Coach Steve Borthwick said: “I found the players adapted incredibly well to the situation. Eventually space and fatigue took their toll, but it was a step forward.”
Borthwick was reluctant to discuss the red card, but many former players quickly chimed in, with former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson saying officials showed a lack of understanding of the game in a “farcic decision”.
“I can’t disagree that the contact is red, but it’s the context of how that contact came about,” Dawson said. “He kicks and slows and turns to get out of the contact area and was sent off. It’s a mockery. He did his best to avoid any kind of contact. It is pure farce.”
Ireland raised expectations ahead of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups with similar Six Nations success, only for those bids to end in disappointment. Ireland remain the only top flight side never to progress beyond the quarter-finals.
“I was just telling Johnny there were bigger fish to fry than this. We’re at the World Cup. We’re a good team who are far from having fulfilled their potential,” said Ireland manager Andy Farrell at a press conference.
“Everyone is going to get better over the summer and we get to spend a lot more time together so we expect our team to be a lot better in the first game of the World Cup than they are now and that’s the reality of it.”
Sexton has previously praised Farrell’s approach to being open about the build-up to the 2023 tournament in France, saying that like the first consecutive win in New Zealand last July, the Grand Slam is another “very special” part of that journey.
“I was just saying in the dressing room this isn’t the end, there’s a lot more to this team,” Sexton said. “Roll on to the World Cup, that’s what we have to focus on now.”
While Farrell was particularly pleased at how Ireland used more than 30 players in an injury-plagued season and hardly missed a shot, he saved his highest praise for Sexton, Ireland’s 37-year-old talisman who plans to retire after the World Cup .
“It’s incredibly fulfilling that I think the best player to ever play for Ireland is able to say goodbye with a Grand Slam in front of his own crowd on St Patrick’s Day,” Farrell said.
https://www.smh.com.au/sport/england-angry-over-farcical-red-card-as-ireland-claim-grand-slam-win-20230319-p5ctbo.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport England angered by ‘farcical’ red card as Ireland clinch Grand Slam win