I was immensely proud leaving the Aviva Stadium on Sunday evening.

Ireland played with skill, courage and commitment - the latter two evidenced by how they fronted up to a man in their defensive effort.



I am drawn to the opening half hour of the game where our defence was the reason we built a 13-0 lead, with try-saving tackles from Keith Earls on Liam Williams, and Andrew Trimble on Alun Wyn Jones typifying the effort.

Even in the second half, we witnessed the Welsh holding the ball for nigh on 30 phases and our line did not break.

The pity in all of that effort was that it was one tackle that changed the momentum of the match. When Earls was called back and penalised for a tip tackle on Williams it was a huge turnaround in terms of the psychology of the game.

RBS 6 Nations Extras: The Points - Ireland/Wales


It is one of those fine margins that define sport at the highest level.

Credit should go to both sides for serving up a wonderful match in conditions that probably were better than they expected but still difficult.

Whereas both sets of players will be dissatisfied with the draw, in the cold light of day it has to be Ireland that will be the happier of the two teams.

It will give everyone in the squad at Carton House a huge boost to confidence that would have been dented recently through unavailability of players and recent provincial form.

What this performance against a good Welsh side will do is give the squad belief that the depth is there.

The intensity of what went on out on the field will take a bit of time to recover from and it will be a case of assessment and treatment of injuries and recovery protocols ahead of the Test next week against France, as opposed to full-on preparation.

But Ireland will know, if they play with the same levels of intensity that we saw against Wales, that their fitness levels will be far superior to France.

I, for one, would be hugely confident of going to France in a very positive way and looking to have a game where the ball is in play for long periods of time.



We all hope that Johnny Sexton will be fit, but he must be a huge doubt. The Leinster out-half’s clutch kick to level the game showed what a temperament he has.

There was a lot of talk about leadership going into the game, and in that regard Rory Best, Jamie Heaslip and Conor Murray really stepped up and showed up well for Ireland.

It is interesting looking at how people grow when responsibility is forced upon them and questions are asked. They will need to do it again and some more next week.

It is always tough when looking at a game not to become too parochial, but the Welsh will go away disappointed that they did not threaten Ireland more.

Rhys Priestland was excellent and will have buried a few demons with his display at fly-half after coming on for Dan Biggar.

Jamie Roberts was incredibly powerful in everything he did and, as ever, Alun Wyn Jones was colossal.

Wales will be disappointed that they did not cause Ireland more problems at the breakdown and it says a lot about Ireland’s contact skills and rucking that Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric were largely anonymous in that facet of the game.

So it is onwards now. No Grand Slams or Triple Crowns - just a focus on winning the championship. I really believe that if we replicate what we did yesterday we will have too much for a French team that will try and play with flair.

But I don’t think they have the physical capability of sustaining 80 minutes at the intensity that Ireland and Wales served up.

It is a huge task, but one we are more than capable of winning.   

RBS 6 Nations Extras: Six Moments