"Ireland's Biggest Contender" - Peter Stringer Praises England After Strong Six Nations - Ruck

“Ireland’s Biggest Contender” – Peter Stringer Praises England After Strong Six Nations

Legendary Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer was thoroughly impressed by England, as Steve Borthwick’s side ended the 2024 Six Nations strong. England achieved an incredible upset win over Ireland in the penultimate round, and battled to the final moments in a narrow defeat to a colossal French side.

Stringer believes that England have proven themselves to be ‘Ireland’s biggest contender’, after being the only side to hand a defeat to Andy Farrell’s men. The educated feet of Marcus Smith was the deciding factor, as the Harlequin’s 80th minute drop goal secured a late win for England, and nullified Ireland’s hopes of achieving first ever Six Nations back-to-back Grand Slams. Speaking to Betway, Stringer was full of praise for England.

“The game against England at Twickenham, which, for me, was the best game of the tournament was a prime example. England played at an incredibly high intensity for 80 minutes, and Ireland could still have nicked it. It was a disappointing result, but it’s a mark of where Ireland have got to.

“England were relentless for the whole game. They dominated those tackles more often than not, and the knock-on effect at the breakdown just stopped Ireland from playing. What is normally two-second ruck ball become four-second ruck ball, meaning receivers had to stall their runs and couldn’t come onto the ball at pace.

Ben Earl of England celebrates after winning during the Guinness Six Nations Match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on March 9th 2024. – PHOTO: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

“I thought England were incredible in the last two games and, for me, Ben Earl was the standout player in the tournament. They look like they’re really building something under Steve Borthwick and I see them being Ireland’s biggest competitor in the next couple of years with some of the uncertainty around France and their coaching staff.”

Despite Ireland failing to achieve the historic feat of consecutive Grand Slams, the men in green did achieve their second Six Nations title on the bounce. An unexpected set-back on the road to success, Ireland were shown to be mortals by England, as they maintained their spot at the summit of Northern Hemisphere nations. Stringer believes that his side are in a strong position ahead of their Summer tour against the World Champion Springboks.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, Ireland would have taken back-to-back championships – albeit without a second consecutive Grand Slam – before the tournament began. The fact they did so without playing particularly well in some of their games just shows what a good place Irish rugby is currently in.

“There’s a real continuity in the team no matter who plays. Johnny Sexton was Andy Farrell’s coach on the field, he was the eyes and the voice that controlled everything, but Jack Crowley has really stepped up to the plate in that key position. There had a few injuries, which is always disruptive, but Calvin Nash, Robbie Henshaw and Ciaran Frawley just slotted in when required.

“They’re so well-drilled, with a real focus and cohesion that means teams have got to be at their very best for 80 minutes to beat them. That’s a very difficult place to get to, and I can only see it growing from here.”

Looking at the Ireland squad in further detail, and Stringer believes that the back-row is in good hands despite the possible retirement of Peter O’Mahony. Stringer backs Caelan Doris to take over the captaincy should the Munster man step away, as O’Mahony hinted at hanging up the test match boots following Ireland’s fifth round victory against Scotland.

“As Peter O’Mahony said in his press conference after the Scotland match, if that was his last game then it’s not a bad one to go out on.

“You hear what other guys say about him and he’s held in such high regard. He’s not just a talker, he’ll back it up on the field, and Ireland would certainly miss him as a leader and a player. What he’s done for the country has been phenomenal.

“From what I hear, Caelan Doris is probably the next guy in line for that role. He’s a guy who is guaranteed his place if he keeps playing the way he is, either in the No.6 or No.8 jersey depending on what they do with the back row.

“There’s so much that goes into captaincy, the day-to-day running of the team, integration with the coaches, setting a good example on the field and, ultimately, having the respect of your peers. But he’s emerged as a real leader and standout player and looks to be the natural progression.”