Rugby

Four wins but defeat to England – How Ireland won the 2024 Guinness Six Nations

Ireland retained their title.

Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations title
Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations title Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations title (Liam McBurney/PA)

Ireland retained the Guinness Six Nations title following victory over Scotland in Dublin.

Here, the PA news agency looks at their route to another championship triumph.

France 17 Ireland 38 – February 2

Ireland enjoyed a memorable evening in Marseille
Ireland enjoyed a memorable evening in Marseille Ireland enjoyed a memorable evening in Marseille (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Ireland emphatically dismissed any notion of a World Cup hangover by romping to a record win away to the pre-tournament favourites. Andy Farrell’s men took advantage of the absence of France talisman Antoine Dupont with a devastating display in Marseille, aided by Les Bleus losing lock Paul Willemse to a first-half red card. Tries from Jamison Gibson-Park and Tadhg Beirne helped subdue the home crowd before second-half scores from Calvin Nash, Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher completed a stunning success at Stade Velodrome. Damian Penaud and Paul Gabrillagues touched down to give France hope of a fightback. But the hosts could not contain Ireland’s physicality, spearheaded by impressive tournament debutant Joe McCarthy.

Ireland 36 Italy 0 – February 11

Jack Crowley’s maiden senior try set Ireland on course for a routine win over Italy in round two
Jack Crowley's maiden senior try set Ireland on course for a routine win over Italy in round two Jack Crowley’s maiden senior try set Ireland on course for a routine win over Italy in round two (Niall Carson/PA)

The Azzurri arrived in Dublin buoyed by an encouraging three-point defeat to England before becoming the first team to be nilled by Ireland in the championship since the English in the 1987 Five Nations. Jack Crowley’s maiden senior try set a much-changed team captained by Caelan Doris on course for a routine success. Hooker Sheehan registered two of five further tries to take his tournament tally to three, while Jack Conan, James Lowe and Nash were also on the scoresheet. Ireland’s display could certainly have been more ruthless but it was more than enough to dispatch outclassed opposition who offered little attacking threat.

Ireland 31 Wales 7 – February 24

Tadhg Beirne’s late score earned Ireland a third successive bonus-point win
Tadhg Beirne's late score earned Ireland a third successive bonus-point win Tadhg Beirne’s late score earned Ireland a third successive bonus-point win (Niall Carson/PA)

Ireland’s ominous march towards the title continued as they equalled England’s championship record of 11 consecutive wins. Tries from Sheehan and Lowe rewarded the home team’s first-half dominance in Dublin. A youthful Wales side avoided embarrassment at the Aviva Stadium thanks to a positive second-half spell which brought a penalty try and a yellow card for Beirne. But a first Test try for stand-in Ireland full-back Ciaran Frawley broke their resolve before Beirne atoned for his earlier error by securing the bonus point at the death on an afternoon when flawless fly-half Crowley, who has filled the void left by the retired Johnny Sexton, kicked 11 points.

England 23 Ireland 22 – March 9

Marcus Smith, right, extinguished Ireland’s hope of back-to-back Grand Slams in dramatic fashion
Marcus Smith, right, extinguished Ireland's hope of back-to-back Grand Slams in dramatic fashion Marcus Smith, right, extinguished Ireland’s hope of back-to-back Grand Slams in dramatic fashion (David Davies/PA)

Ireland’s dream of successive Grand Slams was extinguished by a dramatic late twist at Twickenham. The visitors were second best in south-west London but were seconds away from remaining on course for another clean sweep when Marcus Smith kicked a decisive drop goal in the final act of a thrilling affair to reward England’s standout performance of the Steve Borthwick era. Ireland had been overwhelming favourites for victory and led thanks to two tries from Lowe and four Crowley penalties. However, Ollie Lawrence, George Furbank and Ben Earl crossed for England, who pulled off an upset in memorable fashion to take the title race to the final weekend.

Ireland 17 Scotland 13  – March 16

Ireland celebrated another title win
Ireland celebrated another title win Ireland celebrated another title win (Liam McBurney/PA)

Farrell’s hosts were well below their free-flowing best in Dublin but avoided any major ‘Super Saturday’ drama to retain the championship title. Andrew Porter’s second-half try fatally broke the resistance of the stubborn Scots to ignite the St Patrick’s weekend celebrations and satisfy an expectant capacity crowd at the Aviva Stadium. Hooker Sheehan set Ireland on course for glory – and a 10th successive win over Scotland – with an opportunistic first-half score, while Crowley kicked seven points.