Players from Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby and Ulster Rugby were all on the scoresheet at Twickenham on Saturday as Ireland defeated England 24-15 to win a second Six Nations Championship.
Leinster centre Garry Ringrose got Ireland off to a flying start with a sixth-minute try, before Munster No.8 CJ Stander and Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale also touched down as the Irish opened up a 21-5 interval lead, with Leinster half-backs Johnny Sexton (2) and Joey Carbery kicking three conversions. Munster scrum-half Conor Murray added a second-half penalty.
For five Leinster players it was more glory on a return to the scene of their historic 2012 European Cup triumph. Full-back Rob Kearney, fly-half Johnny Sexton and prop Cian Healy were key members of the Leinster squad who defeated Ulster Rugby 42-14, a record-breaking margin for a final, and were later joined by substitute hooker Sean Cronin and lock Devin Toner.
And so it was on Saturday, when Kearney, Sexton and Healy teamed up with Leinster club-mates Ringrose, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan and Dan Leavy in the Ireland starting XV, before Cronin and Toner were brought on in the second half with Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Jordi Murphy, Joey Carbery and Jordan Larmour.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) March 17, 2018
The victory set Leinster up perfectly for their Champions Cup quarter-final against English side Saracens at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on April 1, while the same could be said for Ireland’s Munster quartet, who entertain RC Toulon at Thomond Park on March 31.
In addition to Stander and Murray, wing Keith Earls and flanker Peter O’Mahony also made crucial contributions, before Earls limped off six minutes from time.
Superb performance from @KEITHEARLS87 throughout the victorious 6 Nations campaign, all the best to the Moyross man as he recovers from injury and we hope to see him back in red soon! #ENGvIRE #ShoulderToShoulder ??? pic.twitter.com/RQSVmh2kEF
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) March 17, 2018
Wales finished second behind Ireland thanks to a nail-biting 14-13 win over France at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, which was achieved through a try from Saracens wing Liam Williams and three penalties from Scarlets full-back Leigh Halfpenny.
Halfpenny will also be up against French opposition in the Champions Cup on March 30 at Parc y Scarlets, where the Welsh region host La Rochelle.
Another Scarlet in the points on Saturday was flanker John Barclay, whose first-half try enabled Scotland to stay within sight of Italy at the interval at 12-17 down in Rome.
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 17, 2018
However, it was the nerveless goalkicking of ASM Clermont Auvergne half-back Greig Laidlaw allied to a second-half try from Saracens wing Sean Maitland that saw the Scots home 29-27.
Laidlaw, whose club play Racing 92 in an all-French quarter-final at Stade Marcel-Michelin on April 1, kicked three conversions and a 77th-minute penalty to clinch third place for his country in the Championship.
— ASM Rugby (@ASMOfficiel) March 17, 2018
To complete a great day for Laidlaw, Clermont beat Pau 38-14 in the TOP 14 and there were also home wins on Saturday for Racing (28-22 against Stade Français Paris) and La Rochelle (19-15 versus Lyon).