Irish experience was key

Date published: March 22 2015

Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell highlighted his team's big match temperament after their Six Nations title-clinching performance in Scotland on Saturday.

The defending champions had to win by at least 21 points after Wales had thrashed Italy earlier in the day. And their 30-point margin of victory in Edinburgh in the 40-10 win at Murrayfield proved to be enough as England fell short against France in the final game of a thrilling day.  

"It's feels incredible (to win)…such bizarre circumstances. Fair play to England, they were incredible and they will head to the World Cup in very good shape," said O'Connell.

"It's an amazing feeling to do it two years in a row. It's brilliant for Irish rugby and the provinces and all those involved.

"I don't know if it's my last Six Nations, but it's a brilliant feeling. It's hard to know what to say right now. It's such a bizarre situation."

Victorious head coach Joe Schmidt spoke of his relief at the final outcome.

"We were only just glued together there towards the end (of the England-France game)," said the New Zealander.

"England put the pressure on and I'd sympathise with them. I thought they were superb. Thankfully France rebounded on a number of occasions and it was pretty tough viewing.

"All this makes it worthwhile, the supporters who have stayed on in the stadium have been great. Paul O'Connell grabbed the week by the scruff of the neck, he got things together last Tuesday and led them (the players) forward. The way they rebounded from last week is a real credit to them."

"I think we've done enough to come away from the game proud," added Schmidt.

"For us, it's a championship that we'll probably have some regrets about, last week. But I think last week's second-half performance did set us up and it was quite similar to our second-half performance this week."

O'Connell said celebrations had been "very muted at the end of the game because it's going to be an exciting and nervous afternoon."

"We've been fairly focused all week on how we were going to start the game and we were just trying to win it.

"We have a lot experience from the Heineken Cup and the Champions Cup where you go into the last two games and never want to chase a bonus point. You want to win the game first and that's what we were trying to do.

"We showed that by taking a few kicks, we didn't kick them all but we had a target to hit at half-time and we got there.

"To win a championship any year is fantastic," added O'Connell.

"I've spent a lot of years in close calls, and it's been a great eight weeks.

"I think we'd be very proud of what we've done in the last eight weeks, in terms of how we've addressed certain things in our performance, in attack, defence and our resolve to come out and produce a good performance like that after losing last week."

Man of the Match Sean O'Brien scored twice on a memorable afternoon.

"I think we executed very well and did all we could do," said O'Brien.

"It was important we came out and expressed ourselves. Driving into the ground and seeing all the Irish support put a chill up our backs.

"We had to go out and stick to our process, try and win the game first and foremost and let the scoreboard look after itself."