Why Andy Farrell feels missing the Grand Slam is the ‘best thing’ for Ireland

Dylan Coetzee
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell looks on.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell looks on.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is delighted to have defended their Six Nations crown but revealed that missing out on the Grand Slam could be good for his group of players.

Farrell’s men ran out to a 17-13 win over Scotland in Dublin to secure back-to-back titles in what was a gruelling end to the campaign on St Patrick’s weekend.

Lesson learnt

Ireland were impressive all tournament with a loss against England in Round Four being their only blemish in 2024. That result prevented them from winning back-to-back Grand Slams but Farrell feels it taught his players a valuable lesson about Test rugby.

“It was a fantastic campaign for this group and we’re continuing on from where we left off and trying to improve as a group,” he said.

“But we all know things change year on year as far as personnel’s concerned and injuries and whatnot, staff leaving, staff coming in, new staff.

“I reckon the loss last week will be the best thing for us as a group because some of these lads, subconsciously now, not through their own doing, they’ve been used to winning.

“For some of the lads who are not used to losing at all, they get to point where they’re turning up for games actually thinking, ‘we’re doing it’.

“You’re never, ‘doing it’. You’re never doing it in the Six Nations because things changes week to week and that Test match last week was a proper Test match in Twickenham.

“We’ll learn the lessons from that and that will be powerful for us going forward like this one (against Scotland) was.”

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“Unbelievably proud”

Scotland put on a good showing in Dublin which was a great bounce back to defeat against Italy the week before and Farrell praised his opponents whilst underlining his pride for the Ireland group.

“I’ve no doubt that Scotland will be proud of their performance but ultimately we’re delighted,” he said.

“It’s about winning championships for us and that’s unbelievably pleasing because it’s so hard to do.

“Everyone constantly talks about Grand Slams and we get carried away with it so much, back-to-back Grand Slams have never been done before, there’s obviously a good reason for that.

“But for us to be in a position to win back-to-back Six Nations is a nice feeling because it goes down in history for Irish rugby. We’re unbelievably proud of the group.”

O’Mahony decision

Reports suggested before the game that it could be captain Peter O’Mahony’s final Test. In the post-match interview, the flank admitted he was unsure, but for Farrell, he is happy to get behind whatever decision the Munster star makes.

“Whatever is right for him,” Farrell said.

“I’ve been an unbelievably big fan of Pete all his career and we’ve a close enough relationship to be honest with one another.

“We’ve been talking about his career, certainly over when it’s getting to the end, for the last year. We’re realists as far as that’s concerned.

“I’ve no doubt we’ll chew the fat on all that over the coming days.”

READ MORE: Ireland seal back-to-back Six Nations titles after hard-fought victory over Scotland