, Ramos’s placekicking top notch. Meanwhile, the Irish team bus has arrived at the Aviva.


Ireland’s head coach Andy Farrell is the right man with the right stuff when Ireland needed him, writes Malachy Clerkin. “If England are not looking at this coach and wondering why they discarded him, they’re in more trouble than we think.

“The Ireland coach has a natural authority about him, perfectly approachable but devoid of faff. There he sits, shaven of head, bearded of jaw, looking like a bouncer at a Rammstein gig. He should be scary but he isn’t. There’s something about his bearing — open, willing, decent — that puts people at ease while at the same time leaving nobody in any doubt who the big kahuna is.”

Meanwhile, France have moved ahead of Wales with a penalty, it’s France 10 Wales 7 after 28 minutes at the Stade de France.


Looking back to Ireland, Johnny Sexton looks to exit Six Nations stage on a high note, writes Gerry Thornley. Contemporaries and sometime rivals Ronan O’Gara and Dan Biggar are among those rooting for the Irish captain.

“People are slagging me about him taking the record. Sure, it’s absolutely fantastic that he’s taking the record. I’m 46. If you get 10 years out of a record it’s a fantastic feeling to have but I’m delighted that Johnny and me have represented the best of Irish rugby. That’s very powerful for me,” O’Gara told The Irish Times this week from his home in La Rochelle.

“I’m delighted for Laura and I’m delighted for Johnny because there were times when he was doing it tough and he thought he was finished but he’s been beyond resilient. He’s looked in the mirror and he’s got the best out of himself, and that’s what I admire in the person, never mind the player.”


Great start for Wales against France! They go ahead 7-0 after George North scores a try under the posts. They have dominated France in the early stages.

But France respond immediately, great play by Ntamac and Dupont with a great long pass to Penaud on the wing in an acre of space. It’s 7-7, great response.


As France and Wales kicks off, let’s have a look at the Six Nations table. Scotland beat Italy 26-14 earlier today at Murrayfield that should secure third place barring a big bonus point win by England against Ireland. Italy are guaranteed the wooden spoon.

Check out the permutations for the championship here:



Despite losing five players through injury in last week’s 22-7 win over Scotland, Irish head coach Andy Farrell has been able to name a strong team for Saturday’s game.

As expected, there are just three changes to the starting line-up, with Ryan Baird and Robbie Henshaw coming in for the unlucky duo of Iain Henderson and Garry Ringrose, while Jamison Gibson-Park has been named as the starting scrumhalf, with Conor Murray switching to the bench.

Henshaw will be making his first start of any kind since the Autumn Series game against Fiji, when forced off with a hamstring strain inside five minutes, with last week’s 14-minute appearance off the bench his first outing since then. Gibson-Park was making his first appearance of this year’s Six Nations as a replacement last Sunday but looked as sharp as ever.

While Henshaw especially and Gibson-Park have vast big-game experience, Baird’s promotion for just his third Test start makes this the biggest game of the 23-year-old’s career thus far.

For England, Steve Borthwick has made one of two enforced changes at inside-centre where Manu Tuilagi replaces the injured Ollie Lawrence. Tuilagi makes his first appearance of the Six Nations having initially been frozen out by Borthwick and then receiving a three-match ban for dangerous play on club duty for Sale. The powerful 31-year-old forms a midfield trio alongside Farrell and Henry Slade that was last seen during the 2019 World Cup.

Henry Arundell will start for the first time for England. The 20-year-old, who has won all six of his previous caps off the bench, has replaced Max Malins on the left wing.

Owen Farrell is restored at outhalf after being dropped for the 53-10 defeat by France last Saturday, with Marcus Smith demoted to the bench.

The second row Ollie Chessum sustained an ankle injury in training on Tuesday so David Ribbans is drafted into the starting XV in the only adjustment to the pack mauled by France.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (capt), Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Ryan Baird, James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris. Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien.

England: Freddie Steward; Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell; Owen Farrell, Jack van Poortvliet; Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, David Ribbans; Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt. Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant.


Hello and welcome to live coverage of Ireland’s final Six Nations game, against England at the Aviva Stadium. Ireland have won every game so far in the tournament and are one game away from the Grand Slam, a Triple Crown and a Six Nations title. Ireland can still win the title by losing or drawing to England, in various different permutations, but it would be an anticlimactic ending to what has been a brilliant campaign - their eyes are on the victory over a wounded English team, who were thrashed last week at Twickenham by France.

Kick off at the Aviva is at 5pm, follow here for build-up and we’ll keep you posted on major updates from France’s game against Wales too. @DavidGorman20.