Rugby

Andy Farrell wary of Scotland’s Triple Crown incentive against Ireland

Farrell’s reigning champions are on the cusp of retaining their crown.

Ireland boss Andy Farrell is aware of the dangers posed by Scotland
Andy Farrell Ireland boss Andy Farrell is aware of the dangers posed by Scotland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Andy Farrell believes the chance to end a 34-year Triple Crown drought makes Scotland a major threat to Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations title bid.

Farrell’s reigning champions are on the cusp of retaining their crown and will do so on Saturday evening by avoiding defeat to the Scots or claiming two losing bonus points.

Gregor Townsend’s visitors, who have the slimmest of chances of snatching the title, will be desperate to bounce back in Dublin after being embarrassed by Italy last weekend.

Ireland were Grand Slam champions in 2023
Ireland were Grand Slam champions in 2023 Ireland were Grand Slam champions in 2023 (Brian Lawless/PA)

While Scotland have not beaten rivals England, Ireland and Wales in a single championship since the 1990 Five Nations, Farrell acknowledges they have a track record of toppling Test rugby’s leading nations.

“They’ve been consistent at beating big teams over the years and playing a brand of rugby that’s been great for everyone to see,” he said.

“When you’re disappointed, all you want is an opportunity where there’s a trophy on the line.

“And I know that as far as the Triple Crown is concerned, they’ve not won that for some time now and that makes them dangerous in our view.

“We’ve got to be ready for them to be as good as they’ve ever been against us.”

Ireland are chasing a 10th consecutive victory over Scotland, having helped eliminate them in the pool stage of the last two Rugby World Cups.

“We’ve been lucky enough over the last few years to get on the right side of victory against Scotland,” said Farrell.

“But they’ve been tough, tough battles and hard-fought games, and you’ve got to be on point to make sure you continue in that manner.”

Ireland have dominated recent meetings with Scotland, including victory at last year’s Rugby World Cup in France
Ireland have dominated recent meetings with Scotland, including victory at last year's Rugby World Cup in France Ireland have dominated recent meetings with Scotland, including victory at last year’s Rugby World Cup in France

Scotland need a bonus-point win, a major swing in points difference and to avoid Ireland claiming a bonus point to overhaul their rivals.

Even then, Townsend’s men would be reliant on the result of France’s clash with England in Lyon, which concludes ‘Super Saturday’.

Although there are scenarios in which Ireland could finish top of the table in defeat, Farrell is determined to clinch championship glory in style after the pursuit of back-to-back Grand Slams was halted by England in round four.

“I love winning titles, there’s no doubt about that, but this is an occasion for us to perform when it really matters,” he said.

“We said it in the Grand Slam game last year (a 29-16 win over England) and we were able to get over the line but the performance wasn’t exactly white hot, so that’s what you’re always chasing.

“Of course winning matters a lot.

“Certainly winning Six Nations titles, however, means an awful lot but having said that, we pride on ourselves on performing well when it matters and I suppose that’s what we’ll judge ourselves on first.”

Lifting the trophy on St Patrick’s weekend for the second successive year would provide a springboard for what promises to be un unforgettable 2024 for Irish rugby.

Farrell’s men face a two-match tour against world champions South Africa in July before hosting New Zealand, Argentina, Fiji and Australia in the autumn.

“This year doesn’t get any better for Irish rugby, it doesn’t get any better,” said Farrell.

“Look at what we’ve got coming up.”