2022 Guinness Six Nations Review: Ireland

Bundee Aki celebrates scoring their first try with Mack Hansen and Caelan Doris 5/2/2022
Ireland came into the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with lofty expectations after winning all three 2021 Autumn Nations Series matches, including a victory over the fabled All Blacks.

Ireland came into the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with lofty expectations after winning all three 2021 Autumn Nations Series matches, including a victory over the fabled All Blacks.

And although Ireland finished second behind Grand Slam winners France, this campaign only reaffirmed that they are moving in the right direction under head coach Andy Farrell.


Ireland demonstrated their title credentials in Round 1 with a comprehensive 29-7 victory over Wales at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.

Bundee Aki strolled in for the Championship’s opening try in the third minute to begin a routine afternoon.

Andrew Conway got Ireland’s second try courtesy of an impressive lunging finish shortly after the interval, before the wing crossed again five minutes later from very close range.

Gary Ringrose secured the four-try bonus point with a scything counter-attack, and only a late Taine Basham score prevented Ireland from keeping Wales pointless.

The men in green’s Round 2 clash with France in Paris was billed as an early title-decider, and such forecasts were proven correct.

Les Bleus prevailed 30-24, setting them on a Grand Slam path, while Ireland would not lose again.

France opened the scoring after 67 seconds with an Antoine Dupont try and quickly opened up a 10-0 lead.

However, Ireland responded immediately through Mack Hansen, who caught team-mate Joey Carbery’s restart and ran in for a spectacular first Test try.

France’s imposing power game built a 22-7 lead, but tries from Josh van der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park cut the deficit to a point on 50 minutes.

Cyril Baille’s score stretched France’s lead again four minutes later, but Ireland stayed in touch for the remainder of an enthralling game and they earned a deserved losing bonus point.

Ireland were always heavy favourites for the visit of Italy in Round 3, but unusual circumstances gave them further assistance against the Azzurri.

After hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi went off injured and his replacement Hame Faiva was sent off for a dangerous tackle, Italy were forced to play with 13 men from 20 minutes onwards.

An experimental Ireland side took advantage, racking up nine tries in a 57-6 win, with debutant Michael Lowry among the scorers with a brace.

A red card would also be the story of Ireland’s Round 4 trip to Twickenham, as England’s Charlie Ewels was sent off for a dangerous tackle on James Ryan after 82 seconds.

Tries from James Lowe and Hugo Keenan gave Ireland a 15-6 lead and they threatened to overwhelm their out-manned opponents.

Yet, buoyed by a raucous home crowd, England rallied and drew level on the hour-mark.

Nevertheless, Ireland held their nerve and the advantage of an extra man ultimately proved vital, as a tiring England fell away.

A Johnny Sexton penalty and tries from Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham secured the visitors a memorable 32-15 win at the home of their oldest foe.

The result kept Ireland in the hunt for the title going into Super Saturday, and they moved to the top of the table with a 26-5 win over Scotland in Dublin.

Scores from Dan Sheehan, Cian Healy, Van der Flier and Conor Murray secured a bonus-point victory and the Triple Crown.

Unfortunately for Ireland, France’s subsequent 25-13 victory over England denied them a first title since 2018.

Still, their second-place finish and the 11-point buffer between themselves and third reflects a strong Championship that hinged on a narrow defeat in Paris.


With his trademark red scrum cap, Van der Flier is not difficult to spot on the pitch, but the openside flanker would have stood out regardless of his headgear colour.

The Leinster man made 58 tackles across the campaign, the most by an Irishman, and was always a turnover threat at opposition breakdowns.

He also showcased his improving attacking abilities, as his purposeful running set up tries against Wales and England, while Van der Flier scored himself against France and Scotland. In total, he carried for 267 metres, the fifth-most by a forward in the Championship.

An ever-present during the campaign, Van der Flier has cemented himself as an essential member of Ireland’s pack.


The win at Twickenham was not pretty, but any victory over the English is one to savour for Ireland.

Despite playing with a man less, England were inspired by the home crowd and relishing their status as heavy underdogs.

Ireland’s scrum was struggling and their attack was not finding its usual fluency. Lesser sides would have lost their nerve.

But the visitors stayed calm and capitalised when England started to flag, pulling away to win with a bonus point.

By withstanding a tough atmosphere and hefty expectations, Farrell’s Ireland passed another test.


Mack Hansen was a surprise debut selection for Ireland’s opener against Wales, but he wasted no time justifying his inclusion.

His powerful running alone would make him a competent international wing, but his willingness to carry the ball in both hands and passing range indicate a special player could have been unearthed.

He assisted Aki with a looping pass barely two minutes into his Ireland career, and scored a remarkable first international try in France the following week.

That he did not feature in England speaks volumes about Ireland’s depth on the wing.


Ireland tour New Zealand this summer and, after such a strong Guinness Six Nations, a first away win against the All Blacks is a serious possibility.

That is followed by another Autumn Nations Series and the 2023 Championship where Ireland will be keen to avenge the loss in Paris.

The 2022 Guinness Six Nations has demonstrated that Ireland possess the requisite ruthlessness, stoicism and depth not to fear anyone.