Ireland look to England’s 2003 World Cup winners, with good reason

Ireland look to England's 2003 World Cup winners, with good reason

After winning the Six Nations Grand Slam on Saturday, the Irish team immediately began thinking about the upcoming World Cup. Captain Johnny Sexton, a crucial player for Ireland, brought up England’s dominant team of two decades ago for inspiration. The two sides are heading into the respective World Cups in similar form as the top-ranked teams.

England’s 2003 Grand Slam winners had an impressive run of 31 wins in 34 games before the World Cup, including multiple victories over New Zealand, South Africa, and holders Australia. In particular, they had back-to-back defeats of all three in the previous November.

Ireland has also had a remarkable streak, extending it to 22 wins in 24 games with their victory over England. They have defeated the best of the northern and southern hemisphere teams and even inflicted a series loss on the All Blacks in New Zealand, the first time by any team in 27 years.

Sexton emphasized the importance of building on their success and keeping their feet on the ground, citing the 2003 Grand Slam as an example of how England could perform on the big occasion in a World Cup year.

Ireland and England share similarities in their dominant pack and a match winner at 10, while Ireland has explosive players such as Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, and Caelan Doris needed all over the field in modern rugby. Both teams are ruthless in winning games and conceding few tries.

Ireland’s upcoming schedule includes two warm-up games against England in August before the World Cup in France. They face tough pool games against holders South Africa and a resurgent Scotland, followed by a quarter-final against either world number two France or number three New Zealand.

Despite the tough draw, coach Andy Farrell believes there are bigger goals to achieve than just winning the Six Nations Grand Slam. He states that Ireland is a good side that has not yet reached its full potential.

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