By Brendan Cole
The Ireland women’s rugby team have become Six Nations champions for the first time ever thanks to their victory over France last night and Italy’s failure to beat England today.
Ireland recorded a stirring 15-10 win over the French on Saturday evening, overcoming a five point deficit in the second half in foggy conditions at Ashbourne to put themselves within touching distance of the title.
Only Italy stood between Ireland and an historic first Championship success in their 20-year history and when they were unable to live with an England that has set the standard worldwide at Twickenham today.
Ireland’s Championship success was confirmed by England’s 34-0 defeat over the Italians at Twickenham.
Ireland will take on Italy in Milan next week with a possible Grand Slam on the line.
Tralee's Siobhan Fleming wants Ireland to finish the job after last night’s win over France and confirmation now that they are Women’s 6 Nations champions.
Fleming told RTÉ after the game: "We were the fitter side and we knew that. We had to keep playing simple and do what we do best. In the end we finished on top which was enough. That is enough for us any day.
"We needed that try (Niamh Briggs) to settle us, get us going and get into the rhythm again. They were never going to make it easy. You have to play what is in front of you - there was no way we were going to pull away from them.
"We did the best we could in the circumstances. They were physically bigger but once we got into it, once we could maintain possession, we were laughing then.”
There were joyous scenes at the end of the match as Ireland went a step closer to that first Grand Slam.
Fleming has targeted the final win in Italy next weekend.
"I thought the referee would never blow the full-time whistle but when she did it was brilliant. I don’t want to leave the field, it’s brilliant playing at home, there is so much support from family and friends. The effort they go to, it makes it all worthwhile. Whatever the work we put in, the support we get is absolutely brilliant.
“Our job is never done, it will not be done until Milan next week and hopefully we come out on top. It’s going to be hard to get the heads back down but it’s straight into business.
"It means so much because France being the team they are, it was always going to be tough. They were the biggest hurdle at this stage, we’re over that and the next step is Italy.