Ireland travelled to England to face a then homeless Wales side. Big heavy handbags ensued.
Keith Duggan writing in the Irish Times said:
AH, the incomparable beauty of a Keith Wood smile. We have seen him in all his guises over the past two weeks, from the bleak figure in the blue mezzotint standing ruined in Lansdowne Road to his grinning, pale, headed colossus, gamley stoking the masses at the end of a sporting hour, which will be undoubtedly be rememberd as Wembley’s finest by everyone except, possibly, Geoff Hurst.
Italy, the dreaded banana skin of the 6 Nations, fells a stunned Ireland.
Gerry Thornley holding back his tears wrote:
The most dejected trudge yet from the dressingroom to the coaches in the tunnel of the Stadio Olympico fittingly resembled another scene from MASH. A dazed and Luke Marshall followed by Keith Earls, his arm tucked under his tracksuit top. Luke Fitzgerals went by on crutches, his leg entirely encased. The ravages of the Six Nations campaign will be felt for some time.
A host of new men have been thrust into this ravaged squad, with the carnage of Saturday providing them with scenarios that they could not of imagined or experiencing in their fledgling careers to date…
Ireland travelled to Scotland on a weekend when Edinburgh was dry due to a public service employees strike…
Highlights were few and far between.
Edmund Van Esbeck, writing in the Irish Times said:
A few inches of woodwork was destiny’s determining factor at Murrayfield on Saturday. With six minutes remaining, Colin Patterson crossed for a try in the right corner to bring the scores at 11 points all. Ireland’s ace marksman,
Tony Ward took the conversion attempt and the ball followed an erratic path to the posts, struck the upright and fell the wrong side. Thus, it was that, for the first time in three quarters of a century, Ireland and Scotland played a draw with each side, scoring two tries and a penalty goal…..
The era of the baggy jersey was drawing to a close and Irish voters kicked the Nice Treaty into touch.
Gerry Thornely wrote:
A hard one to swallow for this Irish team to have given themselves and a throbbing Lansdowne Road a real sight of a famous victory.
The men in black foraged in twos or even clusters, and usually offloaded even before going to ground. You have to wonder if Irish fatigue was a factor in just not getting support ruckers to the breakdown. But Gatland like the players was not having any of it. “I don’t want to repeat myself here, but that’s again down to the intensity they play at week, week out.”
Snatching a draw from jaws of yet another defeat to the all-conquering All Blacks.
When some of the goys played twice a week such was the demands of the amateur game at the time.
Paul MacWeeney reported:
The All Blacks can kick themselves all the way back to New Zealand for allowing Ireland to snatch a draw, with two penalty goals and a try to a goal and a try, six minutes from the end at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
Completley inflexable thinking cost Kirkpatrick and his team the glittering prize of becoming the first from their country to beat all four HOME countries on a single tour, and assuming that the captain is the final arbiter of policy once play has started,
Kirkpatrick, one of the greatest forwards of history, must shoulder much of the blame for not ending with a margain of at least 10 points.
From champions to wooden spoon recipients in the space of a year.
At least Edmund van Esbeck was jovial, he wrote:
Often enough in Ireland’s history of involvement in international rugby, defeat has been a visitor to the door.
So Scotland won and gained a share in the championship with France. Ireland lost and take the wooden spoon, yet, in their play the won the crowds’ admiration, their vociferous support and left us considerably encouraged.
When the quarterback style toss into the line-out was the done thing.
Edmund Van Esbeck, writing in the Irish Times said:
Ireland’s total of 26 points was the highest yet recoded against England at any venue by an Irish side.
John Pullin was warm in his tribute to Ireland after the game: “theIrish pack is definitely in the veteran class and tired a little towards the end, but they are still a formidable proposition for any opposition.”
Five new Irish caps, all fine, young, inordinately hairy men, They heaved against the veterns de rugby francais and gritted it out for an historic and most unlikely victory (France 9 Ireland 14).
Paul McWeeney writing in the following Monday’s Irish Times said:
It was a sobering thought before the match, when asked if I had ever seen Ireland win at Colombes, to realise that, in fact, only myself and one or two other of my British press colleagues had ever had the pleasure, nor was I all that optimistic that I would ever see it again.
At the Cardiff Arms Park, Ireland put in an oddly schizophrenic performance but prevailed over Wales.
Edmund Van Esbeck writing (through rose tinted spectacles) in the Irish Times said:
A season that started with such bright promise and hope, but faltered in the midway period has ended in a triumph and triumph this was. Never has the appellation “the fighting Irish” been more appropriately applied to an Ireland rugby team..
..the heart of Irish rugby still beats with strong rhythm. It was a great day for the fighting Irish last Saturday.
A much fancied Irish team just had to show up and beat Los Pumas to secure a World Cup quarter-final place at Lansdowne Road. Guided by Warren Gatland and Donal Lenihan, they had, in fairness, steadied Irish rugby’s on-field fortunes.
Plucky tyke Brian O’Driscoll becoming evergreen in an Irish shirt even before he had broken through at Leinster.
For this Irish squad, the 1999 World Cup is over before it really begins. We all knew that we were going to get to Lens and that we would meet our first genuine test there as we were always unlikely to beat Australia.
We have failed that test. In these days of public relations the message from the Irish camp was to go “where no Irish team had gone before in the World Cup”. They have achieved that distinction, but it is not quite what they had in mind..